Though the central metaphor of George Perec’s encyclopedic novel, Life: A User’s Manual is the puzzle, a single Parisian apartment house on the imaginary Rue Simon-Crubellier forms the frame for this playful, profound, and masterful work of fiction. Check-In Architecture is interested in how spaces and buildings affect people’s lives, and no book to our mind captures better how people’s lives unfold in buildings than in this novel. As Perec himself wrote,
"I imagine a Parisian apartment building whose façade has been removed [...] so that all the rooms in the front, from the ground floor up to the attics, are instantly and simultaneously visible."
The book travels through all of the different apartments and all the different lives of its inhabitants, sometimes the history of the apartment and its myriad tenants and the histories of each of their lives, troubles, fevered imaginings, and documents, become interwoven into the text. As everything crystallizes and culminates in a single moment and written under an array of specific constraints, the book unwinds and unfolds its seemingly endless interlocking puzzles taking us, the reader, on a trip through the potent imaginative qualities of everyday spaces and everyday things.
The book is available widely in English and its native French, as well as in Italian.
Posted by Check In Architecture at Wednesday, May 07, 2008