53 Days: A Novel

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David R. Godine Publisher, 1992 - Fiction - 258 pages
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Georges Perec, the celebrated author of Life A User's Manual (Godine, 1987), was working on this "literary thriller" at the time of his death. He had completed only 11 chapters of a planned 28, but left extensive drafts and notes supplying the rest of the mystery, as well as numerous twists and subplots. From these, Harry Mathews and Jacques Roubaud have assembled the elements of the unfinished mystery, along the way providing a fascinating view into the author's mind as he fashioned his literary conundrum.

Absorbing, allusive, and joyously playful, "53 Days" is the ultimate detective story. The narrator, a teacher in a tropical French colony, is trying to track down the famous crime-writer Robert Serval, who has mysteriously disappeared. Serval has left behind the manuscript of his last, unfinished novel, which may contain clues to his fate. From this beginning, Perec lures the reader into a labyrinth of mirror-stories whose solutions can only be glimpsed before they in turn recede around the corner.

In the tradition of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Perec's "53 Days" is a supremely satisfying, engrossing, and truly original mystery. Like his previous work, it is also "a kaleidoscope of ingenious juxtapositions" (Le Monde) from one of the century's most inventive and important writers.

 

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'53 DAYS'

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

—53 Days" ($23.95; Sept. 30, 272 pp.; 1-56792-088-8). Though mystery addicts may balk at its inconclusiveness, readers of every other persuasion will find much to delight them in this deft ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lucienspringer - LibraryThing

Perec's literary output was as varied as anyone's, comprising everything from encyclopedic novels to comic couplets, but he was consistent in one way--the quality of his writing was always excellent ... Read full review

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About the author (1992)

Georges Perec was born in Paris on March 7, 1936 and was educated in Claude-Bernard and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Perec was a parachutist in the French Military before he began publishing his writing in magazines like Partisans. Perec also wrote the book, Life: A Users Manual. Perec is noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". Perec won the Prix Renaudot in 1965, the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974, the Prix Médicis in 1978. Georges Perec died on March 3, 1982.

Harry Mathews was born in New York City on February 14, 1930. He attended Princeton University in 1947, but left in his sophomore year to join the United States Navy. Once his military service was completed, he received a B.A. in music from Harvard University in 1952. He was the only American to become a member of Oulipo, an experimental group of French writers and mathematicians who believe constrained writing techniques are the key to invention. He was an author and editor of the Paris Review literary magazine. His novels included The Conversions, My Life in CIA, and The Solitary Twin. He died on January 25, 2017 at the age of 86.

Jacques Roubaud, born in 1932, has been a professor of mathematics at the University of Paris X Nanterre. He is one of the most accomplished members of the Oulipo, the workshop for experimental literature founded by Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais. He is the author of numerous books of prose, theatre and poetry.

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