A Void

Overview

The year is 1968, and as France is torn apart by social and political anarchy, the noted eccentric and insomniac Anton Vowl goes missing. Ransacking his Paris flat, his best friends scour his diary for clues to his whereabouts. At first glance these pages reveal nothing but Vowl's penchant for word games, especially for "lipograms," compositions in which the use of a particular letter is suppressed. But as the friends work out Vowl's verbal puzzles, and as they investigate various leads discovered among the ...
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Overview

The year is 1968, and as France is torn apart by social and political anarchy, the noted eccentric and insomniac Anton Vowl goes missing. Ransacking his Paris flat, his best friends scour his diary for clues to his whereabouts. At first glance these pages reveal nothing but Vowl's penchant for word games, especially for "lipograms," compositions in which the use of a particular letter is suppressed. But as the friends work out Vowl's verbal puzzles, and as they investigate various leads discovered among the entries, they too disappear, one by one by one, and under the most mysterious circumstances . . .

A Void is a metaphysical whodunit, a story chock-full of plots and subplots, of trails in pursuit of trails, all of which afford Perec occasion to display his virtuosity as a verbal magician, acrobat, and sad-eyed clown. It is also an outrageous verbal stunt: a 300-page novel that never once employs the letter E. Adair's translation, too, is astounding; Time called it "a daunting triumph of will pushing its way through imposing roadblocks to a magical country, an absurdist nirvana of humor, pathos, and loss."

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Editorial Reviews

Fiction Digest
A man disappears in Paris and his friends search his apartment for clues to his whereabouts. They also compare notes on what he last said to them. In the process, they come to the conclusion they are all cursed, destined to suffer their friend's fate, disappearing one by one. By the author of Life A User's Manual.
Synopsis copyright Fiction Digest
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
OuLiPians (members of Ouvroir de Littrature Potentielle) once defined themselves as rats who must build the labyrinth from which they propose to escape. Perec's labyrinth in La Disparition was a lipogram omitting the letter ``e.'' Lipograms are an old device, but what makes Perec's effort unique is the length and the fact that, despite its experimental nature, this works as a fun book, a sort of spoof on detective fiction. When the troubled Anton Vowl mysteriously disappears, his friends, led by Amaury Conson, try to find clues. Gathered at the great house of Azincourt, they uncover forbidden passions, an ancient curse, unsuspected relationships and an unending supply of dead bodies. Amaury's search for Anton is a premise: the reader's real conundrum is untangling the logogriph of A Void's multiple hints and references. Some are numerical/alphabetical (there is no chapter five out of 26); some require knowledge of French and other literature (one lipogram without ``a''s or ``e''s is by fellow OuLiPian Raymond Queneau); others are simply amusing (``An amorphous mass of books and authors bombards his brain... La Disparition? Or Adair's translation of it?'') In A Void, Adair has proved himself an adept translator, one fully as comfortable with Perec's sense of absurd fun as with his language. (Feb.)
Paul Grey
"Adair's translation is an astounding Anglicisation of Francophonic mania, the daunting triumph of will pushing its way to imposing road blocks to a magical country, and absurdist navanna, of humor, pathos and loss." -- Time
From Barnes & Noble
When Anton Vowl goes missing, his friends pore over his diary for clues. All they find is a maddening penchant for wordplay, parody, & dazzling, out-of-control fictional constructs...until a ghost from Vowl's past starts to cast a long, malignant shadow.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567922967
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Series: Verba Mundi Series
  • Pages: 284
  • Sales rank: 310,424
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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