W or the Memory of Childhood

Overview

Guaranteed to send shock waves through the literary community, Perec's W tells two parallel stories. The first is autobiographical, describing the author's wartime boyhood. The second tale, denser, more disturbing, more horrifying, is the allegorical story of W, a mythical island off Tierra del Fuego, governed by the thrall of the Olympic "ideal," where losers are tortured and winners held in temporary idolatry.

As the reader soon discovers, W is a place where "it is more ...

See more details below
Paperback
$15.79
BN.com price
(Save 6%)$16.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $5.60   
  • New (6) from $17.92   
  • Used (9) from $5.60   
Sending request ...

Overview

Guaranteed to send shock waves through the literary community, Perec's W tells two parallel stories. The first is autobiographical, describing the author's wartime boyhood. The second tale, denser, more disturbing, more horrifying, is the allegorical story of W, a mythical island off Tierra del Fuego, governed by the thrall of the Olympic "ideal," where losers are tortured and winners held in temporary idolatry.

As the reader soon discovers, W is a place where "it is more important to be lucky than to be deserving," and "you have to fight to live ... [with] no recourse, no mercy, no salvation, not even any hope that time will sort things out."

Here, sport is glorified and victors honored, but athletes are vilified, losers executed, stealing encouraged, rape common, and violence a fact of life.

Perec's interpretive vision of the Holocaust forces us to ask the question central to our time: How did this happen before our eyes? How did we look at those "shells of skin and bone, ashen faced, with their backs permanently bent, their eyes full of panic and their suppurating sores?

How did all of this happen, not on W, but before millions of spectators, some horrified, some cheering, some in-different, but all present at the games watching the events of that grisly arena?

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Exploring a single letter was one among many devices used by Perec ( Life: A User's Manual ), known for his verbal feats. ``W'' (pronounced in French double-ve ) suggests the double sorrow (the poetic Weh in German) arising from the parallel and interlaced narratives of this quasi-autobiographical novel. Born in Paris of Jewish emigre parents who were killed when he was a child, Perec actually had ``no childhood memories,'' and so invented a personal past based on photographs and the testimony of relatives. The novel alternates a straightforward account of childhood with an imagined journey to a fiendish utopia, i.e., Nazi Germany, whose criminal ideal of Olympic Sport controls every act. Boys train as athletes, while girls become handmaids and, in the big playoff, the champions' rape victims. The regime's mirror-image is found in the Nazi's organized death camps. Common threads link the novel's two narratives. Perec's schooldays evoke the athletes' horrifying education. ``W'' is the name of the Olympic police state; ``W'' recurs in the herringbone pattern of Perec's skis, and when repeated and re-aligned forms a Star of David. The writer's search for identity within a historic nightmare provides a moving and important memoir. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The W here is ``double ve (vie),'' a pun on ``double life,'' and Perec (1936-82) offers two narratives in this 1975 novel: Recollections of an early childhood (like his own) as a Jew during the German occupation of France alternate with the description of a Fascist, sports-crazed regime on an island in Tierra del Fuego. The second narrative is presumably the creation of the first narrator, a pacifist carrying a Swiss passport originally issued to an autistic adolescent possibly abandoned in Tierra del Fuego. The ``real'' story is conscientiously tentative in its reconstruction; the ``imaginary'' story is elaborately and unequivocally detailed. The unmistakably British translation in no way detracts from its impact. Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY at Binghamton
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567921588
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2010
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 713,642
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)