Best of the Web

Darran Anderson on Georges Perec

In a deeply personal essay at 3AM Magazine, Darran Anderson describes his resistance to the work of Georges Perec, and the experience of finally opening himself to it:

For many years, I foolishly resisted reading Georges Perec. The reasons say more about I than he: I was somewhat jaded with the book world and tired of anything with the vaguest trace of conceptual pretension or philosophical bullshit. Of course, as is the case with so many uninformed opinions, I was entirely wrong — you learn more about your own ignorance as you get older, if you learn anything at all. For a long time, I had seen Perec as a character in the model of The Fool and thus not one to be taken seriously because I was in thrall to ‘serious’ literature. … I hadn’t realised that writers could deal with profound topics, including trauma and grief, with such a lightness of touch. Perec may be skimming stones across the surface of literature but as he does so he was sending little depth-sounding pulses down into the dark.

I connected with Perec’s writing during a period of time that some people do not come back from, so my gratitude is twofold. … Perec offered a way to focus-in but to do so in an oblique manner that would protect the writer from gazing directly into the abyss or the burning sun and, in the process, surprise the reader with revelations. It was a form of creative liberation through benevolent restriction.