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Life, a User's Manualby Georges Perec
Georges Perec was one of the more famous members of the Oulipo, a group of writers whose acronym translates to "workshop for a potential literature." The group imposes mathematical and/or absurd constraints on the style and form of their writing. Perec is most famous for La Disparition, or, in translation, A Void, a novel most famous for its lack of the letter e (which is an even greater feat in the original French than it is in English).
Perec used some pretty severe constraints to produce Life: A User's Manual (La Vie Mode D'emploi), though it's not this formalist dazzle that makes the book great. Yes, all of the details of the book are random, created through mathematical procedure. But, what amazes is that the novel is thematically rich, even profound. It utterly transcends what could easily have been an unsubstantial and macho flexing of literary muscle.
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