La Boutique Obscure
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
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The beguiling, never-before-translated dream diary of Georges Perec
In La Boutique Obscure Perec once again revolutionized literary form, creating the world’s first “nocturnal autobiography.” From 1968 until 1972—the period when he wrote his most well-known works—the beloved French stylist recorded his dreams. But as you might expect, his approach was far from orthodox.
Avoiding the hazy psychoanalysis of most dream journals, he challenged himself to translate his visions and subconscious churnings directly into prose. In laying down the nonsensical leaps of the imagination, he finds new ways to express the texture and ambiguity of dreams—those qualities that prove so elusive.
Beyond capturing a universal experience for the first time and being a fine document of literary invention, La Boutique Obscure contains the seeds of some of Perec’s most famous books. It is also an intimate portrait of one of the great innovators of modern literature.
GEORGES PEREC (1936-1982) was a French novelist, filmmaker, documentary maker and essayist. In death he remains a member of Oulipo, the workshop of potential literature. He is most famous for the novels Life: A User’s Manual and A Void.
Translator DANIEL LEVIN BECKER (b. 1984) is the youngest member of Oulipo, and only the second American to ever be so honored. He is a writer, translator and music critic, and reviews editor of The Believer. He is the author Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature (Harvard 2012).
“If you let it, the bundled text of dreams provides insight into [Perec's] most influential work … Daniel Levin Becker rises and meets the challenge of honoring Perec’s intuition.”
—Library Journal (editor’s pick)
“La Boutique Obscure … is a work of considerable breadth and variety, and much of it is good fun, too. Any new bit of Pereciana is welcome, and fans will certainly appreciate and enjoy La Boutique Obscure.” —The Complete Review
”The book captivates…occasionally Perec’s dreaming mind alights on an image that condenses the pathos of an entire life.” —The Rumpus