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When stuck, return to Georges

I’ve recently been re-reading Georges Perec’s Life: a user’s manual. Not surprising news in and of itself. But it does offer some clues to the turn Coastalblog’s taken of late.

Perec’s masterpiece is a snapshot in time of a Paris apartment block, his stroke of genius being to examine the lives of everyone contained therein, rather than a handful of protagonists. There is a plot of sorts, but due to the novel’s systematic progress (imagine a cross-section as a chessboard, the novel follows a knight’s passage around the board, an alinear approach which disrupts conventional narrative) the book becomes more about the individual stories (which is, in essence its point, explained by the title). It’s a humane work, allocating chapters to everyone in the building, interested in everything.

I’ll not go into detail (do read it, though), as it’s not the book itself that’s the point of this piece, more Perec’s working method, and how it has come to pass that I’m daily writing these small essays. It’s all about process, and the orderly knight’s passage in Life is a precursor to what I’m attempting to do here, though without the same predestination. Simply put each day I’m landing on a different square, and each day I’ll write it, trying to allocate as much care and attention to trivia as I do to serious stuff. Because as with Life where each chapter is a jumping off point for a different story altogether, I have no idea where it’ll take me.


  1. What a great way of putting it - I'll certainly check out the book.


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