To celebrate the publication of Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure and the expanded edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, ISSUE Project Room, in conjunction with Melville House and New Directions, presents an evening of readings and responses to both texts followed by a conversation with translators Chris Clarke and Daniel Levin Becker.
Inspired after attending a recital of Bach’s Art of the Fugue, Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, perhaps his most famous work in english, tells the story of a man boarding a bus where he is accosted purposefully, he believes, by another passenger. This story is then repeated ninety-nine times each in a different style of writing. To celebrate its 65th anniversary, New Directions has published an expanded edition with newly translated exercises making their English debut, as well as homage exercises by contemporary authors, demonstrating that Queneau’s exercises can proliferate a relatively simple premise to near infinity.
In La Boutique Obscure, the beguiling, never-before-translated dream diary of Georges Perec, the beloved French stylist once again revolutionized literary form. From 1968–1972— the period when he wrote his most well-known works— Perec recorded his dreams. Avoiding the hazy psychoanalysis of most dream journals, he challenged himself to translate his visions and subconscious churnings directly into prose. 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 an intimate portrait of one of the great innovators of modern literature.
Daniel Levin Becker is an editor at the Believer and a member of OuLiPo, one of only two Americans to be admitted. He is the author of a book on OuLiPo, Many Subtle Channels.
Chris Clarke was born in Western Canada, and is currently a Ph.D. student of French at CUNY. These are his first published translations of Raymond Queneau.
Frederic Tuten is the author of five novels, including Tintin in the New World, and a book of inter-related short stories, self-portraits, Self Portraits: Fictions.
Lynne Tillman is the author of five novels, most recently, American Genius, A Comedy, and four short story collections, the latest, Someday This Will Be Funny. She has a column in Frieze magazine, ‘In These Intemperate Times."
Rivka Galchen is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances published in 2008, and is currently at work on a new novel. She writes regularly for publications such as Harper’s and The New Yorker.
ISSUE’s Littoral Series is made possible, in part, through generous support from The Casement Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.