Monday, June 29, 2009

A Void by Georges Perec

This 1969 French novel is written entirely without the use of the letter "e"--an impressive enough feat, but the fact that it was translated into English (i.e. the word "the" does not appear on any of its nearly 300 pages) is downright incredible. The original title, La Disparition, translates to The Disappearance--so right there in the title is the first challenge.

As far as the plot goes: "The year is 1968 and as France is torn apart by social and political anarchy, the noted eccentric and insomniac Anton Vowl goes missing. Ransacking his Paris flat, his best friends scour his diary for clues to his whereabouts. At first glance these pages reveal nothing but Vowl's penchant for word games, especially for "lipograms," compositions in which the use of a particular letter is suppressed. But as the friends work out Vowl's verbal puzzles, and as they investigate various leads discovered among the entries, they too disppear, one by one by one, and under the most mysterious circumstances..."

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