“The Art of Asking Your Boss For a Raise” by Georges Perec

Georges Perec was an experimental writer and is now best known for his novel A Void, which does not use the letter “e.”  (Actually, to be precise, Perec wrote La Disparition; “A Void” is the English translation by Gilbert Adair.)  The Art of Asking Your Boss For a Raise actually has a simpler premise: you, the reader, travel along with the main character as he navigates the flow-chart that adorns the inside cover of the book, trying desperately to catch his boss on a good day in order to ask for a raise.  The book was written as an experiment in simulating the thoughts of a computer as it runs through a program.

In the introduction, the translator David Bellos remarks that the book is “almost unreadable.”  In some ways this is definitely true: there is no punctuation, so the whole book reads as if it is one long sentence, and barely any plot.  However, there is an appealing rhythmic feel to the text, rendering it almost poetic in its repetition.  It has definitely left me interested in trying out some of his other work!

Update 9/25/15: I finally read A Void.

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