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Life A User's Manual - Georges Perec, David Bellos

Mr. Perec's "Life: A User's Manual" has no protagonist. Except for, maybe, the building. The 10 story apartment building at 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier, Paris, France.

 

The building and its stairs, elevator, floors, basements, attic, apartments, bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and every furnishing on and in each is the framework for 99 stories or tales. Oh, and the dwellers themselves.

 

But is the building, and it's architecture and modifications from the late 1800's through 1975 and the detailed contents of each room that are at the center of this novel.

 

Also important are puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles: the life's work of one of the inhabitants.

 

As we walk up and down the stairs and peek into the past and current lives of the inhabitants the stories get told. For the most part these are wonderful stories and while the center is at 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier the stories take us around the world, through two world wars and beyond.

 

This is not a difficult read though the detailed descriptions of paintings and mementos and tables and chairs and bed covers and...does get a bit tedious at times but the stories are not tedious and frequently you do not even know when one has started, nor when the story took place until the end. The narrations just flows along and the reader flows along with too.