A Void (Part 1)

Things look normal, but looks can play tricks on you. Things at first look normal, till, abruptly, abnormality, horrifying in its inhumanity, swallows you up and spits you out. (p. 23)

In his novel, A Void, George Perec purposefully leaves out the most frequently used letter of the alphabet in order to tell his story. The e is clearly missing, one knows this as one begins reading, but soon its absence becomes barely discernable at all. Such is the quality of his writing.

(I wonder how many of those in the read-along will try to write their posts without an e; if successful, they’d be far more clever than I can attempt on this dreary October eve. Maybe I’ll see how many words with an e I can purposefully employ. 😉

At any rate, to signify the letter e, Perec has created Anton Vowl who by page 40 has gone missing. Amaury Conson, his bosom buddy, begins a search for his missing friend. He follows clues which Anton had left in a postcard, that take him to such obscure places as the zoo, while mentioning authors as diverse as Mishima, Dick Francis, and Herman Melville.

As I finished Part 1, and turned the page to find Part III (whatever has happened to Part II?!*) I found that not only is Anton Vowl missing, but so is the body of solicitor Hassan Ibn Abbou. However his absence fits with Anton Vowl remains to be seen.

There is a void, a possible abduction, or body-snatching everywhere one turns.

*Richard explained in his comment left on my initial thoughts post, that Part II is missing as e is the second in the list of vowels: a e i o u. I can see I need to think even more carefully as I read the parts which Perec has included, as well as the parts he has omitted. He is as tricky as they come.

8 thoughts on “A Void (Part 1)”

  1. Ah. I was thinking maybe it was omitted because deux has an e while un and trois do not. But that idea is voided by the presence of the quatre section. I am definitely intrigued by this book. Thanks for the teaser.


  2. Just for fun, I asked my students to write a page without using 'e' they year this book came out in paperback. I told them they could write an essay or a story but they could not write a poem. Poem has an 'e' in it. They did come up with some creative stuff.


  3. Bellezza, I'm glad you're enjoing the book so far. Will write a quick intro post of my own soon (i.e. after I fight off a bug today) where I will link to your two posts and say something about the English translation of the book. Love C.B. James' school project above–what fun!


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