With the exception of a long piece by William Firebrace on the work of W.G. Sebald, this forms the centre around which most of the other contributions fit: they are about Perec and his work, inspired by him, or about Paris.
Photographer Pierre Getzler accompanied Perec while he was writing parts of Lieux; an interview with him is accompanied by some of the resulting photographs. In "The Bartlebooth Follies" Paul Aster offers an introduction to Perec's best-known work Life a User's Manual (1978), which he began after abandoning Lieux. Tom Emerson's "From Lieux to Life" looks at themes running through Species of Spaces, Lieux, and Life A User's Manual. And Paul Virilio contributes two pieces on Perec.
Terry Smith's "In the morning, will I remember this?" is a diary of travels around North America, vaguely in the style of Lieux. Other contributions come from members of the Oulipo, the literary movement of which Perec was a leading member. There are short stories by Marcel Bénabou and Harry Mathews, several "metro" poems by Jacques Jouet (where each line is composed while the train is moving in between stations and written down when it stops), and a selection of poems about Paris and Perec by Jacques Roubaud.
Carlos Villanueva Brandt and Richard Wentworth contribute urban photo-montages. Jean Baptiste Morot writes about painting scenes of 18th century Paris for the film The Lady and the Duke. And Julian Green meditates on the architectural future of Paris.
All of this is packaged in an attractive volume. AA files is clearly a journal that aspires to be art, not just to discuss it, but it doesn't try too hard to be trendy. I found the overall mix of literary criticism, urbanism, fiction, poetry, and photography a nice balance between the familiar and the novel. It could be read by those completely unfamiliar with Perec, but for proper appreciation I would recommend reading at least Life A User's Manual first.
- External links:
- buy from Amazon.co.uk
- review and links at the Complete Review
- Related reviews:
- Georges Perec - A Void
- David Bellos - Georges Perec: A Life in Words
- more French literature
- more Oulipo
- books about architecture + urbanism
- more literary criticism