Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dans ce val de larmes/Oslo-Seville

A mini-anthology of my favorite items in Harry Mathews' list-like The Orchard: A Remembrance of Georges Perec:

I remember Georges Perec expressing his appreciating of the toweling called Essuitout: "Ça essuie vraiment tout!"

I remember Georges Perec's bad teeth. They deteriorated unchecked during the years when he disliked himself. In 1975 he began going to a dentist (a woman, I think) to have them mended, a laborious procedure that he willingly endured.

I remember Georges Perec telling me that once on a radio broadcast he vaunted the largest Mont Blanc fountain pen at considerable length in the hope that the manufacturer would send him one.

I remember that before 1975 expressions such as
dans ce bas monde and dans ce val de larmes figured frequently (if ironically) in Georges Perec's conversation; after that date, never.

I remember that Georges Perec had no esthetic prejudices.

I remember that Georges Perec wanted to establish the name
un matiouze ("a Mathews") for the strong espresso I always ordered, using M's formula "a double espresso in a demitasse." In restaurants he would order un matiouze, then explain the term, hoping it would catch on--an impossible hope.

I remember that Georges Perec wore rounded shoes, often thick-soled, never tapered, never shinable, never ugly. They manifested his achieved desire to be firmly present in every situation.

I remember that during the summer I had a Eurail card, Georges Perec was disappointed that rather than simply using it to go where I needed, I didn't keep traveling back and forth between Oslo and Seville.

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