14 May 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, a Symphony of Accolades for Lucinda and Pages Bookstore.

the other day, friday to be exact, (before my fortuitous hot chocolate and encounter with Willow at Moonbean), i decided that i would attempt to cure my desperate melancholy with a trip to Pages.
now there are FEW places on earth that fill me with COMPLETE GLEE AND EXTRAVAGANCE as does Pages (bookstore, to the uninitiated, located at Queen and John, SW side).
sigh. the worst thing about my expenditures there is there is no way to Not justify the purchase. no amount of "i'm a rich capitalist westerner in need of Nothing" will keep me from proffering my pitiable pay cheque to the Good people of Pages for some ripe extravagant book purchase on a melancholy Friday.

anyhow. I was in search of an Oulipo Compendium, a Reader about this strange movement in literature that Rebecca only lately made me privy to. google revealed that "OULIPO is the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature, a group of writers and mathematicians". Members include Raymond Queneau, François Le Lionnais, Claude Berge, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino. though the movement is not that recent, "More thorough-going researches are currently being carried out in an obscure and semi-derelict laboratory, the Mappery of Abductive Poetics, in South London."

any movement that tries to integrate writing with science (or maths, in this case), to create new structures or patterns for writers is already enticing to me. then i find out that one Georges Perec constructed an entire novel, entitled la Disparition without using a single letter E. followed by the discovery that Italo Calvino was/is a member of this movement Capped it. Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller... has one of my FAVOURITE prologues of All Time:

" You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice-they won't hear you otherwise-"I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone..."
and so on.

but where was i.
alas, Pages did not have this Oulipo Compendium in stock, but Lucinda, a salesperson there, NOT ONLY looked up other titles for me and checked their availability, she took a special order for both the compendium and another book, an Oulipo Primer. I confessed to being a little wary of special ordering the Primer; it wasn't the original book that had been recommended to me and i was nervous that i wouldn't want it and everyone's time and money would be wasted. but she said she would investigate both books. THEN Lucinda Called me later that day to let me know that although the Compendium was out of print, she had found some more information about the Primer, (the listing when i was there had been scant) listed the authors and their relevance to the movement, and said that it seemed a fantastic volume and ordering it would be no problem, etc etc. though i could choose to take it if i wish.

This is a Genuine heartfelt and Public thank you to Lucinda, to Pages Bookstore, and to bibliophiles everywhere who understand people's special book-order needs, and what a trying time the special order process can be.


PAGES BOOKSTORE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. PLEASE MAKE ALL EFFORTS TO BUY BOOKS THERE.("This Ain't the Rosedale Library" and "Women's College Bookstore" AS WELL!). you will NEVER get this kind of attention at Chapters. NEVER.


DerikB said...

The Primer (Motte ed.) is a collection of early writings from various members of the group. If you are interested in the lit/math connection it will be worth it for you.

UK's Atlas Press is currently working on a new edition of the Compendium.

(For what it's worth, my blog (madinkbeard.com) is mostly dedicated to Oulipo related writing (constrained literature).)

steflenk said...

a tardy thank you, but a thank you nonetheless, my good sire. it's the science/art connections that pull me in...