Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man - Georges Perec, David Bellos It's Georges Perec - author of my very favourite book of all time - so it has to be good, doesn't it? And indeed it is.

I'd read about this novel - Perec's second, but never published in his lifetime - in David Bellos' monumental biography of Perec, so when it finally turned up in print I had to have it. It's taken me a couple of years to get around to reading it. A curious work in two parts (the second is a retelling of the first), it features Gaspard Winckler, also the name of one of the main characters in "Life a User's Manual", though it's not clear if they're one and the same. It concerns a frustrated forger who murders his paymaster. Reputed to be difficult because it's told in the first,second and third persons, I didn't find it so at all. I'm not at risk of giving any plot spoilers because there isn't much of a plot, to be honest. But that doesn't matter. It's an entertaining meditation on creativity and genius, written with Perec's characteristic wit.

By coincidence, I had just read Thomas Bernhard's "Old Masters", also a contemplation of a single portrait and artistic genius in which nothing much happens, and the two worked well as a piece.