Raymond Queneau: Exercises in Style

No, this isn’t the Kama Sutra: But it can be, if you enjoy the art of making love with words and trying out different positions with them. 

A more conservative comparison: If classical music has Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, literature has Queneau’s Exercises in Style.

The truth: I had no idea who Queneau was. I’ve come across NYRBs with his name on them, but I only grabbed this book because I’ve enjoyed the works of both Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino. (It must mean something when two outstanding Italians endorse the work of a Frenchman!) The former wrote the foreword and this edition features an essay by the latter, with a prescient first line directed to me, “Who is Raymond Queneau?”

Well, now I know Raymond Queneau: The first man who has managed to make me chuckle all the way while reading an entire book! This was just delightful! It is a retelling of the same short story in different styles that simply renders some books on writing and reading irrelevant — while making the reader laugh.

To those who love to read and write a bit, or write a lot: If this isn’t on your shelf yet, there’s an empty spot where Exercises in Style is supposed be. 😘