February 8, 2013

Georges Perec’s dreams: “Fifty Kilos of Quality Meat”


Over at the New York Review of Books blog, you’ll find an excerpt from our forthcoming La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams by Georges Perec, in a translation by Daniel Levin Becker.

As the excerpt begins:

Everyone has dreams. Some remember theirs, far fewer recount them, and very few write them down. Why write them down, anyway, knowing you will only sell them out (and no doubt sell yourself out in the process)? I thought I was recording the dreams I was having; I have realized that it was not long before I began having dreams only in order to write them.

And here’s a sample:

The Dentist

At the end of a maze of covered walkways, a bit like in a souk, I arrive at a dentist’s office.

The dentist is out but her son, a young boy, is there. He asks me to come back later, then changes his mind and tells me his mother will be back any moment.

I leave. I run into a tiny woman, pretty and cheerful. It’s the dentist. She leads me to the waiting room. I tell her I don’t have time. She opens my mouth very wide and bursts into tears as she tells me that all my teeth are rotten but that it’s not worth treating them.

My mouth, open wide, is immense. I have an almost palpable sensation of total rot.

My mouth is so large, and the dentist so small, that I suspect she is going to put her whole head in my mouth.

Later, I run through the shopping mall. I buy a three-burner gas stove that costs 26,000 francs and a 103-liter refrigerator.

—No. 5, December 1968

More at the NYRB Blog.



Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.