Three books relating to the Oulipo

Inspired Oulipo;

Raymond Roussell's Locus Solus takes it's name from the Latin for lost souls and is basically a series of descriptions of the inventions and experiments of a genius named Canterel, who leads a tour of his estate, called Locus Solus. The original was in French so the translation at times can be a little difficult to gain context with but it's basically a series of intricately detailed, surreal descriptions. From a hot air balloon that reacts exactly to sunlight to make a mosaic out of teeth, to a cat that races sea horses round a giant tank while an opera singer dances and discusses politics with an apparently living head, to the re-enactment of scenes from the lives of the dead. Played by the character's re-animated cadavers. I had to read it very slowly as it's easy to lose track. It follows a very French style of the time of describing a situation (or in this case invention or experiment) then how and why it works, then how that came about, and the story behind it. Rather than a more English style of revealing motives, methods then results.

Vital Oulipo:

Linking Locus Solus to the last book is the rather clever A Void by George Perec. The point of this novel is it's written entirely without the letter 'e' (or 'a' in the original French), making it a Lipogram. It's easy just to read through it scanning for the erstwhile vowel. But this is entirely the wrong method. Perec wrote it as if the letter itself never existed, rather than just excluding it. You almost have to forget about the errant 'e's in order to get into it. The plot basically follows a group of friends searching for their missing companion, Anton Vowel, who himself was onto the idea that something was missing, the thing he dubbed 'A Void'. It's written similarly to Locus Solus, with a similar storytelling-method but manages to cut away the huge amount of detail that saturated Roussell's work. And it actually has a plot, Meyer-lovers..

Inspired by the Oulipo:

The third, also a lipogram, is Ella Minnow Pea. This one was written in English originally so it's easy to fly through. Despite the misleading subtitle of "A Novel Without Letters", the entire novel is in fact written in letters, being the correspondence of a handful of key characters on the island of Nollop, a small island community that worships the man responsible for the pangram "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog". As the letters of the pangram, quasi-immortalised on a statue dedicated to Nevin Nollop begin to fall, the island's leaders ban each missing letter from the English language, with severe penalties if a banned letter is spoken or written. As the book continues, more and more letters fall from the statue until we are left with L, M, N, O and P and the correspondence of the characters within the book is reduced to these letters. Very enjoyable and quite light-hearted but a clever writing exercise and a witty satire.