A WORLD OF HUMOR AND LOSS

GEORGES PEREC WROTE IT; GILBERT ADAIR TRANSLATED IT; AND NOW HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHES A 285-PAGE STORY WITH AN ODD OMISSION

AVOID, ORIGINALLY LA DISPARITION (1969), is a lipogram, an old trick dating as far back as 500 B.C. in which authors voluntarily submit to awful handicaps, arbitrarily abjuring crucial signs or symbols and making writing, always a hard task, a virtual impossibility. In A Void, this onus is particularly harsh. All consonants, from stalwart b to languishing z, can occur in normal fashion; but only a, i, o and u may fill out what is ordinarily a quorum of 26. "Huh?" you may gasp, "no ...?" Shhhh! Do not think or, God forbid, say it, at any cost. To do so...

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