From the page: Perec was a frighteningly clever writer. He was a lover of word games and puzzles, and a master of the Chinese board game Go. He wrote crossword puzzles for Paris magazines. He had already written a 5,000 word palindrome - a text that reads the same forwards and back, like the well known Ã¢â,¬ËoeA man, a plan, a canal - Panama'. But his friends thought that this task would be beyond him. Indeed, they staked money on it.
Unlocking the imagination
He took up the challenge. He was unable to use more than 70 per cent of the words in the French language. The most common articles and pronouns, most of the French verb endings, and nearly every feminine noun were off-limits. Imagine a French writer not being able to use Ã¢â,¬Ëoeune', Ã¢â,¬Ëoele', Ã¢â,¬Ëoeje', Ã¢â,¬Ëoeelle', Ã¢â,¬Ëoeest', or Ã¢â,¬Ëoeet'. Surely enough to kill any writer's ability to create.
But Perec was not just any writer. He discovered that, on the contrary, this Ã¢â,¬Ëoeimpossible' rule unlocked his imagination. He later claimed that he wrote his novel faster than any of his other books. He was forced to think. He had to fight for every sentence. He had no choice but to be original.
The result was La Disparition, a surreal detective story about the mysterious disappearance of a character named A. Vowl. (Get it?) The only Es were the four in his name on the cover. He placed dozens of clues in the book about the fantastically difficult rule he was working under. (For example, the chapters are numbered one to 26, but there is no chapter five, E being the fifth letter of the alphabet.) Despite the clues, many of the original reviewers failed to spot what was staring them in their faces - the missing letter. Embarassing for the critics; hilarious for the writer and his friends.