The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise

Despite the title, this is a novel!

Actually, the title is a bit problematic. The actual title of Georges Perec’s novel is L’art et la manière d’aborder son chef de service pour lui demander une augmentation, but perhaps for some reason you don’t read French. So you turn to the U.S. translation, which for some reason is titled The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise on the cover but more literally The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise on the inside title page.

And then, of course, you look inside—and discover that for some reason the entire novel is one long 80-page sentence, with no punctuation and no capitalization.

OK, OK, so it’s really a novella, but let’s not quibble. What you really want to know is whether it’s worth reading the book after this unpromising description. The answer is… an unequivocal maybe. Perhaps it would help you decide if you look at the flowchart inside the front and back covers. Yes, of course the novel comes with a flowchart, as good novels do:

So now you have a picture of the plot, which is… surprise, surprise… non-linear. In fact, it’s what mathematicians call a Directed Cyclic Graph, if memory serves.

And that gives you a clue about the novel: it’s structured as an algorithm, as an (as yet) unimplemented computer program, complete with choice points, iteration, and recursion. With that knowledge, you realize that pages like this typical one aren’t quite as daunting as they look:

Be sure to read the book before asking your boss for a raise.

Categories: Books