Asaf Bartov (ijon) wrote,
Asaf Bartov

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An Evening at Theo Café; Everything you never knew about Georges Perec

Two nights ago, I spent an interesting evening at a Tel-Aviv café called "Café Theo", or "Theo Café", which is a cute pun in Hebrew meaning "Tea or Coffee". It is run by a poet named Ilan Sheinfeld (or Schönfeld, his book bylines can't decide), and features very nice bookshelves lining the walls. That is, the bookshelves were just bookshelves, but the books on them were very nice.

The occasion was a poetry reading, with Sheinfeld reading some of his own poems, and a young composer and pianist of my acquaintance performed two of Sheinfeld's poems that he had composed. I enjoyed it very much; Sheinfeld's poetry is competent, makes interesting use of language (I'd bring examples, but it was all in Hebrew), and mostly managed to engage me. Sheinfeld is overtly homosexual, and a lot of his personal poetry deals with gay life. He also read some of his political poetry, which I found very appealing.

In fact, it was one of the political poems he read that drove me to buy one of his books (conveniently, they were available). While at it, and in strict violation of my decision not to buy any more books for a while now, following the extravaganza in my recent trip to the US, I bought some other Hebrew poetry books. The excuse I make for myself is that those particular books are not available in standard bookshops in Israel, and so should be grabbed whenever the opportunity presents itself. I only bought four books, though, so mom probably wouldn't notice. Among them was the Orland book I mentioned in a past entry.

E., an erudite friend who also showed up at Theo, revealed two fascinating facts about Georges Perec:

a. Georges Perec is related to the Hebrew and Yiddish writer Y.L. Perets. Given his surname, I should have guessed Perec is akin to the Jewish surname "Perets", and thus that he was of Jewish descent. In that light, it wouldn't have surprised me to hear he is actually related to Perets.

update, October 2003: This turns out to be a false but popular story. Perec is related to some Jewish Perets family, but not to the writer Y.L. Perets.

b. At twelve, Perec was sent to Palestine, stayed in a kibbutz, and spent time in some Jewish summer camp there. Now, only Israelis can probably appreciate the mental image, but just imagine Perec dancing a "hora", holding hands and wearing a "Tembel" cap, half-heartedly mumbling some Hebrew song taught the kids at camp... [cracks up laughing]

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