Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau

How many times have you reread the same story?

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau is a collection of the same story, written 99 different ways.

Some of the stories are fascinating retellings in various styles. Some are stereotypes (feminine , cockney, Gallacism, exclamations), some are in different perspectives (past, present, blurb, ignorance), some are different styles (noble, comedy, cross-examination, notation, sonnet, ode), and some are rather odd (dog latin, permutations by groups of letters).

Exercises in Style is short and sweet. It sets out what it was trying to do: show how style can change a story, depending on either the narrator or the particular way of writing. Some of them were a perfect example of the impact of style, while others seemed odd to me. In the end, it was a quick read that gave me ideas for developing my own writing style – and it gave me ideas for fun practice in imitating others and changing voice.

My favorite of all of the styles was the last style: Unexpected. It was the most creative, and showed to me that we can take a simple, rather boring story and add something interesting to it in the end.

I’m going to do my own 99 exercise in style. These will be over at my writing webpage (info here). I’ve written four (at that link), and I’ll be doing more. I think this is fun. I’d love if you share any little exercises you do too!

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed Exercises in Style, please leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here.

Comments

  1. says

    Kathy, actually, each story was about a page long (some longer). It was a quick book, but I wanted to space it out because it was a bit repetitive.

    Lezlie, I have a great library! I can request any book in all the Chicago Northern Suburbs libraries without any charge. You can also get it from Amazon — $10 new or about $6 used.

    Penny, I enjoyed it.

    karlo, I hope you enjoy it!

  2. says

    Thanks, Rebecca! I haven’t checked Amazon for a long time. I don’t think it was available when I looked before. I’ll check again! It looks like such a cool book!

    Lezlie

  3. says

    I love the idea of this book. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about writing styles. I’m definitely going to check this one out. Thanks!