Fans of Georges Perec -- the playfully experimental French novelist -- will have to wait a few months to purchase David Bellos's translation of 53 Days. Originally scheduled for September, this posthumous novel -- reviewed on Sept. 19 in this space -- was suddenly pulled from its publisher's fall schedule and will now be brought out by David R. Godine in Jan., 2000. Sigh. Those intrigued by the brief account of Perec's work should spend this time wisely, ideally by immersing themselves in his novels, essays and stories or by enjoying the fiction of his friends and colleagues in the OuLiPo, the Workshop for Potential Literature.

Here's a brief reading list:

* Georges Perec, Life a User's Manual (arguably the most innovative French novel of the past 25 years); Species of Spaces (a collection of essays)

* David Bellos, Georges Perec: A Life (a prize-winning literary biography, absolutely engrossing)

* Jacques Roubaud, Hortense Is Abducted (delightful romantic adventures, composed according to a mathematical substrate; with two sequels)

* Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler and The Castle of Crossed Destinies (two masterworks -- about storytelling -- by the much-admired Italian man of letters)

* Harry Mathews, The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium (mentioned in 53; one of the clever novels by Perec's close friend, a brilliant, underappreciated writer and the only American member of OuLiPo)