Saturday, 1 April 2017

nocilla dream [agustin fernandez mallo]

Mallo’s book is one of those texts that ends up making you feel dim. In spite of the fact that it may well be created with the intention of making the reader feel smart, or at least more informed. The book is composed of about 130 short sections, few of them more than a couple of pages long. These fragments are bound together by the concept of the desert and the science of physics. The novel centres on a tree in the Nevada desert which is festooned with people’s shoes. This is the centrifugal point, as various characters find themselves returning to the tree and leaving their shoes like a kind of reliquary. The book is populated by drifters, prostitutes, an argentine devotee of Borges and several scientists, allowing Mallo to thread the book with asides from the world of physics, fragments which adorn the book rather than feeling fully integrated into its development. It might have been that my reading of Nocilla Dream suffered from the fact I was trying to digest it on a never-end bus journey to a place called Trienta y Tres (33), but much of the physics went over my head. The notes inform that Mallo is also a scientist. There’s probably something far more clinical and precise in the novel than I was capable of grasping; at times it felt like a highly readable but slightly whimsical collection of fragments that never quite added up to the sum of its parts; another entrant in the novel-as-blog category.

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