The Nocilla Trilogy: Nocilla Dream, Nocilla Experience, Nocilla Lab

Farrar. Feb. 2019. 530p. tr. from Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. ISBN 9780374222789. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780374718244. F
OrangeReviewStarDefying adequate genre classification, this "docu-fiction" is a hybrid of the real (including verbatim passages from a wide range of works) and the imaginary infused with quotidian images to create an unusual literary pastiche. The first two installments, "Dream" and "Experience," follow the same format: strands of narration, averaging two pages, revolve around a shoe-strewn poplar tree in the first and a series of structures and conceptual art in the second, resembling hypertext typical of digital technology. The open, fragmentary format suggests reader participation such that one could read it randomly rather than sequentially and realize a different experience each time. The third segment, "Lab," takes a different direction, opening with a 60-page single-sentence interior monolog of almost symphonic repetition and closing with a comic strip. With a title referencing two popular culture icons, the Spanish equivalent of Nutella plus a Spanish punk rock song, this landmark work gave its name to Spain's Nocilla generation, writers who broke free of tradition restraints. This U.S. publication marks the first appearance of all three volumes in English.
VERDICT Readers of Borges, Cortázar, or Vila-Matas, all acknowledged in the text, will embrace the unconventional narration; for others it may be an original yet challenging reading experience.
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