NOCILLA DREAM by Agustin Fernandez Mallo is a terrific short book. (I’m reading a lot of translated editions this year, it seems.) It’s a fantasia of a remote and dusty part of America, with its own new myths and legends, recasting a place and space with its own trash magic. In short chapters, all intimately connected by characters and location and theme rather than plot, Mallo lays out a broken map of the modern condition.
In one sense, it’s like a younger Pynchon smashed down one of his thousand-page monsters into 200 pages, distilling every meandering anecdote and long chain of thought into a series of short meditations and pure little fables of the heat-shimmered road. In another, the form feels very 21st Century, very condensed, pins on a map of the world that explode out into deep and detailed pen-portraits of their coordinates. (Which summons Craig Mod’s old project hi.co from my memory.)
For me, it played right in to every thought I’ve had this year about “fragmentary” writing, from zuihitsu to Walter Benjamin’s ONE-WAY STREET and everything in between. It’s Modernism, to be sure, but it’s also completely contemporary. It feels like a way forward. Another superb choice by Fitzcarraldo Editions. And, even better, I understand it’s the first of a trilogy.