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The No World Concerto

A novelist tries to make very modern music out of a work of fiction.

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"No World Concerto" by A.G. Porta, Dalkey Archive Press, 339 pages

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By Scott Esposito for The Barnes & Noble Review

In 1984, two young writers made their Spanish prose debut with a strange dual novel titled "Consejos de un discípulo de Morrison a un fanático de Joyce" ("Advice from a Morrison Disciple to a Joyce Fanatic"). The book was not a commercial smash and in truth is not a great novel, but it is noteworthy for launching the career of the Chilean co-author, Roberto Bolaño.

Whereas Bolaño continued to write and publish after "Consejos," eventually delivering his second novel in 1993, his collaborator, Barcelona-born A. G. Porta, went dark and reportedly abandoned literature, not returning until 1999. (Bolaño claimed that Porta spent the decade and a half wrapped up within a deep study of "Ulysses".) He quickly made up for lost time, publishing a total of five novels within a decade. The first of Porta's books to appear in English, 2006's The No World Concerto, has now arrived via Dalkey Archive Press in a co-translation by Darren Koolman and Rhett McNeil. 

"The No World Concerto" is a strange, ambitious title, a work that attempts to combine the forms imagined by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and serialist composer Arnold Schoenberg: It might best be described as a book that wants to exist as a performance of a score residing somewhere in the confines of Porta's skull. Or, as Porta himself writes, "it has an unsettling rhythm, like something that's always approaching but never quite arrives."

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