The Combinations (Insanely long book acquired, 9.01.2016)

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Louis Armand’s novel (or anti-novel, or whatever) is new from Equus Press.

It’s bigger than a brick.

Lots of footnotes, end notes, different fonts, maps, images, etc. The “text proper” (whatever that means) refuses to begin—epigraphs, notes, an “Overture,” etc.

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Here’s the blurb from Equus:

Fiction. Drama. Art. The “European anti-novel” in all its unrepentant glory is here in THE COMBINATIONS, following in the tradition of Sterne, Rabelais, Cervantes, Joyce, Perec.

In 8 octaves, 64 chapters and 888 pages, Louis Armand’s THE COMBINATIONS is an unprecedented “work of attempted fiction” that combines the beauty & intellectual exertion that is chess with the panorama of futility & chaos that is Prague (a.k.a. “Golem City”), across the 20th-century and before/after. Golem City, the ship of fools boarded by the famed D’s (e.g. John) and K’s (e.g. Edward) of the 16th/17th centuries (who attempted and failed to turn lead into gold), and the infamous H’s (e.g. Adolf, e.g. Reinhard) of the 20th (who attempted and succeeded in turning flesh into soap). Armand’s prose weaves together the City’s thousand-and- one fascinating tales with a deeply personal account of one lost soul set adrift amid the early-90s’ awakening from the nightmare that was the previous half-century of communist Mitteleuropa. THE COMBINATIONS is a text whose 1) erudition dazzles, 2) structure humbles, 3) monotony never bores, 4) humour disarms, 5) relentlessness overwhelms, 6) storytelling captivates, 7) poignancy remains poignant, and 8) style simply never exhausts itself. Your move, Reader.

 

8 thoughts on “The Combinations (Insanely long book acquired, 9.01.2016)

    1. Hey man—
      I read the “Overture” and the prose is very much in that PoMo-rush-of-words style that you can find in DFW and very-much elsewhere. The prose styles seem to be (purposefully) all over the place though. The book’s text/format/whatever *looks* like a Vollmann book more than anything—lots of font shifts, epigraphs, etc.—my initial take is a heavy dose of skepticism, to be honest. I think 23 year old me would flip out over this thing, whereas 37 year old me is wary of what I’ve come to think of as “formal postmodernism.” But I’ll dive in more—it’s interesting.

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      1. Thirty-seven you and twenty-eight me are on the same page: Skeptical. My younger-self would’ve flew over the top for this, too. But, I’m glad to know it still held interest. I’m interested to see where literature might head; seems to have stagnated experimentally. Around the time “The Instructions” was published, I became very skeptical.

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  1. […] Louis Armand’s The Combinations had the misfortune to show up as I was in the middle of a third reading of Gravity’s Rainbow. I read the first two chapters of Armand’s 888 page opus, then some other stuff showed up at the house in the mail, and then The Combinations got pushed to the back of the reading stack. The novel still interests me, but I’m not sure if I have the stamina right now. […]

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