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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Nocilla Experience

Agustín Fernández Mallo

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To purchase Nocilla Experience

Title: Nocilla Experience
Author: Agustín Fernández Mallo
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 198 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: in The Nocilla Trilogy - US
Nocilla Experience - US (Spanish)
Nocilla Experience - UK
Nocilla Experience - Canada
Nocilla Experience - España
  • Spanish title: Nocilla Experience
  • Translated by Thomas Bunstead
  • The second volume in Fernández Mallo's 'Nocilla trilogy'

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Our Assessment:

B : interestingly experimental

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El Cultural . 13/3/2008 Ricardo Senabre
Harper's* . 3/2019 Christopher Beha
The Nation* . 14/3/2019 Jessica Loudis
World Lit. Today* . Summer/2019 J.David Osborne

[* review of entire trilogy]

  From the Reviews:
  • "Lo que conviene decir al posible lector es que no busque en estas páginas una novela al uso. (...) La fragmentación, las informaciones incompletas, la acumulación de datos procedentes de ámbitos dispares, cierta frialdad deliberada, casi como de informe científico, en la exposición de los hechos así como el gusto por lo insólito y pintoresco, son marcas bien conocidas que aquí brotan en cada página. Lo que el autor se ha propuesto lo ha resuelto rigurosamente." - Ricardo Senabre, El Cultural

  • "One chapter consists entirely of an excerpt from David Brooks's review of a Malcolm Gladwell book, which is either the funniest or the stupidest literary gesture ever committed to paper. (...) These books read as though they were written quickly. The prose is not bad, exactly (...) but it is strikingly flat." - Harper's, Christopher Beha

  • "Nocilla Experience was unlikely to convert anyone who felt strongly about its predecessor, but it is a richer and more satisfying encounter with the ideas that Mallo was testing out in Nocilla Dream. (...) Like its predecessor, Nocilla Experience is a global novel." - Jessica Loudis, The Nation

  • "As much as it's about anything, The Nocilla Trilogy is about writing and books themselves, which is probably why I liked it so much. It's bold and very much itself." - J.David Osborne, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Nocilla Experience is the middle volume in Fernández Mallo's 'Nocilla trilogy' -- which, as he notes in the Credits, is: "a project which seeks to transfer certain aspects of my theory of 'post-poetry' to fiction". It resembles the preceding volume, Nocilla Dream in structure and approach, but is not simply a continuation (i.e. you can pick this one up first). Here there are 112 chapters, most only a page or so in length. A variety of characters and references are returned to repeatedly, but few of what can be considered storylines unfold in straightforward sequence, with the narrative cutting and jumping from one to the next.
       There are outright sampled texts -- a page-long excerpt from David Brooks' review of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink from The New York Times Book Review, for example. There are related quotes: single question-and-answers from Pablo Gil interviews with a variety of popular music-figures, for example. There are variations on a short excerpt, the opening to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now.
       Appropriately, Fernández Mallo refers to and plays with Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch -- a novel that famously allows for different readings, if the chapters are rearranged (i.e. their numerical order isn't absolute), much as Nocilla Experience might. Art works by other artists are appropriated, such as Isidoro Valcárcel Medina's 'Suicide Tower'. And others figure prominently as influences on some of the characters, for example Henry Darger, "author of the strangest book in the history of literature and loner par excellence".
       There are quite a number of 'stories' here too, characters whose life and work features in numerous chapters, with a variety of overlaps, thematic and actual. There's Josecho, a practitioner of: "'transpoetic fiction', which consisted of creating hybrid artefacts somewhere between science and what is traditionally known as 'literature'"; among his ideas is a novel ("an artefact, really") composed of the the first few paragraphs of already published novels. Another loner is Marc, who has his own theories, and whose: "only stable connection with the world is the internet". And there's John Smith, who fathers a child in Iraq and sticks around.
       Nocilla Experience obviously isn't so much about plot, though much does happen and is eventfully described; many of the chapters or sequences are entertaining in their own, fairly traditional right. But its the circular litany, the repetitions -- whether repeated mentions of how much a bloated corpse adds in mass or variations on the opening of Apocalypse Now -- and the invoked art (some likely familiar, some possibly not), and characters, described at their most basic (or essential) that creates a more substantial work. Nocilla Experience isn't meant to be a traditional novel, with Fernández Mallo exploring other ways of telling -- the focus not so much on the detail (even as that is generally carefully crafted) but the bigger impression, the totality of the work.
       It is certainly an interesting work. And it is certainly readable too -- not just willful experimentation on display.
       A variation on his themes and similar to the previous installment, it will be interesting to see how the third, apparently somewhat different, volume ties the trilogy together.

- M.A.Orthofer, 8 February 2017

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Nocilla Experience: Reviews (* review of entire trilogy): Other books by Agustín Fernández Mallo under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Agustín Fernández Mallo was born in 1967.

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© 2017-2021 the complete review

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