One Hundred Ouroboric Novels
McPherson, 9780929701721, 214pp.
Publication Date: December 6, 2004
Note: Three stories appeared in the March 2005 issue of Harpers magazine, and twelve stories in the spring 2005 "Zukofsky" issue of Chicago Review.
Italo Calvino once remarked that in Giorgio Manganelli, "Italian literature has a writer who resembles no one else, unmistakable in each of his phrases, an inventor who is irresistible and inexhaustible in his games with language and ideas." Nowhere is this more true than in this Decameron of fictions, each composed on a single folio sheet of typing paper. Yet, what are they? Miniature psychodramas, prose poems, tall tales, sudden illuminations, malevolent sophistries, fabliaux, paranoiac excursions, existential oxymorons, or wondrous, baleful absurdities? Always provocative, insolent, sinister, and quite often funny, these 100 comic novels are populated by decidedly ordinary lovers, martyrs, killers, thieves, maniacs, emperors, bandits, sleepers, architects, hunters, prisoners, writers, hallucinations, ghosts, spheres, dragons, Doppelgngers, knights, fairies, angels, animal incarnations, and Dreamstuff. Each "novel" construes itself into a kind of Mbius strip, in which, as one critic has noted, "time turns in a circle and bites its tail" like the Ouroborous. In any event, Centuria provides 100 uncategorizable reasons to experience and celebrate an immeasurably wonderful writer. Brilliantly translated from the Italian by Henry Martin.