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Nocilla Lab El desastre de Chiang Mai durante un viaje a Tailandia fue la azarosa oportunidad para ue Agustín Fernández Mallo volcara en un relato tripartito sus experiencias con esa cosa tan extraña llamada Mundo Nocilla Lab es el cierre lógico y multidisciplinar del Proyecto Nocilla Una road movie autorreferencial y visionaria inuietante donde un hombre y una mujer buscan poner en marcha el Proyecto una excusa para hurgar en sus sueños y en su propia relación Un certero relato del arte de crear de escribir de imaginar El trayecto acaba en una antigua prisión en la ue un hombre se enfrenta a otro con el suspense y la tensión de un thriller un hombre contra sí mismo en un final original y sorprendente Como un demiurgo disfrazado de DJ ficcional Agustín Fernández Mallo transforma cuanto encuentra a su paso en una nueva realidad la creada por su mesa de mezclas convirtiendo lo paradójico de la existencia en una verdadera poética Pura física elemental

10 thoughts on “Nocilla Lab

  1. says:

    Everything in this world resembles something else or less so we can always find some analogiesAnd every single thing in some way are always different from the other things so we can distinguish them after allIsn’t it a paradox?it would be monstrous to happen upon something absolutely new it would be nightmarish and unbearable just as two absolutely identical beings would be and so we look for arguments to take us beyond this paradox I love paradoxes or I don’t love them that’s stupid it’s just that without them life wouldn’t exist and the planet would be a wasteland so simply paradoxes are they exist full stop Nocilla Lab begins as a common travelogue and it is unmotivatedly repetitive Similar to other travelogues it is about going from place to place And differing from other travelogues it is even boringTherefore comparing to the previous parts of the trilogy Nocilla Lab is a letdown But when Agustín Fernández Mallo starts decomposing his narration replacing actuality with schizoid delirium the story simply turns preposterous“It is to be supposed that the day when plastic surgery operations take place than appendectomies planet earth will ascend to the status of fashion object”Sometimes wisdom just turns into inanity

  2. says:

    Nocilla Lab originally published in 2009 is the third in a trilogy of novels from Agustín Fernández Mallo brought into English by translator Thomas Bunstead following Nocilla Dream 2006 and Nocilla Experience 2008The book is from the wonderful Fitzcarraldo Editions This is their 22nd work of fiction of which I've read 16 although two of the 'missing' ones are the first two parts of this trilogyCopyright permitted a informative translation of the title into English might be Nutella Lab as Nocilla is a rival brand of chocolate and hazelnut spread sold in Italy and Spain and that gives an idea of the playful pop culture that co exists with serious literature as an inspiration for the author's highly innovative work As he explained to 3AM Magazine I create a whole network of metaphors which deal with the world of consumption and industry the world of science high and low culture etc and I believe that this way of mixing materials in my particular case has been inspired by conceptual art than by literature properHowever of course there are authors who have influenced me but you’ll be surprised because they are very classical authors For example I’m very interested in mystic literature St John of the Cross “low intensity” North American postmodernism Don DeLillo central European literature Thomas Bernhard Latin American Borges Cortázar Spanish Juan BenetYes Thomas Bernhard again surely the most important writer of the 2nd half of the 20th Century adding later WG Sebald one of my reference points and has been for the last ten years and elsewhere Italo Calvino and Giorgio Manganelli amongst others This novel begins with a 71 page it starts on page 11 single sentence stream of thoughts from a first person narrator also called Agustín Fernández Mallo and also author of two previous books called Nocilla Lab and Nocilla Experience For example from the first pages the only men I’ve ever been interested in are those who have struck me as both entirely different from and better than me those I consider ‘cases’ ‘clinical cases’ as the writer Emil Cioran had it when discussing a class of pathologically brilliant person and it’s in this regard the ‘clinical case’ regard that I have always hoped to find in someone those same things that set the Replicant apart the perfect being existing on the edge of humanness not beyond that edge but certainly not this side of it either exactly on the biological frontier such thoughts are absurd given that in the end we are all or less identical not identical in the way for instance that 2 photons are identical physics tells us photons are indistinguishable but in the sense of ‘very much alike’ and this is why aspiring to such difference any hope of ever becoming a ‘clinical case’ oneself turns out to be an infantile stance though a desire to be different from other people can still help you to take action to progress to work through stress and anxiety to be that is alive in a sense uite different from the ‘being alive’ idea peddled by the bland Eastern philosophies because stress promotes entropy disorder life and one travels to different countries and sees there very different things flora and fauna wise customs and appearances wise all the things that distinguish races and cultures and yet sooner or later one comes to the undeniable conclusion or formulation of what might even be a law namely that everything looked at in sufficient detail is identical to its counterpart on the far side of the world zoom in and the leaf of a scrub plant in Sardinia is the same as that of an Alaskan pine tree the skin pores of a Sudanese person are identical to those of an Inuit and there really is nothing between a Buddha figure in Bangkok and a statuette of Christ in Despeñaperros Jaén and so it is with everything because of another law both general and true the tourist goes abroad and identifies with the things he or she finds there only because they call to mind something familiar something that without being exactly the same is somewhat the same the Replicant from Blade Runner and all of this has a great deal to do with what we understand by the word frontier by the overlapping of surfaces because it would be monstrous to happen upon something absolutely new it would be nightmarish and unbearable just as two absolutely identical beings would be and so we look for arguments to take us beyond this paradox The narration is something of a spiral growing outwards and taking on themes but always returning to the certain familiar reference points and motifs inter alia a bar on an island south of Sardinia very similar to a bar in the Azores although neither he or his girlfriend has ever been to the Azores the guitar case of a Gibson Les Paul the last litter tray of a dead cat a two piece bikini with a daisy print and a Paul Auster novel in Portuguese the latter two both purchased on a trip to Las Vegas an accident in Thailand which gave him the time to write the previous novel in the trilogy and a mysterious Project planned by him and his daisy print bikini wearing girlfriend which they plan to complete in SardiniaIn the novel itself the narrator explains his preferred narrative approach note the reference to Giorgio Manganelli the pop culture and the way this particular stream of thoughts returns to that bar in Sardinia I have always tried to write totally amorally like Coca Cola moral roots unmanifest maybe this is why I like the US because like me it’s inhabitants are uncouth unconnected tourists in their own lives this is also why I am 100% with the artist John Currin when he says he only needs 10 minutes in the MoMA before he’s had his fill any longer and his own progress as an artist Ian going to be stunted History’s like a huge supermarket that’s the way it ought to be viewed yes that’s got a ring to it History as supermarket I’d get a tattoo of that if I didn’t hate tattoos so much and this method of telling stories amorally documentarily is not something I’ve taken from literature but from a film I happened across in the early 90s Japanese director Takeshi Kitano’s Hana bi a form of narration in which the only imperative is to follow the way it’s own language breathes an idea I then came across soon after in Giorgio Manganelli’s fascinating book Centuria and that was corroborated for me uite a long time later the night I met the woman now sitting across from me in a bar on the island to the south of Sardinia that bore a resemblance to a bar in the AzoresThe second part of the novel told in short numbered chapter each barely a paragraph takes on a metafictional and sinister turn think Tales of the Unexpected and includes the narrator or possibly an alter ego? writing or rewriting? the first section of the novel interspersed with some grainy photographs supposedly taken by the narrator during this part of the narrative The third which follows up on the story of the 2nd is even fragmentary and concludes that Agustín Fernández Mallo and his Nocilla Project may never have existed but that certain great literary works may have concocted in homage to him citing examples from Gabriel Garcia Maruez Wittgenstein JG Ballard and Marguerite Duras amongst others And the fourth in conjunction with the artist Pere Joan is a graphic short story involving another post modern Spanish author the excellent Enriue Vila MatasIt all adds up to a wonderful mix His Fitzcarraldo stable mate Matthias Enard has hailed him as the most original and powerful author of his generation in Spain he was born in 1967 and it is interesting to compare and contrast the two both highly literary and given to long unbroken page like sentences Enard's masterpiece Zone is one 521 page sentence but where as Enard is deliberately and rather anachronistically old fashioned and cultured Fernández Mallo's writing is infused with pop culture and a network mix of many extraliterary materials his words from the same 3AM interview Both are excellent While this certainly can be read stand alone I suspect to fully appreciate it I would need to read the first two parts of the trilogy as well as the associated film made by the author in parallel with the novels see which unfortunately is only available in Spanish So 4 stars for now but perhaps 5 when I can appreciate the Proyecto Nocilla Nocilla Project as a whole

  3. says:

    A Poorly Constructed Novel with Photos Drawings a Graphic Novel and a Video And Some Really Amazing SexismCaveat emptor this is not a positive review Perhaps it's true as the Paris Review says that the Nocilla trilogy has catapulted Mallo to the forefront of his generation Twitter line for the essay by Thomas Bunstead Feb 4 2019 but in that case nearly any injection of the novel with a large dose of Robert Smithson Situationism Dadaism poetry science appropriation collage and uotes and cut and paste technology often anachronistic images almost always pixelated and comic books would have done the sameFirst A some remarks on the book's use of photographs drawings a graphic novel and an associated video I read this book in connection with the writingwithimagescom project because it has so many visual elements After that some negative things B the book's construction and C its really surprising sexismThis review is of the new English translation put out by Fitzcarraldo Editions I also want to be clear that Fitzcarraldo Editions are a spectacular press and the translation here strikes me as pitch perfectA The visual elementsThis third and final volume of the Nocilla trilogy has three parts I Automatic Search Engine II Automatic Engine and III Engine Parts I think it may be truer to the reading experience to divide it in six1 Automatic Search Engine which is an 80 page run on sentence Not a single sentence as I wrote about Mathias Enard's Crossing the Zone Not incidentally both are translated in Fitzcarraldo Editions and Enard has contributed to the tidal swells of praise of the Nocilla trilogy2 Automatic Engine which is 44 numbered sections interrupted by3 Eight pages of photographs with words that have supposedly been typed on them4 The first part of Engine Parts which is set in monospace type as if it has been typed5 The second part of Engine Parts which is a self contained graphic novel6 There is also a video project named in the book in Notes and Credits two pages after the end of the novel It is on the author's website fernandezmallomegustaleercom and on Vimeo at vimeocom6897147I put it this way because these visual interruptions are important in the reading experience than the three titled parts Images are crucial in the book and yet they are extremely carelessly done To justify that I need to make three myopic criticismsA single image of a page of the narrator's notebook appears by itself on p 84 There are several other references to the notebook but no other illustrations even though there are other passages that could make good use of reproductions such as the measurements of the prison on pp 105 108 The picture in uestion is the plan of a campsite Inexplicably names of the parts of the campsite are printed not drawn on the sketch; apparently readers aren't meant to ask themselves how that happenedThe Eight pages of photographs are introduced in the narrative just preceding them pp 127 29 they are pictures the narrator took and then printed out and put into his typewriter But they're clearly pictures that have been scanned and lettered in an image processing app the text is white on black and too neat to be a typewriter Again readers are not expected to be looking that closelyThe short graphic novel at the end of the book has tiny print too small to read comfortably indicating it was drawn much larger and that the reduction wasn't anticipatedThese are small points but they go to a systemic issue Fernandez Mallo expects readers to think mainly about his text and to look only carelessly and uickly at his images That is why it can make sense to divide the book in three parts despite the surprising and anomalous presence of photographs and a graphic novelB The narrativeThere's a good summary of the major parts of this book on Goodreads written by Paul Fulcher However I can't agree that the combination of elements adds up to a wonderful mix After Automatic Search Engine the 80 page run on sentence the book is exceptionally carelessly assembled Automatic Search Engine owes something to Bernhard Beckett Enard and others; it's seamless and tightly recursive The following narrative of numbered sections Automatic Engine follows suit in a fragmented manner All this is ruminative self reflective and largely plotless in the manner of any number of postmodern writers including Krasznahorkai and Vila Matas who appears in the graphic novelBut the book suddenly veers aside on p 118 when it is revealed that the owner of a hotel has the same name as the author From that moment onward it reads like genre fiction Sometimes it's like detective fiction the narrator searches the hotel or crime fiction the narrator knifes his namesake or Poe the hotel become mysterious and sinister or even King roots from the other side of the Earth push up through the garden I don't mind collages of manners and influences but these are not managed allusions The pages feel improvised and they come across as a failure of imagination It takes concentration and a steady purpose to write 80 pages of continuous monologue It's relatively easy to make up new mysteries and inexplicable events every couple pages I don't think this is postmodern collage at all; I think it's a lapse in energy and resources The short graphic novel isn't the fascinating turn into the visual world that it might have been it's simply pasted on The book is badly constructed and it doesn't represent our contemporary digital age which is infinitely aware of the visual and of different media C The sexismI have difficulty understanding why the reviews I've seen don't mention the book's endemic sexism The narrator has a female companion through most of the book At one point he says she's brilliant and she says great things but she's only uoted three or four times and most of those sentences include the word fuck The narrator spends his days writing he's working on the novel we're reading but we have almost no idea what she does all day except swim and smoke When the narrator spends time with people we're told she doesn't speak We're told over and over all the way to the very end of the novel that she bought a bikini with daisies on the breasts We're told over and over that she bought new knickers every day Piles of her knickers turn up in unexpected places There must be fifty or references to themThis is head shaking endemic rooted unconscious unironic sexism If it were at all self aware in any capacity I might want to defend it What makes it disastrous is the continuous distraction of the fact that the implied author thinks all's well

  4. says:

    I guess many of us have had an experience a bit like the following You wake up one night in the middle of a dream The dream was a jumble of things that all seemed out of order but it made sense in a dream like way Then you manage to go back to sleep and the dream continues This time it seems a bit logical but it takes a turn towards something weird almost Kafka esue and disturbing It reaches a violent climax that jerks you awake Then you lie there dozing half asleep half awake with dream like fragments of thought flashing through your mindThis in essence is what it feels like to read Nocilla Lab And then there’s a short graphic novel at the end to finish it offNocilla Lab is the third part of the Nocilla trilogy All the books can be read on their own but that is especially true of this final part which does not reuire you to read either of the first two parts one of the main characters is the author and he explains how and when he wrote the first two partsThe first part of the book Automatic Search Engine focusses on a couple a man and a woman It is an 80 page sentence in which several different episodes in their life are jumbled and trigger further thoughts in the narrator’s mind It is a bit like trying to get through a maze The narrative wanders down one path but then suddenly turns off to another Sometimes it sets off into something that seems completely unrelated hits a dead end and goes back to where it was Often it gets back to a point that the reader recognises and sets off again Our protagonists seem to wander the globe preparing for their mysterious Great Project which is contained in a guitar case they carry with themIt is confusing but not as confusing as you might think I found the whole thing both mesmerising and addictive It returns to known points at just the right freuency for the reader to be able to keep some kind of orientation You feel as if you know what is happening despite the jumble and the additional side alleys etcIn the second part Automatic Engine the same couple settle down in a strange weird even hotel It would spoil things to talk about what happens but it begins to feel very much like a horror storyAt this point the page numbers stop but the book has not finished Part three is Engine Fragments The font changes the page numbers disappear and short paragraphs skitter around some progressing the main themes others seeming almost randomThen to close things there is a short graphic novel featuring Enriue Vila Matas on an oil rigSeriously what’s not to like?My personal experience of the whole trilogy has been that I loved the first part Nocilla Dream for it’s dream like uality and the way it circled round a tree in the Nevada desert Part Two Nocilla Experience was in some ways of the same but somehow didn’t have uite the magic of the first part for me This final part possibly my favourite is completely different and I read it with a smile on my face The language and I assume a lot of credit goes to the translator here is very poetic and even the 80 page sentence is enjoyable at a sentence level I really enjoyed the stories told as well as the way they are told I am not sure how or even if it all hangs together but I am also not at all sure that “hanging together” is the point The author is part scientist part poet and that is evident through the books As with a lot of poetry the purpose isn’t necessarily for everything to make logical sense but to create an impression and plant things in the reader’s mind Anyone who has read many of my reviews will know that this is my favourite kind of bookThis is a trilogy I would gladly read again and probably will at some point soon I can appreciate that it is not everyone’s idea of fun but I loved it

  5. says:

    An Italian restaurant – which in Italy set off a new wave of trendy experimental cooking finally opens a branch in LondonI decide to visitThe antipasto course is a Nutella sandwichFor the second I am served a Ferrero RocherThe main course – the culmination of the meal – may be brilliant and a review on Suaremeal says it is albeit by a critic well known to be biased in favour of restaurants interpreting food from non English speaking chefs; however based on the first two courses my appetite and appreciation for the chef has already been ruined and I cannot finish the meal or share my thoughts on SuaremealMy Nutella themed review of Nocilla DreamhttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowMy Ferrero Rocher themed review of Nocilla ExperiencehttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowA review of Nocilla LabhttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowNB – Nocilla is a Spanish version of Nutella

  6. says:

    45 I gulped this down in two days enjoying it immensely Not in the mood to write a long review so in a nutshell it feels as if here Mallo has mastered what he set out to do Nocilla Dream which still had a rather clear demarcation between fiction and non fiction eg lots of cited sources to bring attention to the non fictionality while Nocilla Lab reads smoothly as a well written experimental novel where the author’s expertise in physics serves the narrative beautifully Unlike the first two novels this begins with an 80 page sentence without paragraph breaks followed by much succinct chapters continuing the same story but now increasingly bordering on horror The ending a graphic “novel” short story builds on themes present earlier Lots to mull over in this fine conclusion to the trilogy the best of the three I would say – I might write a longer piece after some reflection

  7. says:

    CN fatphobiaI normally lap up experimental texts and I find texts made up of a single sentence hard to resist but what I read of this felt hollow and mostly I just skimmed it after page 50 Most of all I have to say I was massively turned off by the author's violent fatphobia Page 46 a fairly overweight woman who was sitting at a table with her husband 12 metres away from us a woman who would happily ingest all manner of fats and thereby put an end to her youth a woman who was cholesterol through and through began compulsively wafting her hands and saying for all to hear You're smoking me out You're smoking me out and it was a no smoking place but all the same this woman failed to see that she had destroyed her life to the extent that she no longer has any tolerance for other human beings she was pure exaggeration she had become the thing that resembles everything except itself humankind reduced to a personality less object the very opposite of silence or of Coca Cola or that book entitled The Music of Chance that we had read in Las Vegas while my girlfriend lay smoking in silence and made of her body the perfect combination of 70% water and 30% smoke because the fat pedant woman was ignorant of the fact that smoke and water combine to delicate effect when added together they form a perfectly homogenous mixture ignorant of the fact that 50% water and 50% fat of which her body was made would never mixand at the bottom of p 47 extinguishing her cigarette out of respect for this woman's mental illnessNow it does sound like this woman was genuinely rude but it doesn't make Mallo less of a dickhead for saying these things nor does the fact that the passage includes a tongue in cheek bit about the benefits of smoking Especially as everything in the text points to the fact that at least the novel's first section is autobiographical and a fairly accurate reflection of the author's thoughts and experiences strongly suggesting that Mallo means everything he says about the woman and by extension about all fat people humankind reduced to a personality less object In other words if this had been a fictional character's thoughts fine perhaps but these do seem to be Mallo's own thoughts And if they aren't then it should have been clearerAnd since life is finite and there are tons of great books to read out there I decided to curtail the time I was spending on this one and move on to something else maybe a different Fitzcarraldo book like Flights or This Little Art or Essayism or Tell Them of Battles all wonderful At first I was going to just remove the book from my Goodreads shelf without making much of a fuss but then it occurred to me that some may want to be warned about the above passage And so here we are I don't particularly wish to engage in a debate about the merits of my decision in the comments section

  8. says:

    The Nocilla trilogy is strange It feels familiar in the way the internet does The first two books are told in a similar style they present about a page of text in third person about a person struggling with their relationship to something or someone—typically something manifested through their relationship with someone I can’t claim to understand them in any overarching or systematic way They seem like they present a vision of our relationship to allegory and metaphor while playing in a space that feels similar to 2666 in the sense that if we can’t have a coherent narrative or present a singular story we all rally behind we can still have something It builds on that even though the author admits to never having read it though there is a character who airs out his theorems on clotheslines much like a character in Bolaño’s novel airs out a geometry book on a clothesline We spend time in both books thinking about what this means to the character and to us as readers and I’m not really sure we get super far in a way I can set down definitively though the experience is interesting if not enlighteningThe last book Nocilla Lab is where things change The form changes suddenly the first part is a single 64 page sentence I liked this part a lot though it was challenging to read because the style of the previous books remained nearly but not uite verse but set in prose I won’t spoil the rest of the book but it plays with form and representation and metaphor in a way few pieces of media doThere are parts I don’t like I don’t like how most of the characters are men how there’s a kind of universality to the phallocentrism of all the narratives even the ones about women I don’t like how in one case a character offers a terrible description of a fat women after she chides him for smoking in a non smoking area The author loves cigarettes than almost anything This comes through clearly in every book This character offers a page of beautiful description and metaphor and inference about how terrible this woman is how she embodies all that is bad in humanity c but does not turn his critical lens on himself and both what he was doing to prompt the rebuke and what his own behavior means in the context of what he’s discussing Perhaps that’s kind of the point It’s a good writer that can make me continue to read a book after I loathe a characterThese books are absolutely worth your time

  9. says:

    As you can tell by the star rating I really didn't get on with this I have honestly no idea what I or anybody else is meant to get from the experience of reading this novel The narrator who is on some level the author is unlikable He is made incandescently furious by an overweight woman who complains about his girlfriend's smoking for some bizarre aesthetic reason and constantly talks about his girlfriend's physical appearanceThe first and largest part of the book is written stream of consciousness with no paragraphs or full stops despite the writing clearly including phrases that call out for both of them This makes reading it unnecessarily tiring Nothing much happens in it detail is revealed aching slowly and I don't understand why using non standard punctuation is meant improve my experience of the book It is vaguely hinted that this is to increase the reader's understanding of the importance of gaps and silence when consuming literature but if there is than this it is obliue to meThe second part of the book is written grammatically Be warned what follows is technically spoilers but this book doesn't have a plot to speak of In book's second part the author meets an older version of himself himself from the future? Who knows in a former prison turned tax dodging eco resort and gradually goes completely insane with the imagery of the book becoming increasingly dreamlikeThere are various low uality photographs and the book ends with a short section of graphic novelI have recently been making a conscious effort to broaden my reading including various books which are literary or even experimental This was entirely a bridge too far I am aware that lot of art reuires effort to appreciate but the effort that this would have reuired from feels frankly arrogant on the part of the author There was nothing to intrigue me or grip me in the book and anything that seemed like it might be interesting didn't go anywhere and neither were there characters that I was sympathetic towardsFor me worth reading if you are convinced that all conventional literature is boring and samey So for me not worth reading

  10. says:

    If you've ever seen Denis Villeneuve's avante garde film Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal then you may have some idea what this novel is like Off kilter disturbing and poetic never have I read a novel which so closely resembles stepping into an avante garde film Entertaining and wildly offbeat Nocilla Lab goes in directions that no reader could predict after reading the first two novelsOn one hand I concede completely it's a load of classic pretentious male Postmodernist BS But on the other it's loads of fun And so yes even though it's pretentious even though it's one of those self indulgent novels that's to some extent about the act of writing than anything else I loved reading Nocilla Lab I liked it even than the first novelSome reasons why While reading the first novel I thought I detected the influence of Don Delillo in its pages Delillo being one of my personal favorite writers After reading the third one I searched around and found an interview with Agustin Fernandez Mallo in which he cited Delillo as one of his biggest influences So if you like Delillo especially something like Underworld you will probably love these novels as wellPart of this is the fact that they are brief novels Mallo's experiment is careful never to overstay its welcome And this is a blessing

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