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This review is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

Not to Fall Silent gabriel josipovici, Infinity: The Story of a Moment (Carcanet) £11.65

Gabriel Josipovici's new novel may be subtitled 'the story of a moment', but it is also the story of a man. Avant-garde composer Tancredo Pavone is, says his manservant Massimo, 'a singular gentleman', and his singularity saturates this short text. Yet Pavone is absent; we only hear his voice as ventriloquised by Massimo, in an interview after his master's death. Thus, one voice articulates and amplifies another. The form is familiar, harking back to earlier books by the author - Moo Pak, among others - as well as to Thomas Bernhard. And like the best of Bernhard's creations, Pavone is partly inspired by a real person: Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-88), whose blend of microtonal experimentation and Eastern mysticism Josipovici has characterised as 'a curious mixture of profundity and bullshit'.

The phrase is instructive, since it signals that Scelsi's avatar isn't to be taken too seriously. Pavone is, like his namesake (the word means 'peacock'), a preening creature. And yet, as with Jack Toledano in Moo Pak, perhaps it is Pavone's bullshit - his all-too-human absurdity - that makes his profundity possible. We shouldn't straightforwardly search for 'meaning' in Pavone's tall tales. In Infinity, meaning lies less in words than in the rhythm of a voice struggling not to fall silent. And this rhythm is what reveals the voice's frailty, its finitude. As with Reger in Bernhard's Old Masters, such a revelation overrides any merely ironic response to the voice or its worldview. So it is with ...


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