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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Chromos is one of the true masterpieces of post-World War II fiction. Written in the 1940s but left unpublished until 1990, it anticipated the fictional inventiveness of the writers who were to come along - Barth, Coover, Pynchon, Sorrentino, and Gaddis. Chromos is the American immigration novel par excellence. Its opening line is: "The moment one learns English, complicat...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published April 1st 1990 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published January 2nd 1985)
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Mike Puma
Jul 10, 2012 Mike Puma rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: the few

“Christ with castanets,” says Alfau without emphasis; “Cheeses!” as I’m wont to say myself.

It’s hard, for me, to know what exactly to say about Chromos. Brilliant. Incredible. All the usual predicate adjectives that seem to say so much while saying so little, other than exert with some vehemence that I was taken by the novel, tossed around for a couple weeks, then deposited on this side of the TBRs-Accomplished. In my case, ‘tossed around for a couple weeks’ may be considered warning as Chromos

MJ Nicholls
I read Locos: A Comedy of Gestures over two and half years ago, so I have no idea how Alfau’s two fiction books dovetail. But Mike will. So watch his space, watch his face. I can assert that (as far as my memory of Locos extends, which isn’t very far, though I do recall reading portions on the fifth floor toilet at Napier U—strange how memory works) Chromos is the superior work. Despite its “anticipating the fictional inventiveness of Barth, Coover et al” the novel is quite straightforward to re...more
‘And this is the stereochronic sense of life: to change, to retrace and to advance, to sidestep oneself and join one’s other past, present and future selves, and by undergoing this displacement along the axis of possibilities, to raise the curtain of man’s next state and let consciousness flood our total identity which remains invariant under all transformations. This is metanthropy.’

‘In Spain there is no aristocracy but only nobility, and there is a great difference, oh, yes!’

‘He remembered his...more
Tom Lichtenberg
Chromos, by Felipe Alfau, is a sort of inverted Arabian Nights. Fictional characters insist on telling stories to the narrator, who doesn’t want to hear them. The stories bleed into one another, each one at least as compelling as the one before. The characters are from an earlier novel by the same author, characters who had dreamed of becoming real, and now here they are, meeting him years later in New York, telling stories of their own. It is an extraordinary novel, as was its predecessor, Loco...more
"The moment one learns English, complications set in. Try as one may, one cannot elude this conclusion, one must inevitably come back to it. This applies to all persons, including those born to the language and, at times, even more so to Latins, including Spaniards. It manifests itself in an awareness of implications and intricacies to which one had never given a thought; it afflicts one with that officiousness of philosophy which, having no business of its own, gets in everybody's way and, in t...more
Chromos is a story about a man telling a story about a man telling a story about..... well you get it. Much of the book is about a man who is writing a screen play and a story. The proposed translator is reading and being read said stories. Oh did I mention that, I think it was the translator, can actually read minds as well and you are privileged enough to hear the stories going on in others' heads? So it sounds like a decent enough idea for a book but the problems out weigh any of the brillian...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Famous first sentences from unfamous novels:

"The moment one learns English, complications set in."
terrific, I simply vanished into the 3 or 4 narratives that moved through the book, like clouds in an August sky overhead while I was sitting in a comfy folding chair at the beach... at the beach, yes the beach, it took me months to read this, I wish I was still reading it, I wish it was going to be summer for another 3 months. Plot? No, not really... but who cares! Chromos was a pleasure to spend the summer with.
Geoff Wehmeyer
I found the Garcia narratives to be pretty banal (as intended, i guess), but the last 150 pages were excellent. Party scenes were terrific, reminded me of the Recognitions - enjoyed the mathematical side of Don Pedro as well.
This was one strange book. Not really much of a plot, but that was half the point.

I'm just not very big into postmodern writing, and I'm trying to figure out why this is on the banned books list...
Isla McKetta
Couldn't do it. Any fiction book that uses "lemma" in the first two pages...I am relatively certain the language was intentionally stilted, but I just couldn't do it.
Jan 31, 2011 Tuck added it
Shelves: dalkey-archive
unfortunately this novel was too hard for me to read or finish.
Lane Wilkinson
enjoyable, though I admit to being unable to follow the story.
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Felipe Alfau was an American Spanish novelist and poet. Like his contemporaries Luigi Pirandello and Flann O'Brien, Alfau is considered a forerunner of later postmodern writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, and Gilbert Sorrentino.
More about Felipe Alfau...
Locos: A Comedy of Gestures Sentimental Songs = La Poesía Cursi Cuentos Españoles de Antaño Die Hexe Von Amboto: Alte Spanische Märchen

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“This has been done by masters of the trade and Garcia had taken in every stock situation with amazing powers of retention, but he had not put things together right and had used extraordinary discernment in not adding one single touch of originality.” 1 likes
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