21st Century Literature discussion

Infinity: The Story of a Moment
This topic is about Infinity
9/20 Infinity > Infinity - Whole Book (spoilers allowed)

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Vesna (ves_13) | 157 comments Mod
Since the novel is short, this is a single spoiler thread. Please share your reactions to the whole or any parts/aspects of the book. I am currently reading it and will soon add some of my questions and thoughts when I finish it.

message 2: by Paul (last edited Sep 01, 2020 07:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 186 comments These aren't spoilers as such but posted here as best contemplated after reading:

- what exactly happened with Miss Mauss the maid?

- how is Massimo so eloquent (even if his thoughts are, he claims, relayed ones) on topics he claims not to understand?

- who is the interviewer?

- why does Massimo agree to talk to him given Pavone's strongly expressed views on those more interested in a composer’s life than his music?

This is what gives me a Cemetery in Barnes vibe - that it feels there is more going on that what's on the surface

NB this is a very good review by another Vesna the author of the best book I've read in 2020 (Only a Lodger . . . And Hardly That: A Fictional Autobiography):


Vesna (ves_13) | 157 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "These aren't spoilers as such but posted here as best contemplated after reading:

- what exactly happened with Miss Mauss the maid?

- how is Massimo so eloquent (even if his thoughts are, he clai..."

Great questions, Paul. I'll finish it soon and join the discussion but a couple of your questions were also in my mind and kept coming back as I've been reading,

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 186 comments Worth saying given it is Josipovici that he won’t know the answers!

I had the chance to ask him in person (in drinks after the Goldsmiths shortlist readings) about C in Barnes and if he knew what the real truth of the story was, and his response was “No, of course not, if I knew what happened, I wouldn’t need to write the book.”

Vesna (ves_13) | 157 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Worth saying given it is Josipovici that he won’t know the answers!

I had the chance to ask him in person (in drinks after the Goldsmiths shortlist readings) about C in Barnes and if he knew what..."

Well, I finished the book and I can't answer your questions with any greater confidence than when I started it :-) But that's what is so fascinating about Josipovici. Loose ends (Miss Mauss), mysterious character (the interviewer, who is "I"?), elusive lines between the factual and fictitious, ... and yet wholly satisfying. I very much enjoyed reading it.

I loved how he mixed curmudgeonry and humor, pompous vanity and genuine wisdom. And lots of interesting thoughts about artistic authenticity.

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 186 comments Yes this was an excellent book I thought

message 7: by Mark (new)

Mark | 334 comments I'm about 1/3 through, and there's a strong whiff of Sebald, with the reported speech and the wry humor.

Marcus Hobson | 79 comments I just finished reading Infinity.
I collected up a number of quotes from the story that I particularly liked. I put markers in the book as I read so that I can come back and find them. As I transcribed a few into my review, I noticed how often the author repeats “Massimo, he said” and all those little prompts to tell us that this is remembered speak. I hardly noticed them at all while I was reading, which is interesting, given how peppered the narrative is with the same phrases.

Thinking about the interviewer - I’m pretty sure we know nothing about him/her. Who is the interview for - a magazine, newspaper or film - nothing. We are so quickly caught up in Massimo’s narrative that we give the interviewer no thought.

I enjoyed this book - my only other Josipovici books are The Cemetery in Barnes and the latest, Forgetting, both of which I loved more than this one. I think that was because I kept feeling there were things happening in this book that I didn’t know enough about. As though I could turn to Google every few paragraphs and look up people and places and flesh out the story more.

The parts that did work for me were the pieces about the composer’s wife Arabella - sailing with cows and cricket with lords - was a lovely sentence, and also the enovkation of Rome at night - wondering the quiet streets. Although the the two mentions of this time are at odds with each other, as the first talks about meeting people in the all-night bars and the other talks about wandering the residential streets where everyone is asleep.

Nidhi Kumari | 23 comments I also finished this book and liked it. I liked the philosophy on music and life, especially about listening to the streets at night, the use of ‘he said ‘ was unusual. I found it amusing that Massimo lost the thread repeatedly and seemed unwilling to talk but when he started talking, he recited whole pages in original form.

message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark | 334 comments My, that was over quickly! My library has several other titles; I'm curious how they will fit with this one.

Vesna (ves_13) | 157 comments Mod
I think what appeals to us in Infinity at least partly mirrors our own predilections. Music is one of my passions and I was very much drawn to the way Tancredo eventually reached his ideas about what makes music-making authentic. And it was fun to read his humorous dismissals of some music giants.

I was also intrigued why Josipovici chose a chauffeur and 'manservant' to relate to us the composer's philosophy of life and his esthetic ruminations. Except for rare moments suggestive of their differences in education and social status, Massimo was almost like a perfect mirror of his 'master'. At one point I even thought that it was Tancredo playing an illusion on the interviewer and us. Still not sure about the conception of Massimo in a fictional sense...

message 12: by Sam (new)

Sam | 208 comments I kind of let the time slide by on this waiting to comment till we're September and into October. But I still want to say something rather than just leave the topic dead.
My first response after reading the novel was to try and imagine my response were I unfamiliar with Scelsi and I could not. I knew that Scelsi served as a model before I read the book and I had an opinion from having read about and listened to Scelsi. That would have been my first question to the other readers--have you heard Scelsi?


Scelsi is also important for his cult status. I think you could gather that from reading the book, but here is another video that illustrates this.

So my reading was colored by my perception of Scelsi.

I saw the novel as an essay in celebration and defense of modernism written in the form of a novel, and I think Josipovici succeeded from that perspective.
We've been discussing the roles of Massimo and the interviewer. I won't add to that, but by using that device to relate the story, Josipovici is able to distance himself as author from the reader, allowing him to get away with a few things he couldn't were he writing an essay, plus the reading is far more enjoyable. A dryer read, Josipovici's What Ever Happened to Modernism? makes a good companion read to Infinity because one sees how much more accessible and fun theory is when shown in fiction rather than told in essay.

I don't know if I accept a primal basic om echoing throughout the universe and recognizable in Tibetan chants or horns, but the concept is more mystical and fun when recounted to an interviewer by a servant as heard from the artist whom the servant claims he didn't understand.

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