An exhilarating collection about the limits of language, narrative, and identity.
The Possibility of Music is an imaginative reconstruction of America in the early 21st century. What would our post-9/11 society look like if it were viewed through a series of funhouse mirrors?
Each of Stephen-Paul Martin’s stories is a response to this question, a prose exploration that redefines what it means to write fiction in a world in which the Sistein Chapel has become the Mall of America. Nightmarish at times, playfully amusing at others, Martin’s prose is relentlessly inventive and challenging, relocating the experimental tradition of Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Marquez in a contemporary context in which intelligent communication has become both impossible and increasingly necessary.
"I’d always told myself that if I ever wrote my own music," the narrator of one story says, "every composition would become its own distinct struggle with aesthetic questions that emerged as the process unfolded." In good part, that’s what animates The Possibility of Music, a book in which John Coltrane’s "Love Supreme" moves through characters and stories like a soundtrack.
Stephen-Paul Martin (Things, Invading Reagan, Until it Changes), fiction (Instead of Confusion, the Gothic Twilight) , and nonfiction. Currently Professor of English at San Diego State University, from 1980— 1996 he edited Central Park magazine, and taught at New York University.
"Martin spins his arresting tales, tales full of surprises and yet reassuringly ‘normal.’ The Possibility of Musicis a joy to read."
— Marjorie Perloff
" Martin has, for many years, brilliantly wrestled with the problems posed by his own chosen material/experience. Entering his witty contemporary monologues, the reader unravels the great questions: does a person anticipate his or her own actions, as one word in a sentence anticipates the next? Or is an event an explosion of contingencies that arrive fully integrated? ‘I didn’t expect to become a composer,’ he beings one story and this one statement articulates the magnificent and entertaining wrestling match he performs with time and act in each of his beautifully crafted stories."