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The Possibility of Music

The Possibility of Music by Stephen-Paul Martin
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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.


University of Alabama Press; December 2010
161 pages; ISBN 9781573668019
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Title: The Possibility of Music
Author: Stephen-Paul Martin
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