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Dalkey Archive Pr
Finalist for the 1990 National Book Award <P>In 1988, Dalkey Archive reprinted Felipe Alfau's neglected masterpiece of 1936, Locos: A Comedy of Gestures, which drew renewed praise from the New Yorker and other magazines. Chromos, his second and only other novel, was written in the 1940s but never publishedlargely, we suspect, because it was years ahead of its time, using techniques that would later be "discovered" by such authors as John Barth, Donald Barthelme, and Thomas Pynchon. Like these authors, Alfau turns the conventional novel on its head. An eerie frame story encloses a series of episodes and tales-within-tales, some of them "chromos"sentimental calendar-style picturesof old Spain, others blackly humorous stories of Spaniards acclimatizing to life in Manhattan in the 1930s, culminating in a saturnalian party of epic proportions, in which Spanish dancers mingle with faded actors, bizarre fantasists, mathematical wizards, singers, guitarists, and other representatives of the Spanish colony. Everything from the proper way to drink wine to theories of entropy are bandied about in this strange tertulia, which ends with a Kafkaesque episode of unforgettable power.