Because we were late in arriving, because we were late in departing, because we didn’t care that we’d be late, and, above all, because those from whom we waited turned out to be ourselves, which is to say, the others, the ones we called, ‘the slow ones.’ – The No Variations
Readers can only hope to be included in that community, that “we,” for the community described so affectionately here makes this one of the most memorable passages from The No Variations, Luis Chitarroni’s dense and often disorienting new non-novel. The passage appears early in the text, while expectations of narrative continuity still hold purchase. Lateness, in fact, extends hope for a plot, and with its charisma buys patience against the frustrations of plots subsequent absence. Instead of plot, the novel offers personality. The expansiveness and potential inclusivity of this passage pleasurably inscribes the writer himself; yet the same sort of expansiveness can slide easily into solipsism, an overindulgent memoirish quality.
The No Variations balances between anecdote and comprehensive narrative. The tension between the two appears as early as the subtitle, which includes two distinctive genres, the diary and the novel. Presumably about the process of finishing, or trying to finish a novel, the text lingers in the vicinity of narrative, very literally “about” a novel, but there is no plot proper to this text. The specter of a plot as the ideal end of these notes makes its absence in the text a frustrating element. Instead, Chitarroni offers vignettes of the protagonist, Nicasio Urlihrt, trying to revive a literary anthology with poems and prose by friends and colleagues. The compilation of these notes makes little sense, however, although it does collate little plots, some more realistic than others, and often narrating the obstacles of everyday life that make literary work so difficult: “There were whole days and nights,” Chitarroni continues, “During which we lost our way…during which we lost our purpose. We bummed around exchanging tales of days gone by, anecdotes, gossip.”