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From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate

by Nathaniel Mackey

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Mackey’s major prose project is an experiment in serial fiction called From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate. It feels, sentence to sentence and page to page, like a work in the act of being created. It is not simply writing about jazz, but writing as jazz… There is a cliché about music writing, sometimes attributed to Thelonious Monk, among others: ‘ Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.’ If so, Nathaniel Mackey is compelled, rather than deterred, by the multiform madness of the enterprise. he is the Balanchine of the architecture dance.

—David Hajdu, New York Times

The great American jazz novel of "such exquisite rhythmic lyricism" (Bookforum) by National Book Award Winner Nathaniel Mackey.


From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate

Fiction by Nathaniel Mackey

From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate Volumes 1-3 collects the first three installments—Bedouin Hornbook, Djbot Baghostus’s Run and ATET A.D.—of Nathaniel Mackey’s genre-defying work of fiction. A project that began over thirty years ago, From a Broken Bottle is a lifelong epistolary novel that unfolds through N.’s intimate letters to the mysterious Angel of Dust. Unexpected, profound happenings occur as N. delves into music and art and the goings-on of his transmorphic Los Angeles-based jazz ensemble, in which he is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. The story opens in July 1978 with a dream of haunting Archie Shepp solo, and closes in September 1982 on a glass-bottomed boat borne aloft by the music. This edition also includes a discography, plus an author’s note that offers some reflections on the writings of this extraordinary novel—a realist-mythic layering of lyrical prose unlike anything being written today.

published July 30th, 2010