4x4: Four reviewers, four unique versions of Tristano
Nanni Balestrini’s algorithmic structure has provoked four reviewers to contemplate what their own unique Tristano copies might mean for possible future novelistic forms, language, meaning and the technologies of book and text production.
Thomas Jones of the LRB praises the novel's ‘overall effect’ which, he claims, ‘chapter by chapter, can be mesmerizing. There is no meaning but something like a dream of meaning.’ Bill Jeffery of the TLS finds ‘intriguing’ the associations that the novel produces, stating that ‘occasionally the results are startling: the shift from one paragraph to another can feel so natural that is hard to believe it could be arranged otherwise.’ James Bridle of the Observer notes the ‘highly enjoyable primer on algorithmic texts’ by Umberto Eco, adding ‘Balestrini's prophetic work presages our contemporary outsourcing of so much genius to the machines.’
As Juliet Jacques, writing for the New Statesman, points out:
Endless novels present fixed versions of events, and it’s baffling that those few to challenge this should attract opprobrium…Tristano is particularly successful in raising the idea that the structures that authors choose are not always necessarily the best possible.
To read the reviews in full, visit the LRB, New Statesman, the Observer, and the TLS.