Jorge Armenteros’ Touch That Which We Cannot Possess is a wonderful novel: passionate, fascinating, and educational at the same time. It is all about being human, music, love, and miracle. Readers who are far from classical music will learn a lot and get interested in music as it has been happening with many generations after reading Leo Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata.
Levon Ambartsumian, Franklin Professor of Violin,
University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music
In the tradition of Tolstoy’s “Kholstomer” or Victor Pelevin’s “The Life and Adventures of Shed No. XII,” Jorge Armenteros takes us on a consciousness expanding picaresque with an unnamed “cheap” violin from 17th century Venice to modern day New York, from classical music to jazz, to a deep exploration not only of our relationship with music but of “the brotherhood of bodies,” both animate and inanimate, with which we inhabit this world. As Armenteros says so eloquently, “There is the music of birds and elephants. There is the music of fish underwater. There is the music of falling leaves. And there is the music of the world spinning and the winds whirling.” Bravo for the hands that write such musical sentences. Bravo for the imagination that dares to show us what a novel can do. Bravo for this new book by Jorge Armenteros.
Peter Grandbois, author of half-burnt and The Three-Legged World
If Kafka wrote about objects instead of his insect and animal stories, you’d get something akin to Armenteros’ deliciously fine-tuned and deeply original lyrical novel, Touch That Which We Cannot Possess. After reading this book, you may never glimpse an object the same way again; a carnal body mired in beauty, desire, shit, love, lust, jealousy, vengefulness, and loneliness. A sweet and vindictive thing that breathes, feels, thinks, and manipulates; but also, a thing that is loved, abused, and violated, string by string, hole by hole. Visually and aurally mesmerizing, the novel weaves a refreshing tale of a violin, whose dissected and continually repackaged body reflects our own shattered identities and souls as we interact with lovers and abusers. Vivid, chilling, and intoxicating, it’s a book best enjoyed with a glass of absinthe in an opium den, redolent of sweat, eau de cologne, and packed bodies. Sensually addictive and brilliantly memorable, like a first kiss or cigarette.
Pedram Navab, author of This Will Destroy You
(2019 Foreword INDIES finalist)
Jorge Armenteros was born in Cuba, his family leaving for Madrid, Spain, then Tampa, Florida, before finally settling in Puerto Rico. After graduating from Harvard University, he acquired an MD at the University of Puerto Rico and completed his residency in psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, later obtaining an MA in Spanish and Latin American Literature at New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University. Armenteros is the author of the 2015 International Latino Book Award winner The Book of I (Jaded Ibis Press), and the Striped Tunic Trilogy: Air, The Roar of the River, and The Spiral of Words (Spuyten Duyvil Press). His author interviews and book reviews have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle, American Book Review, Rain Taxi, and Gargoyle. Armenteros resides in the South of France.