Palinuro Of Mexico ($14.95 paperback original; Jul. 15, 1996; 557 pp.; 1-56478-095-3): This intimidating Joycean novel, highly acclaimed when originally published (1977) in Spain, then later in its author's native Mexico and throughout Europe, is actually more commonplace-book than fiction: a rhapsodic celebration of the intricacy of the human body and its possibilities, sung (as it were) by del Paso's polymathic protagonist and narrator. He's a forbiddingly brilliant medical student, whose fascination with physical minutiae encapsulates the writer's curiosity about humanity, exactly as his solidarity with his eccentric family and infatuation with his beautiful cousin Estefania signify, while celebrating, the pleasures of insularity and self-absorption. The novel's encyclopedic structure and content recall Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, as well as Tristram Shandy (to which it gracefully alludes). Demanding, mandarin, occasionally infuriating: the kind of book you're unlikely to finish the same year you begin it, but quite likely to keep dipping into, perhaps over a lifetime.