Sunday, May 12, 2013

César Aira - Varamo

I am now trying an experiment very frequent among modern authors; which is to write upon nothing; when the subject is utterly exhausted, to let the pen still move on; by some called the ghost of wit, delighting to walk after the death of its body. - Jonathan Swift

Tonight: discussion of Hunger by Knut Hamsun ensues in earnest at 6 PM at Books Inc Opera Plaza.  New spot, new time!

Next month: Varamo by César Aira.  Never read it and don't know jack about it, but it's short, probably bitter and/or sweet, and very recent.  Thanks to my colleague Greg from SFPL for the recommendation!  (Meeting = June 9th at 6 PM)

Unmistakably the work of Cesar Aira, Varamo is about the day in the life of a hapless government employee who, after wandering around all night after being paid by the Ministry in counterfeit money, eventually writes the most celebrated masterwork of modern Central American poetry, The Song of the Virgin Boy. What is odd is that, at fifty years old, Varamo hadn t previously written one sole verse, nor had it ever occurred to him to write one. Among other things, this novella is an ironic allegory of the poet s vocation and inspiration, the subtlety of artistic genius, and our need to give literature an historic, national, psychological, and aesthetic context. But Aira goes further still converting the ironic allegory into a formidable parody of the expectations that all narrative texts generate by laying out the pathos of a man who between one night and the following morning is touched by genius. Once again Aira surprises us with his unclassifiable fiction: original and enjoyable, worthy of many a thoughtful chuckle, Varamo invites the reader to become an accomplice in the author s irresistible game.