One of the perks of being a bookseller is talking to my co-workers about what they are reading. We vary widely with our tastes and I get to hear about great books that I may never have come across myself. On my vacation I took a few books from a co-worker and found myself reading two short works by César Aira. An Argentinean writer, Aira has published more than eighty novels. A favorite of Roberto Bolaño, (a favorite of mine), he was quoted saying, “Once you’ve starting reading Aira, you don’t want to stop.” I read How I Became a Nun and Varamo in two days and while they may not have the mass appeal of Stieg Larsson, Aira certainly knows how to weave a tale full of autobiographical and mystical detail. Here are the two that I tried, and if you need more reassurance, the latest issue of the New Yorker agrees that Aira is one not to miss.
With his hands still in his pocket he looked up, and the light washed over him, like a holy bath. Light was what made the world work; the world was Colon; Colon was the square. Light dissolved the worries created by its dark twin, thought. Why think? Why build a prison of problems when the solution was as simple as opening one’s eyes? One the one hand light dissolved and on the other it condensed: its action had produced those colored statues known as plants, people, animals, clouds and the earth.