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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,137 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
"On a building site of a new, luxury apartment building, visitors looked up at the strange, irregular form of the water tank that crowned the edifice, and the big parabolic dish that would supply television images to all the floors. On the edge of the dish, a sharp metallic edge on which no bird would have dared to perch, three completely naked men were sitting, with their ...more
Paperback, 139 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by New Directions (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,780)
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Dec 17, 2009 karen rated it liked it
Shelves: distant-lands
like so many things in life, this book is visually beautiful, but once you get into it, it disappoints.

the problem it suffers from is that it is way too short to try to keep redefining itself. is it a ghost story? a family story? a class story? the meditation on chilean/argentinian conflict and integration? a series of philosophical musings? the story of young girl's emotional entree into sexuality and adulthood? the problem is it tries to do it all. remember when michael jordan played baseball?
Mike Puma

Ghosts. Ghosts everywhere. Ghosts hovering in the corners of an unfinished building, on its roof, telling time, extending invitations, calling. The titular ghosts, the characters rendered ghostlike by their appearance then disappearance from the story. The ghost of a story hovering over the text—to be told, but not told. The ghost of thought, the unbuilt, the unwritten. The idea.

A haunting story that leaves the reader feeling there is more to it—the knowledge the author predicts will come throug

Apr 23, 2015 Cosimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il sorriso misterioso dei fantasmi

“Si potrebbe concepire un'arte nella quale le limitazioni della realtà fossero minime, nella quale il fatto e il non fatto si confondessero, un'arte istantaneamente reale e senza fantasmi. Forse esiste, ed è la letteratura”.

Non si può restare indifferenti a questo libro di César Aira, scrittore che, nelle parole di Bolano, sfugge a qualsiasi classificazione, collocandosi così in una complessità vicina alla grandezza di Macedonio Fernandez. Felici, disperati, ill
Jun 28, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it
A patient, dense, even-handed/sane, attentive, purposefully naturalistic short novel populated by what seems like many undercharacterized characters milling about and talking in paragraphless dialogue as naked manly ghosts hover around and sometimes piss in arcs that produce rainbows with a metallic sheen. Excellent active ending: like a methodical, casually eddying river that suddenly accelerates toward its catarata. Aira really shifts from static dense atmospherics to electrified sprints. A tr ...more
Kobe Bryant
Jun 18, 2014 Kobe Bryant rated it liked it
He seemed to really want us to understand that these ghosts had weiners
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Jun 18, 2012 Ruby Tombstone [With A Vengeance] rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a soul, and patience for dodgy analogies
I'm about to pick my life up and start again, 2,000km away in the tropics. I want to take all of Aira's books with me to be the books I look back on as symbolic of this time. There's a warm, easygoing, daydreamy sensibility to the writing that I could happily bathe in. There's a pragmatism to the characters, and a sense of irony mixed with magical realism that could only be Latin American. Reading this was a lush, atmospheric, sensual and intellectual treat.

All that aside, I've agonised over how
Jim Elkins
Jul 06, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: argentine
What is Genuine Weirdness?

The is stupendous. When I first read "Ghosts," there are only five things in English: four novels, and a chapter chosen by Roberto Bolaño in an anthology. When he is at his best (in, say, one of every ten books) Aira has no competitors in contemporary Latin American fiction.

When have you ever read -- when will you ever read again -- a ghost story in which the ghosts don't really want anything, in which some people care and others don't, in which most ghosts are naked ov
This book was weird. Halfway through, the story (about a Chilean caretaker and his family living on the top floor of a Buenos Aires apartment building that is still under construction) is interrupted by a pages-long philosophical treatise on architecture, the built, the unbuilt, Aboriginals, and their dreamtime. I found it quite hard to follow, and the fact that it was introduced with a few grammatically incorrect (or maybe just clumsily translated) sentences didn't help at all.

There are some mo
Feb 21, 2010 Jimmy rated it liked it
Everything belonged to the children. The expansion produced by the measurements and the feeling of contraction that goes with fear were overlaid by the world of childhood. The real universe is measured in millimeters, and it is gigantic. p. 4

Plot: A Chilean family lives temporarily on the roof of a half-built (and otherwise uninhabited) condominium building. The story takes place during the course of a day: New Years Eve. The family gathers for a siesta to celebrate. Meanwhile there are ghosts,
Jul 22, 2009 jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, fiction
It is New Years Eve and a Chilean family is preparing to celebrate with family and friends. The book is set almost entirely in an unfinished luxury high rise in Argentina, where the Vinas family stays during a short-term job assignment (security detail for the building). The condo is also haunted by a collection of nude male ghosts. The oldest daughter, Patri, is invited to a party that will cost her her life. Can her mother's love save her? Does she need to be saved? The story is creepy, even a ...more
Aug 30, 2008 jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
césar aira, the argentine novelist, has authored over two dozen novels, yet this is only the third to be translated into english (an episode in the life of a landscape painter & how i became a nun being the others). ghosts initially piqued my interest after i noticed it was a forthcoming release from one of the world's finest publishers, and then because i learned that the late roberto bolaño was an admirer of his work. stylistically i found aira's writing satisfying and his plot intriguing, ...more
So many ghost penises...

I think they were supposed to have Literary Significance, but that was an awful lot of them to describe in frequent detail in such a short novella.
Michael Kurt
Mar 08, 2016 Michael Kurt rated it it was amazing
"Ghosts" is a wonderful piece of magic realism. It has a hint of existentialism, but that may just be because I am always looking out for familiar existentialist themes!

The writing is very specific for this short novel. It plays with how people speak to each other by grouping dialogue more by theme and not so much by who is talking. For example, if someone is telling the main character about her children Aira will group the entire conversation (from both sides) into one long paragraph. This, to
Jerry Ghazali
Nov 05, 2014 Jerry Ghazali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
César Aira kelihatan begitu sengaja mewujudkan hantu di dalam buku ini dan aku fikir ia suatu sindiran sinis terhadap rakyat Argentina sendiri yang sengaja membutakan mata secara tidak langsung memperlakukan golongan imigran ini semirip hantu secara wujudiahnya. Di dalam buku ini adanya margin berfungsi menghadirkan dua bentuk situasi yang bersifat paralel antara rakyat tempatan dan imigran. Meletakkan hantu sebagai suatu subjek dan melihat bagaimana rupa sudut pandang dua golongan ini terhadap ...more
My initial impulse was to give Ghosts, by Cesar Aira, 4-5 stars based solely on the writing. Aira's prose is beautiful. His writing is graceful and his sentences clean. There is a 3-dimensional quality to the way he builds his story. Not cinematic, which has become overused. Ghosts is, in my opinion, more suited to a play. The descriptions and settings have physical volume. (This is the first book I've read by this author and I'm curious to find another. Because the style seems so perfectly matc ...more
Apr 09, 2009 Ben rated it really liked it
A creepy ghost story with a brief essay on cross-cultural art and architecture for its intermission. This builds a careful pace and a highly realistic tone, breaks it at will for ontological digressions, and then cuts right back to daily life like nothing happened.

Characters feel at points like real people and at others like symbolic mouthpieces for the author's world view. But said view is restless and engaging, and the blend never strays wholly to one or the other. .

Book reads a little like a
Aira's ability to sketch out the entire domestic life of a bunch of migrant workers living in an unfinished apartment complex as a masterful act of compression. He moves with charm, wit and deprecation between these people, balancing between the typical idyls of family life, grocery shopping, marriages, celebrations, children playing games, and balances it out with his usual wondrous, metaphysical musings on literally anything and everything: architecture, space, anthropology, rejection, death t ...more
Lenny Wick
Jan 16, 2015 Lenny Wick rated it really liked it
Not knowing the author's methods, it might be 15% or 20% through this novela when you think, "Hey, this guy is kind of making this up as he goes along." Or even, "This is close to rambling, like there's no plan whatsoever." Or even, "Instead of stream of conscious from a character's POV, it's like the writer is just doing stream of conscious."

And then you'll find out that's exactly what's up. And you're right.

And it seems Aira gets some ideas together and just writes forward, never reviewing, an
In effetti non l'ho finito, ma oggi ho deciso di abbandonarlo nonostante manchino poche pagine. Non so come andrà a finire, ma lo immagino o forse l'esito sarà sorprendente. Al momento non mi interessa e, peggio, mi bloccava l'approccio ad altri libri.

Posso dire che Aira racconta, con stile troppo particolareggiato e concentrato sulle descrizioni minute un po' fini a se stesse, un capodanno a Buenos Aires, di una famiglia del custode di un palazzo in costruzione che convive con alcuni fantasmi.
Aug 16, 2015 Jennyb rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: someone I hated and wanted to suffer.
Apparently, according to Roberto Bolano, "Once you have started reading Aira, you don't want to stop."

I disagree, and I do not do so respectfully. Not only did I urgently want "Ghosts" to be over, in fact I wish I had never read it.

This book sucks because Aira's writing sucks (unless you are especially obsessed with dicks, as Aira is, in which case you will find plenty of interest here). It is a book, essentially, about nothing so much as ghost penises, and how Chileans are different from Arge
Jan 27, 2014 Pascale rated it it was ok
In the end I couldn't tell what this book was really about: the first 20 pages include a fair bit of social satire, since you see a number of rich Argentinian families visiting the site of the condominium they've bought into. Therefore my first thought was that the book was going to be about the incommunicability between rich and poor, and how the poor who service the needs of the rich remain "ghosts" for the the latter. But then the buyers disappear from the narrative, and we focus exclusively ...more
Sep 28, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
When you read a novel by César Aira, you never have any idea what is going to happen next. Nothing is really foreshadowed: It just unfolds according to its own rules and takes you to surprising places.

Like a Buenos Aires luxury apartment building with a rooftop pool that is in the final stages of construction -- in the middle of a heat wave. It is New Year's Eve, and because December 31 in Argentina is like the Northern Hemisphere's June 30, it is one of the longest days of the year.

The action c
Tom Lichtenberg
Ghosts is a narrative that meanders through the consciousness of a series of characters related to the construction of a luxury condominium highrise in Buenos Aires. The building is half-finished, and we follow the everyday actions and flickering thoughts of its future occupants, then the builders and work crew, and finally the family of the night watchman, who live on the site, an occupation that may seem strange to Western readers but is quite common in most of the world. This family becomes t ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
This was one of my favorite reads of 2009; I've just read it again so it may be one of my favorites of 2010, too. With gentle, clear-eyed humor the novel(la?) recounts the events at a luxury condo building, still under construction, on the last day of the year: the owners' meetings with the architect and various interior designers, the construction workers' boozy barbeque once the half-holiday begins, and finally, after naps and trips to the grocer's, the New Year's Eve party of Raul Viñas and h ...more
May 27, 2009 christa rated it liked it
I took more pleasure from holding this book than I did from reading it. It is this compact thin book with a simple gray cover. Even just opening it is daunting: 136 pages of prose, with few paragraph breaks and very little dialogue.

"Ghosts" by Cesar Aira is the story of a Chilean family that is living on the site of what will be luxury condos in Argentina. The seven-story building also houses tons of naked male ghosts, who float from floor to floor and perch in unlikely places and spend a lot o
Dec 31, 2011 Evan rated it liked it
I actually enjoyed this book more than the 3 rating suggests. The rating I think mainly reflects a lack of smoothness in the translation that made reading a little tough going. The novel uses ghosts as an organizing metaphor for discussing the lives of squatters in an unfinished luxury apartment building in Buenos Aires. Curious to me that the book was published in 1990, shortly before the massive collapse of the Argentine economy and failure of its neo-liberal policies. Perhaps things were alre ...more
Apr 07, 2009 Dave-O rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A poetic, grand, magic realist story about a New Year's Eve celebration held by a working-class Chilean family at an Argentinian construction site. Aira is sweeping at first as he ruminates human behavior as it reflects the everyday concerns of his characters. The tiniest detail opens up a universe of thought and reflection and often some kind of truth.

The Viñas family lives and works in a haunted condo development. The ever-present nude male ghosts enter and exit as they please, though they ar
Matthew Snope
Jan 11, 2010 Matthew Snope rated it liked it
Hmmm. Not sure what to make o' this one. It reads more like a long short story or a novella. The author does a good job capturing the humanity of a Buenos Aires family, and I think a good job capturing the psyche of the matriarchs of the family, but I'd find it hard for someone to disagree that the story is slooooooooooooow, especially since the main event of the story takes place on the very last two pages of a 137 page story. However, Aira creates valid suspense leading up to those two pages, ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: btba-2010
This was my first Aira (I am now a devoted fan). Knowing how prolific Aira was caused me to approach his work with skepticism. How can someone put out so many books and maintain high quality?

I’m not sure, but I think his speed at writing is a strength, lending this novel a swift looseness and experimental quality I haven’t seen much before. In a way, it shows that Aira respects his reader. He’s having an intellectual conversation, and he trusts his readers to come along and see where it takes u
Brent Legault
Jun 08, 2011 Brent Legault rated it really liked it
The terrible (because it's hackneyed) and accurate (because it's ever so accurate) adjective unornamented froths up from somewhere when I think of how to describe Aira's steady style that rarely has anything to do with a metaphor or a simile, that seems, in fact, to scorn such "tricks." It's the kind of style that can be a little dull-edged and doe-eyed in the hands of an amateur. But Aira is no amateur and his plain speaking serves him well when he drops the mention of a ghost here or a ghost t ...more
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César Aira (born on February 23, 1949 in Coronel Pringles, Buenos Aires Province) is an Argentine writer and translator, considered by many as one of the leading exponents of Argentine contemporary literature, in spite of his limited public recognition.

He has published over fifty books of stories, novels and essays. Indeed, at least since 1993 a hallmark of his work is an almost frenetic level of
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“But the Australians, what do the Australians do? How do they structure their landscape? For a start they postulate a primal builder, whose work they presume only to interpret: the mythical animal who was active in the “dreamtime,” that is, a primal era, beyond verification, as the name indicates. A time of sleep. The visible landscape is an effect of causes that are to be found in the dreamtime. For example, the snake that dragged itself over this plain creating these undulations, etc., etc. These.. curious Aborigines make sure their eyes are closed while events take place, which allows them to see places as records of events. But what they see is a kind of dream, and they wake into a reverie, since the real story (the snake, not the hills) happened while they were asleep.” 3 likes
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