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Ghosts

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  814 ratings  ·  140 reviews
The most unsettling and stunning of Aira's short novels published so far by New Directions.

Ghosts is about a construction worker's family squatting on a building site. They all see large and handsome ghosts around their quarters, but the teenage daughter is the most curious. Her questions about them become more and more heartfelt until the story reaches a critical, chillin
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Published (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,967)
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karen
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?
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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

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Lee
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
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
Jun 18, 2012 Ruby Tombstone [Uncensored or Else] rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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aidan w-m
he knocks down all the pins, sure, but he also sets them up like three feet away.
Kobe Bryant
He seemed to really want us to understand that these ghosts had weiners
Jimmy
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,
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jess
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
jeremy
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
Jerry Ghazali
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
Tara
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
Ben
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
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Jeremy
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
Tomás
Marco esta edición en inglés porque no encuentro en goodreads la edición de Random House Mondadori y no se como agregarla. Pero la leí en español. (Actualizo a esta edición)

Primera novela que leo de César Aira y no me defraudó pero tampoco es que me haya volado la cabeza. Sin lugar a dudas Aira escribe muy bien pero por momentos la novela, incluso siendo cortita, se me hizo larga y densa. Por momentos es magnífica, por momentos decae y se siente una especie de vacío en la lectura...Me gustó en g
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Jim
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
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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
Greg
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
christa
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
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Evan
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
Dave-O
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
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Matthew Snope
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
Trevor
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
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Brent Legault
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
Jim Elkins
Stupendous, like everything of his I've read. As far as I can tell there are only five things in English: four novels, and a chapter chosen by Roberto Bola�o in an anthology. Aira has no competitors in contemporary Latin American fiction.[return][return]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 overweight men covered with white construction du ...more
Barbara
Of the three Aira novels I've read, I like this one the least. There is some beautiful writing here, and Aira does a great job exploring the ways in which a particular space reverberates with the specter of what was once there ( or not there), what exists there now, and what will exist ( or not) in the future, where time is the force that binds these visions together. The same can be said for people - what they were, what they are, and what they will be in the future. The ghosts are a nice artis ...more
Andy
It was interesting, quite intriguing in fact, but that intrigue was almost entirely generated by the sporadic appearances of "ghosts" amidst a story detailing the events of a single day in the lives a construction worker's family living on the site of an unfinished condominium high-rise. The fairly long stretches of narrative between those apppearances of the "ghosts" I found to be rather dull, especially when Aira digresses into the realms of some very abstruse philosophical speculations. But t ...more
Jill
This book is an unexpected little gem. It focuses on a new condo's work foreman's family in Argentina. All of the action takes place over a single New Year's Eve, and in the space of that one day, and in 139 tiny pages, the author beautifully renders a family on the crux of change. The characters stand in stark contrast to the strange ghosts that haunt the unfinished building, which only the family can see. The ghosts serve to remind us of what's "real" and what's not in our worlds, and how that ...more
Ryan
In Argentina, male ghosts haunt a newly built condominium. It is New Year's Eve. The ghosts are preparing a party while upstairs the living (the caretaker's family and their relatives) are celebrating and feasting. There's a silent co-existence between them. But for the very first time, the ghosts are trying to communicate something to the living. What happened in the end will make you scratch your head.

The insidious power of this book convinced me that I need to collect all of Aira's fiction in
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Yoy
César Aira, een Argentijnse schrijver die geboren werd op 23 februari 1949, heeft al een zeventigtal boeken op zijn naam staan. Vaak schrijft hij twee tot vier boeken per jaar. Hij staat bekend om zijn onnavolgbare, originele stijl en is in Argentinië incontournable. Toch is in het Nederlands alleen ‘De nachtelijke invallen van ambtenaar Varamo’ (De Geus) eerder vertaald. Gelukkig is nu ook ‘Schimmen’ vertaald, dankzij onder meer een werkbeurs voor de vertaler en een bijdrage aan de uitgever van ...more
Tony
GHOSTS. (1990). Cesar Aira. **.
A boy scout troop and their scout leader were sitting around a campfire at night. It was story time. The scout leader started off: “Tonight I’ll tell you about the building of a high-rise condominium in South America. It was New Year’s Eve day. All of the owners of the condos had come to look at the progress of the building. The contractors were way behind schedule. There were lots of people from different countries and their countless kids. Suddenly, they discover
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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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More about César Aira...
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter How I Became a Nun The Literary Conference Varamo The Seamstress and the Wind

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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.” 2 likes
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