Mike Puma's Reviews > The Seamstress and the Wind

The Seamstress and the Wind by César Aira
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Jul 17, 13

it was amazing
bookshelves: argentine-author, new-directions-publishing, 2013
Recommended for: the few
Read in July, 2013

I’ve read most of this novel twice. It made two trips to Michigan with me. I abused it. Set it down, picked it up, set it down, picked it up again. Bookmark after bookmark. Repeatedly, before starting over and plowing through it. Different from other Aira novels, seemingly, more complicated, less resolved, confusing. Like being buffeted by the wind on the Patagonian plain. So much going on.

A writer (Aira?) sits at a Parisian café and works on a novel he’s considered for some time. He’s wanted to write about a seamstress and the wind. Which he does. And which he includes. There’s a story there. But, once again, I’m not convinced the story is the story. Like my reaction to other Aira novels, the other story is about writing. And for me, that’s enough. Writing. Wonderful writing. With characteristic Aira flair. Pith. Wanderings.

Some quotes, because I liked them and in lieu of a real review:

Forgetting is simply a sensation
***^^^***
My parents were realistic people, enemies of fantasy. They judged everything by work, their universal standard for measuring their fellow man. Everything else hung on that criterion, which I inherited wholly and without question; I have always venerated work above all else; work is my god and my universal judge, but I neverworked, because I never need to, and my passion exempted me from working because of a bad conscience or a fear of what others might say.
***^^^***
…to see a mad woman going mad. It’s like seeing God.
***^^^***
All this may seem very surreal, but that’s not my fault. I realize it seems like an accumulation of absurd elements, in keeping with the surrealist method, a way of attaining a scene of pure invention without the work of inventing it.
***^^^***In a line that sounds like something out of Nicanor Parra:
So many years have passed that by now it must be Tuesday!
***^^^***Characterization in a nutshell, the way I like it:
He was in boxer shorts and an undershirt, hairy, unkempt, and with the face of a man who had few friends.
***^^^***
The only thing that seemed to be in its place was the time, although not even the late dawn in that place had a particular time: one could call it a lapse in eternity.
***^^^***Lastly:
It’s not the volume of the voice that matters, but its placement in the story where it’s spoken; a story has corners and folds, proximities and distances…A word in time can do everything…And more than anything else (but it’s all the same) what matters is what’s said, the meaning; in the arrangement of the story there’s a silver bridge, a continuum, from voice to meaning, from the body to the soul, and the story advances by that continuum, by that bridge…

Difficult to recommend , except to a few. Something between 4 and 5 stars (for me; you’re under no obligation) rounded up, because I can. Themes of time, memory, loss, family, death, space, and writing—stitched together brilliantly. Always, with Aira, wonderful writing. Real reviews can be found through the following links: the lauditory, the cautionary, and the informative—believe them all.

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Reading Progress

07/17/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Aira is shortlisted for the 2014 Neustadt Prize.


Mike Puma Alas, he didn't make the cut.


message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen P The book is well worth reading for your last quote alone. He's a difficult writer to capture; reading, reviewing, thinking about, but provides a sense of something important experienced. Along with his great writing his novels do seem to turn to the act of writing. I need to get back to him. I've wandered to far away. Thanks for the look-out signal Mike.


Mike Puma Richard wrote: "Yes he did."

Geez. I read the wrong list.


Mike Puma Stephen wrote: "The book is well worth reading for your last quote alone. He's a difficult writer to capture; reading, reviewing, thinking about, but provides a sense of something important experienced. Along with..."

I have to agree. I'm looking forward to the two additional Aira titles coming this year.


message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen P Mike wrote: "Stephen wrote: "The book is well worth reading for your last quote alone. He's a difficult writer to capture; reading, reviewing, thinking about, but provides a sense of something important experie..."

Thanks for telling me, I'll be looking for them.


message 8: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala Mike, this is a real review, intriguing, concise, perfect.


message 9: by Andrew (new) - added it

Andrew Schirmer I can only ape what you have written elsewhere: another Mike Puma review, another step closer to the poorhouse &c &c...


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Fionnuala wrote: "Mike, this is a real review, intriguing, concise, perfect."

Thanks, Fionnuala, I had underlined so many quotes that it was a something of a challenge to decide which not to include.


message 11: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Andrew wrote: "I can only ape what you have written elsewhere: another Mike Puma review, another step closer to the poorhouse &c &c..."

If I'm not mistaken, that 'poorhouse' comment was made w/r/t a spenx review--so, thank you, that's good company to be in. This one is haunting, but I didn't want to say anything which could be regarded as spoilerish.


message 12: by Ema (new) - added it

Ema I was on the lookout for a new review from you! I was wondering why you have been so silent lately. I hope everything is ok!
As for the novel, I fear that, right now, I might be amongst the many that won't enjoy it. You make it sound so exclusive that I feel I need to 'grow' a bit more in order to appreciate it. I want to try the Landscape Painter, though.


message 13: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma I've been in a slump lately--maybe it's the summer--I haven't felt much like reading or writing, and I really need to snap out of it.

This isn't the one I'd recommend to those reading Aira for the first time, and Landscape Painter would be a much better first choice. It might just be the case that Aira is an acquired taste, after which, he can do nothing wrong.

Thanks for watching out for me.


message 14: by Ema (new) - added it

Ema Oh well, then delight yourself with the summer feeling while it lasts! :)
I see you're becoming an Aira expert, too! After I manage to read Landscape Painter, I'll ask for your advice on which of his novels to read next.


message 15: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Any time.


message 16: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich I've been excited for this review! Sounds stellar (so glad you sent me down the Aira path), those quotes are gold. But Michigan? Why Michigan? Ain't nobody cool up in Michigan! Oh wait...
The story is the story. Love that stuff. And this review. Looks like you're twisting my arm all the way to the add to cart....oooo owww...okay.


message 17: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich I like how that got turned into a hyperlink. Im afraid to click it.


message 18: by Mala (new)

Mala @Mike: I'm all for the Quotes– the reviewer shdn't come between the writer & the readers. Let the text do the talking!
And Mike I noticed your ( reviewing) silence too but summer time is lazy time. Enjoy!


message 19: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma s.penkevich wrote: "I've been excited for this review! Sounds stellar (so glad you sent me down the Aira path), those quotes are gold. But Michigan? Why Michigan? Ain't nobody cool up in Michigan! Oh wait...
The story..."


As a matter of fact, sir, I have a great reason to visit Michigan--there's someone there who's come to mean quite a lot to me--she's a little cutie and entirely cool.

Now for my next storyless suggestion--I'm not making it yet--but I expect to soon: The Cardboard House--a little hard to describe.


message 20: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith Wonderful review, as always. I can relate to your slump, though my own points to here. It has been brtual here lately.

August is devoted to Marias and Walser, maybe Aira in the fall?


message 21: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Can't go wrong with Marias.


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