jeremy's Reviews > Varamo

Varamo by César Aira
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

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bookshelves: translation, fiction
Read in February, 2012

of the dozens of books césar aira has published in his native spanish (sometimes a few in a single year), varamo is only the seventh to be translated into english. though comprised of his trademark improvisational style and seemingly unrelated thematic elements, varamo did not seem to coalesce as well as some of his previous works. it is indeed a good book, but perhaps one not as reflective of his obvious capacity for storytelling proficiency. part of the charm of reading aira is never knowing what to expect, and thus his style inevitably leads to a greater range of possible plots and outcomes. varamo includes a number of seemingly disparate constituents, including counterfeited currency, amateur embalming, smugglers, and a political automobile race; all this in a novella about a panamanian civil servant who composes a classic of latin american poetry after having never written a single line of verse previously. césar aira is clearly a gifted and imaginative writer, and though varamo may not be his best work, he remains one of the more unique authors at work in latin america today.
like all adults, he was afraid of accidents. what dismayed him most about them was the temporal contrast between the instant, or fraction of an instant, in which an accident could occur, and the long months or years required to repair its effects, if indeed they were reparable and didn't last a lifetime. he had developed a superstitious fear of the instant, that tiny hole through which all the time available to human beings must pass.

translated by chris andrews, his fourth aira rendering to date.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Ryan I just finished this and find it to be an average book. Not my favorite Aira. I do hope they get to publish some of the longer works as I'm beginning to think that Aira's method cannot always be sustained by novella-length pieces.

jeremy it was not my favorite aira either. with all the dozens of books he has written, the breadth of his creativity must surely exceed what we've seen in the ones translated thus far. i admire his process, but sometimes it seems to result in the occasional misfire.

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