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.