Tom Lichtenberg's Reviews > The Literary Conference

The Literary Conference by César Aira
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's review
Mar 09, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: latin-american-literature
Read from March 09 to 10, 2012

An interesting Goodreads person, whose reviews I enjoy, gave a pretty negative review to a different book by this author, but the things he didn't like about it were the kind of things I usually look for - whimsicality (his word), restlessness, metafiction, genre-mixing and humor. It sounded like Aira's work would be right up my alley, a lot like the kind of books I write (short, absurdist, comic-surrealist, sincerely weird), and it turned out to be just so. Cesar Aira is Argentinian, and it continues to amaze me how many of my favorite writers are from there.

From the title you would have no idea what this short novel is about; secret treasure, cloning, mad scientists and fantastic possibilities. It dwells among the unwritten rules of impossible things. There were so many passages I wanted to write down, and it was frustrating that the Kindle Android app, unlike Aldiko, has no copy and paste abilities. These were sentences and phrases that leap off the page and suddenly change everything:

'Instantly I realized that I also had no shadow and that the sun has disappeared from the sky'

The book has a pattern of lulling you into a passaqe of introspection only to make a wild jump into something completely unexpected, and the way it turned back on itself and rolled everything up was a delight. I don't want to go into details or give anything away. I found the book to be wild and charming and the narrator both impossible (in a way I love) and also quite funny.
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