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César Aira: Shantytown

César Aira is a mad scientist. His short books are seemingly pieced together from segments of other novels, creating a Frankenstein of a story. Somehow he sends a bolt of lightning through it, and it haltingly comes to life. I’ve been a bit disappointed in some of the recent Aira…

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Roberto Bolaño: The Secret of Evil

I know that there is some criticism toward publishing anything we can find written by Roberto Bolaño.  The most recent, The Secret of Evil (El secreto del mal, 2007; tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, with Natasha Wimmer, 2012) is actually composed of some stories and sketches (many obviously incomplete) found on…

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César Aira: Varamo

I love it when we get something by César Aira newly translated into English.  There simply is no way to predict what it is going to be about (often even when you’re three-quarters of the way through the book), but you’re guaranteed a strange ride through beautifully strangeness.  My first venture with Aira was…

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César Aira: “The Musical Brain”

Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers).  César Aira’s “The Musical Brain” (tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews) was originally published in the December 5, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. This is fantastic!  I never…

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Roberto Bolaño: Monsieur Pain

For those of you who have been interested in but wary of Roberto Bolaño, you might find a friendly meeting place (more friendly than, say, 2666, which was my meeting place) in Monsieur Pain (1999; tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, 2010).  This is one of Bolaño’s earliest works — that’s not to say…

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Roberto Bolaño: Distant Star

It’s been a few months since I read anything by Bolaño, but every time I finish a book my first urge is to pick up another of his.  The only reason I don’t is for the sake of variety and to make sure I can have some Bolaño left for…

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Roberto Bolaño: The Skating Rink

After experiencing a wonderful connection with Bolaño in By Night in Chile I was excited to receive a copy of his next book to be translated into English: The Skating Rink (La Pista de Hielo, 1993; tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, 2009).  And now that I’ve finished that, though…

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Roberto Bolaño: By Night in Chile

I’m getting on better with Roberto Bolaño now than I was before.  By that I mean that I am converted.  After finding 2666 a brilliantly written mess and Nazi Literature in the Americas a horrific human mess (again, brilliantly written), I wanted to go back and read the first of his…

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Interview with Chris Andrews

Like many, I have come to admire and appreciate the work of Australian Chris Andrews, whose translations have been key in bringing to English readers the works of Roberto Bolaño and César Aira.  His exceptional renderings are so strong in style and voice that they never feel like works in…

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César Aira: How I Became a Nun

I’m rocketing through César Aira’s books available in English (others reviewed here and here).  Which is not hard since they are incredibly short, and there are only three readily available (The Hare, published in the U.S.  in 1997 is cheapest used on Amazon at a mere $363, so I don’t count…

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Roberto Bolaño: Nazi Literature in the Americas

Over the Christmas holiday last year I read Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.  I wrote a review that balances on the negative side because it just didn’t come together for me—at all.  The over-the-top praise surely didn’t help me going in to the book.  That said, taking 2666 by its pieces, I loved it.  The writing was…

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César Aira: An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

If you were paying attention when I wrote about Aira’s Ghosts a little while ago, you noticed that New Directions offered to send me the two other Aira books they have published.  There was no hesitation and very little effort to tone down my excitement when I gratefully accepted.  Ghostsgave a taste of something…

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César Aira: Ghosts

César Aira seems to be in the air lately.  Over the past few years three of his books have been translated into English by Chris Andrews and published by New Directions: An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (tr. 2006), How I Became a Nun (tr. 2007), and…