Wednesday, May 30, 2012
REVIEW: Varamo, by César Aira
I have no idea why it's taken me so long to get around to telling you about this delightful gem.
Varamo, by Argentine writer César Aira, is honestly one of the funnest and most charming books I've read this or any year. Slender and unconventional, Aira tells the story of a government clerk in Panama and his dark, hilarious night of the soul. The clerk, Varamo, is, when the book opens, already a famous poet and the book recounts the story of the night just before he composed the poem that made his name.
It all starts when he's paid in counterfeit money and goes on a long ramble about the shady economics of his country. From here, anarchists, embalmed fish, gamblers, smugglers and more play a part in the poem's creation and the poem itself. The night is reconstructed from the poem itself, as well as the why and the how the poem came to be. Along the way we're treated to a crazy fun romp through the mind of an accidental poet via the observations of a later admirer. Questions abound about the reliability of literature, the writing process and the publishing world, and it's all wrapped up in this sparkling, irresistible comedy of errors.
You can tell I liked, it right? Oh my goodness, now I want to read everything by this guy!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from New Directions.