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The Seamstress and the Wind - César Aira, Rosalie Knecht

I’ve read most of this novel twice. It made two trips to Michigan with me. I abused it. Set it down, picked it up, set it down, picked it up again. Bookmark after bookmark. Repeatedly, before starting over and plowing through it. Different from other Aira novels, seemingly, more complicated, less resolved, confusing. Like being buffeted by the wind on the Patagonian plain. So much going on.

A writer (Aira?) sits at a Parisian café and works on a novel he’s considered for some time. He’s wanted to write about a seamstress and the wind. Which he does. And which he includes. There’s a story there. But, once again, I’m not convinced the story is the story. Like my reaction to other Aira novels, the other story is about writing. And for me, that’s enough. Writing. Wonderful writing. With characteristic Aira flair. Pith. Wanderings.

Some quotes, because I liked them and in lieu of a real review:

Forgetting is simply a sensation
My parents were realistic people, enemies of fantasy. They judged everything by work, their universal standard for measuring their fellow man. Everything else hung on that criterion, which I inherited wholly and without question; I have always venerated work above all else; work is my god and my universal judge, but I neverworked, because I never need to, and my passion exempted me from working because of a bad conscience or a fear of what others might say.
…to see a mad woman going mad. It’s like seeing God.
All this may seem very surreal, but that’s not my fault. I realize it seems like an accumulation of absurd elements, in keeping with the surrealist method, a way of attaining a scene of pure invention without the work of inventing it.
***^^^***In a line that sounds like something out of Nicanor Parra:
So many years have passed that by now it must be Tuesday!
***^^^***Characterization in a nutshell, the way I like it:
He was in boxer shorts and an undershirt, hairy, unkempt, and with the face of a man who had few friends.
The only thing that seemed to be in its place was the time, although not even the late dawn in that place had a particular time: one could call it a lapse in eternity.
It’s not the volume of the voice that matters, but its placement in the story where it’s spoken; a story has corners and folds, proximities and distances…A word in time can do everything…And more than anything else (but it’s all the same) what matters is what’s said, the meaning; in the arrangement of the story there’s a silver bridge, a continuum, from voice to meaning, from the body to the soul, and the story advances by that continuum, by that bridge…

Difficult to recommend , except to a few. Something between 4 and 5 stars (for me; you’re under no obligation) rounded up, because I can. Themes of time, memory, loss, family, death, space, and writing—stitched together brilliantly. Always, with Aira, wonderful writing. Real reviews can be found through the following links: the lauditory, the cautionary, and the informative—believe them all.