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The Seamstress and the Wind (1994)

av César Aira

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1194174,645 (3.62)8
The Seamstress and the Wind is a deliciously laugh-out-loud-funny novel. A seamstress who is sewing a wedding dress for the pregnant local art teacher fears that her son, while playing in a big semitruck, has been accidentally kidnapped and driven off to Patagonia. Completely unhinged, she calls a local taxi to follow the semi in hot pursuit. When her husband finds out what's happened, he takes off after wife and child. They race not only to the end of the world, but to adventures in desire -- where the wild Southern wind falls in love with the seamstress, and a monster child takes up with the truck driver. Interspersed are Aira's musings about memory and childhood, and his hometown of Coronel Pringles, with a compelling view of the hard lot of this working-class town, situated not far from Buenos Aires.… (mer)

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Visar 4 av 4
Typically enjoyable-but-brief novel by César Aira in which the author's style wins out over the story itself.

Aira's constant reflections and interruption of the narrative provides humor, but it also creates an even more complex kind of realism. The story's subject matter is typically banal—semi-rural Argentinian boys playing about their mutual neighbor's semi-trailer and suddenly someone goes missing. This only takes you so far. Aira adds to this story amusingly magical twists, as well as his own additional framing of the story inside his own present-day life. He makes as though he writes the entire story while in a cafe in Paris, and even ties in a dilemma regarding his bill to the telling of the story.

The book is terrific, though I think the relationship between the central story and the narrator's framing are not as well-done as those in his other novels. For instance, Aira the author is privy to all kinds of details regarding the interactions between the seamstress, the semi-truck driver, and the spinster, despite the fact that Aira the boy was present for none of these events. In his other first-person novels, Aira plays more of a central role throughout the story. Here he more or less vanishes after the rest of the characters light off for Patagonia. ( )
  jantz | Jan 1, 2017 |
This was my fourth [a:César Aira|88379|César Aira|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1361001372p2/88379.jpg]. I've read [b:How I Became a Nun|152808|How I Became a Nun|César Aira|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348515715s/152808.jpg|147498], [b:Ghosts|3392293|Ghosts|César Aira|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348683259s/3392293.jpg|3432165], and [b:Varamo|341664|Varamo|César Aira|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1372916740s/341664.jpg|332032], and this was my least favorite. I'm not saying it's not worth reading, but if this had been the first I had encountered, I would have been much less receptive to Aira's "fuga hacia adelante" approach, which sounds messy when you try to describe it. Basically it seems as though Aira throws a few disparate elements bouncing around his head into the air, mixing high and low, theoretical and material, and from the way they fall, he creates a plot around them. Or vice versa. And via his skill, imagination, intelligence, and that x-factor, a coherent text emerges. It's a surreal coherence, but a coherence nonetheless. And this one just didn't click! But when you write that many books, you're sure to have a few misfires. I'm just curious about how this one in particular made it over into English, and into publication at New Directions before some of his other titles.
  oh_that_zoe | May 21, 2015 |
In this short novel, Argentinian writer Cesar Aira writes a fabular love story that detours from playful metatext to absurd plot. When a local boy goes missing, his mother tracks a trucker on a long-haul mission to the nethermost regions of Argentina where she discovers that the wind has fallen in love with her. Meanwhile, her husband and the pregnant art teacher whose wedding dress she is sewing join in the chase. The cast of characters includes: a seamstress, a pregnant bride, a gambler, a trucker, an unexpected life, and the improbable lover, Señor Ventarrón, the wind.

The pursuit through Patagonia becomes a lesson on novelistic improvisation and derring-do, as Aira turns unplanned pregnancies and prehistoric armadillos into the contrivances of fiction. His antics have a crackpot genius that seems quintessentially Latin American. He continually counterpoints the grand narratives of the human condition – be they love, monstrosity, or powerlessness – with the details (preposterous, intimate, and eccentric) of individual lives.

The resulting escapade is both outlandish and lovely, its dream of the comic novel a tender, hilarious travelogue that turns storytelling into flight and sleight-of-hand, and love into a faltering, improbable home. As much as the wedding dress takes to the sky, to be buffeted by Ventarrón, it remains somehow totemic, while beneath it in the Argentinian wild, each character whirls in hectic drama. The mystery of power is that it unexpectedly shifts: a relentlessness that vanishes, an infant that overpowers its origin, an addiction that thwarts and then propels. And of course, in fiction these forces are not natural, but contrived and opportunistic.

Cesar Aira appears in this novel as both the puppeteer working the threads of his creation in a Parisian café, and the childhood friend of the vanished boy, Omar. In truth, the boy was never missing and so this friendship turns out to be merely a pretext for writing. ( )
  cocoafiend | Nov 6, 2012 |
I think César Aira is one of the best living writers. There are about six books out in English now: "How I Became A Nun" (with one of the best opening scenes in all contemporary literature); "Ghosts" (a wonderful story about naked middle-aged male ghosts who hang around a building site, annoying people); "An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter" (based on a real episode, in which an explorer was hit by lightning and dragged from his horse); "The Literary Conference," "The Hare," and I think one more...

At his best Aira is spectacular: tremendously inventive, unpredictable, reflexive. This book is an older one, written in 1991, and it's the only one of his I haven't enjoyed. It's much more along the lines of Latin American magic realism of the 1970s and 1980s, with the addition of a postmodern authorial voice. At the beginning, Aira says he doesn't want to follow the dictates of memory, and there's a wonderful quotation along those lines that he attributes to Boulez:

"Memory makes things felt, heard, and seen rise into the light, a bit the way a bolus of grass rises again in a ruminant. It may be chewed, but it is neither digested nor transformed." (p. 9)

The problem is that the opposite of this dependence on memory is, in this book, a continuous whimsical magic-realist inventiveness. There are many reasons to dislike magic realism, and they have been well rehearsed. In the context the two most pertinent are (1) that magic realism is the symptom of a need to continuously produce wonder, and that itself reveals a more interesting problem: that the author feels reality needs a kind of frantic augmentation; and (2) that magic realism has, by principle, no rules, and that freedom also removes a constraint on the reader's attention. If anything can happen, the rules of the writing are relaxed to the point where it is no longer possible for the author to make a misstep. Where anything is permissible, there is also no failure, and no tension in watching the author negotiate his invented world.

The other five or six books of Aira's (more comments are on the LibraryThing site) are tremendous. I'll certainly be watching to see what is translated next: but I probably won't read anything written before the late 90's. ( )
  JimElkins | Jan 21, 2012 |
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César Airaprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Knecht, RosalieÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The Seamstress and the Wind is a deliciously laugh-out-loud-funny novel. A seamstress who is sewing a wedding dress for the pregnant local art teacher fears that her son, while playing in a big semitruck, has been accidentally kidnapped and driven off to Patagonia. Completely unhinged, she calls a local taxi to follow the semi in hot pursuit. When her husband finds out what's happened, he takes off after wife and child. They race not only to the end of the world, but to adventures in desire -- where the wild Southern wind falls in love with the seamstress, and a monster child takes up with the truck driver. Interspersed are Aira's musings about memory and childhood, and his hometown of Coronel Pringles, with a compelling view of the hard lot of this working-class town, situated not far from Buenos Aires.

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