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How I Became a Nun

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Description

"A good story and first-rate social science."—New York Times Book Review. A sinisterly funny modern-day Through the Looking Glass that begins with cyanide poisoning and ends in strawberry ice cream.
The idea of the Native American living in perfect harmony with nature is one of the most cherished contemporary myths. But how truthful is this larger-than-life image? According to anthropologist Shepard Krech, the first humans in North America demonstrated all of the intelligence, self-interest, flexibility, and ability to make mistakes of human beings anywhere. As Nicholas Lemann put it in The New Yorker, "Krech is more than just a conventional-wisdom overturner; he has a serious larger point to make. . . . Concepts like ecology, waste, preservation, and even the natural (as distinct from human) world are entirely anachronistic when applied to Indians in the days before the European settlement of North America." "Offers a more complex portrait of Native American peoples, one that rejects mythologies, even those that both European and Native Americans might wish to embrace."—Washington Post "My story, the story of 'how I became a nun,' began very early in my life; I had just turned six. The beginning is marked by a vivid memory, which I can reconstruct down to the last detail. Before, there is nothing, and after, everything is an extension of the same vivid memory, continuous and unbroken, including the intervals of sleep, up to the point where I took the veil ." So starts Cesar Aira's astounding "autobiographical" novel. Intense and perfect, this invented narrative of childhood experience bristles with dramatic humor at each stage of growing up: a first ice cream, school, reading, games, friendship. The novel begins in Aira's hometown, Coronel Pringles. As self-awareness grows, the story rushes forward in a torrent of anecdotes which transform a world of uneventful happiness into something else: the anecdote becomes adventure, and adventure, fable, and then legend. Between memory and oblivion, reality and fiction, Cesar Aira's How I Became a Nun retains childhood's main treasures: the reality of fable and the delirium of invention.

A few days after his fiftieth birthday, Aira noticed the thin rim of the moon, visible despite the rising sun. When his wife explained the phenomenon to him he was shocked that for fifty years he had known nothing about "something so obvious, so visible." This epiphany led him to write How I Became a Nun. With a subtle and melancholic sense of humor he reflects on his failures, on the meaning of life and the importance of literature.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 18, 2006 – A six-year-old child sickened by eating cyanide-contaminated ice cream makes for agonies and picaresque adventures from Argentine author Aira (Adventures in the Life of a Landscape Painter), who draws on a wave of real food-supply poisonings in Latin America during the 1950s for this slim autobiographical novel. Newly moved from a Buenos Aires suburb to a rough-and-tumble neighborhood in the southern city of Rosario, the young C sar is taken for a first ice cream by his father. Despite its rancid taste, the father forces C sar to eat it, and then, in an escalating standoff, beats the vendor to death. Subsequent chapters in this elliptical, disjointed work trace C sar's hallucinatory stint in the hospital (where a rich fantasy life takes hold for good) while the father languishes in prison, and C sar's painful, delayed transition into first grade. Eventually, C sar makes friends with a rich boy, Arturito, and a game of dressup goes spectacularly awry, but the die is cast: C sar, who often cannot distinguish between dream and reality, will be a writer. Completed in 1989, Aira's near-memoir is a foreboding fable of life and art.
How I Became a Nun
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Feb 28, 2007
  • Publisher: New Directions
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 128 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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