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Varamo

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Description

The surprising, magnificent story of a Panamanian government employee who, one day, after a series of troubles, writes the celebrated masterwork of modern Central American poetry.
Unmistakably the work of César Aira, Varamo is about the day in the life of a hapless government employee who, after wandering around all night after being paid by the Ministry in counterfeit money, eventually writes the most celebrated masterwork of modern Central American poetry, The Song of the Virgin Boy. What is odd is that, at fifty years old, Varamo “hadn’t previously written one sole verse, nor had it ever occurred to him to write one.”

Among other things, this novella is an ironic allegory of the poet’s vocation and inspiration, the subtlety of artistic genius, and our need to give literature an historic, national, psychological, and aesthetic context. But Aira goes further still — converting the ironic allegory into a formidable parody of the expectations that all narrative texts generate — by laying out the pathos of a man who between one night and the following morning is touched by genius. Once again Aira surprises us with his unclassifiable fiction: original and enjoyable, worthy of many a thoughtful chuckle, Varamo invites the reader to become an accomplice in the author’s irresistible game.

From Publishers Weekly

May 07, 2012 – Aira, author of more than 80 published books, returns with another slim story, this one about an ineffectual government clerk who, after wandering around 1923 Col n, Panama all night, sits down and in one fell swoop writes the most famous poem in the modern Central American canon. But Aira is less concerned with the result than he is with the events immediately leading up to its composition: an attempt to embalm a fish; a conversation with two reclusive sisters who live in the neighborhood; a "regularity rally," or race in which the winner is the driver who deviates least from a predetermined speed between start and finish. The book is structured around a series of chance encounters, while also giving Aira some asides on broader concepts like the nature of perception, the promises of narrative form, and human thought. We never get to read Varamo's great poem, and the story might strike some as dilatory and unfocused, but others will relish Aira's language ("The stars were an overwhelming surprise") and the simplicity of his set pieces, one of which serves as the book's last image and involves birds gently pecking at a small red candy stuck on the branches of a bush.
Varamo
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Feb 22, 2012
  • Publisher: New Directions
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 144 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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