Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ghosts

A partially constructed luxury apartment building in Buenos Aires. The Chilean caretaker and his family. The coming new year. Ghosts . Cesar Aira’s brilliant little novel is the kind of book where you start underlining beautiful, enlightening, funny, philosophically intriguing sentences and end up with nearly the whole book underlined. Packed into this little novel are sophisticated discussions of the relationship between buildings, metaphors, and language; the differences between Argentinians and Chileans; shopping for a New Year's Eve feast; the experience of the sudden thought in the mind of the unthinking person; the use of ghosts as wine racks; class relations between the building builders and the building owners; and, the challenge and need of finding a “real man”. Yet Ghosts doesn’t feel crowded. The prose moves at the pace of a slightly-more-energetic-than-languid hot summer day daydream. The book itself is perfectly sized for sticking in your back pocket and going for a long walk. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon than wandering around Mt. Auburn Cemetery wading in and out of Ghosts.

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