I’m reading Cesar Aira’s The Literary Conference. It’s hilarious and I love it. The first chapter involves the solving of an ancient pirate riddle and finding secret treasure. The next few chapters describe the narrator’s dream of World Domination, in the best Mad Scientist sense, and his plan to do so (which involves cloning the Mexican author Carlos Fuentes). It is just glorious, glorious stuff. I wish I could be reading it in Spanish, but I can’t figure out how to order them via Interlibrary Loan (the regular library system hardly ever has the books I want). I need to fiddle with that tomorrow, since the quality of my Spanish is sinking to despicable levels, and there’s only so much that talking to the parents at the elementary school where I’m working now can do for me.
I read this interesting interview with Aira a while back, and the main part that has stuck with me was his description of his writing style: “”writing by picking up with the last line written the day before, planting something implausible in the work, and then continuing to write until he has made the implausible believable.” It sounds so fun and liberating, which makes sense, since those are the qualities I enjoy the most in his work. His books just make me LAUGH out loud, and I’m a hard person to make laugh! I can’t quite explain what it is about his work I find so hystiercal. For example, the most recent part that made me LOL hard and long was when the narrator talks about the effects of his divorce: “I began to develop rather grotesque symptons; the worst was a contraction of my left leg, which began to behave as if it were eight inches shoter than my right; as faras I know, my two legs are exactly the same length, but for months I was going around with quite a conspicuous limp. This, on top of everything else, led me to take drugs (the only time in my life I’ve ever done so. I became addicted to proxidine and so severely abused it that I would have died of an overdose if I had not finally found a way out.” (51)
Proxidine! LOL! I just love the fact that the narrator is a self-described Mad Scientist hell-bent on world domination. That the way in which he steals a cell from Carlos Fuentes’ body is by sending a genetically engineered wasp he’s designed solely for the purpose of plucking it from Fuentes’ body. The wasp inspires several interesting and surprisingly moving passages: “I needed somebody to get me a cell belonging to Carlos Fuentes, and for that reason, and no other, I created a being within which converged millions of years and many more millions of fine points of selection, adaptation, and evolution… to carry out a unique service and thereby complete its purpose; a throw-away creature, as if the miracle that is man had been created one afternoon just so he could walk over to the door to look outside and see if it were raining, and once this task had been accomplished, he would be annihilated.” (39-40) I love Aira’s combination of Phillip K Dick-ish insanity with Borgeisan philosophical musings… that is really the best description I can think of for him.
Anyway, I’m about halfway through and the narrator is only just about to arrive at the titular literary conference, so we’ll see what insane shinanignas happen next.