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When you read an Aira story, you know that you are likely to get something original and, quite probably, something a bit perplexing. This is certainly the case with this novel.
We do not learn if his surname is Aira. By profession, he is a literary translator. However, he has been very much down on his luck recently.
Since , when the financial crisis hit, publishers suddenly have been finding themselves with a large stock of unsold books. He is a professional writer. We do actually learn of one of his works, a play. He is also a scientist, specifically an expert in cloning. Indeed, he is able to clone any living creature from just one cell, including human beings.
He has, in fact, cloned several humans. His reasons for doing so are very simple — he wants to rule the world. However, as he is quick to point out, he is not like the mad scientist of the Hollywood film, who gets carried away, behaves illogically and ends up causing a catastrophe.
His solution? To clone a genius and, in particular, a celebrity genius. However, celebrities are difficult to approach for ordinary people but he has found a solution — using one of his cloned wasps to get the cell he needs from the celebrity. There are a few reasons for going.
Firstly, he has been invited as they are putting on one of his plays. This play is a post-modern version of the Adam and Eve story, with Adam accused of being a serial killer. He lost touch with her as he failed to note her address, probably a Freudian slip, as he was married with children and she was young enough to be his daughter. However, he hopes to see her again. The final reason for his visit is for his genius. On the way to the conference, because of plane scheduling, he stops off in Macuto , home of the famous Hilo de Macuto Macuto Line.
The line is fictitious but the town is real and pirates certainly went there. The line is a very long rope, just above the surface of the sea then passing under the sea and then rising up to the mountain, and forming a triangle, anchored on an obelisk. It apparently gives a clue to where the pirates buried their treasure but no-one has been able to work out what it means, despite hordes of experts, scientists and computer programmes.
Why they should help him to work out the secret is not revealed, particularly as he has told us clearly that he is definitely not a genius. Indeed, apart from the self-deprecating comment that he is far from being genius, even though he uncovers the secrets of the Hilo de Macuto, most of his comments about himself conform to the standard Hollywood mad genius, with comments such as no-one could possibly be aware of or understand the mental activity going on in his brain and this comment about the swimmers.
He does send out the wasp there is quite a bit about her — she is female — and his treatment of her and he does get the cell from Fuentes. Though he does not find Amelina, he does meet Nelly, another ex, young enough to be his daughter, and he is with her, after the performance of his play which he has insisted be performed at the airport.
At this point the novel goes into full Hollywood B science fiction mode. It is all great fun — I think. Aira is clearly making fun of the Hollywood B film tradition. But is he making a serious point? Yes, he does raise the issue of artistic creation and the use of brain power but, I suspect, his main aim is just to tell a story, albeit a story that is perhaps somewhat different from the conventional stories we may be used to, though that is the case with much of his work.
If we choose to look it that way, as a story with Hollywood B film aspects, as told by as serious Argentinian, we will find that it really is a most enjoyable tale.
The Modern Novel
When you read an Aira story, you know that you are likely to get something original and, quite probably, something a bit perplexing. This is certainly the case with this novel. We do not learn if his surname is Aira. By profession, he is a literary translator. However, he has been very much down on his luck recently.
El congreso de literatura
The Literary Conference