An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

Cesar Aira     Recommended by Alan    

Pick up any of Aira’s books, they’re all interesting, but Landscape Painter is a good place to start…

Books, novels, novellas and stories are unique among the arts for being able to hold a reader in a narrative. Some authors use this particular art to tilt the reader’s perspective, to hold narrative to a different perspective, to expose the reader to a philosophy long enough for it to be experientially burned on the reader’s mind. Kafka, Beckett, Woolf, Bolano – all play with this form.

Cesar Aira is an Argentine writer who is a master of this style. He is prolific – publishing at least a couple of novellas every year, varying in genre from historical, to dada, to futuristic. They are published sometimes as books, or novellas, and sometimes as chapbooks, or stapled photocopies.

And Cesar Aira is unsettling good. He writes in a form he calls “flight forward” (fuga hacia adelante) with little pre-planning or post-revision.

I can’t tell you too much about An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter as telling any of the plot will deprive readers of the joy of the story unfolding. Suffice to say, I read it in one sitting and felt, the rest of the day, as though I had experienced pleasure – and the world looked a little different than before.

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