The Seamstress and the Wind review – from Paris to Patagonia

As fun as it is mystifying, this surreal and intriguing novella by César Aira takes the form of a gossipy odyssey

A monstrous child, a giant truck and a floating wedding dress come together in Patagonia in this surreal and intriguing novella, translated by Rosalie Knecht. It starts with a writer in Paris thinking about memory, truth and how to write The Seamstress and the Wind. But just as you fear this will be one of those exercises in playfulness that’s no fun at all, strange sparks begin to fly. A boy has gone missing after playing in a trailer, so his seamstress mother hails a taxi to follow the truck south down Argentina’s spine. Her no-good husband sets off in pursuit, followed by a mysterious woman in a tiny blue car. Brutal collisions and strange events disrupt this unlikely parade as it negotiates the great grey plateau of Patagonia, where the moon pulls atoms from the earth, the wind makes promises and poker is played for entire mountains. The resulting drama is as fun as it is mystifying, but the novel is also an enjoyable tale of two places: gossipy Coronel Pringles, where the odyssey begins, and Patagonia, a land so vast it defies comprehension. The publisher plans to release five of the prolific Aira’s works – it’s a heartening prospect.

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Contributor

James Smart

The GuardianTramp

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