THE LINDEN TREE by César Aira

THE LINDEN TREE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An ethereal ramble through the sweet haze of nostalgia by the prolific Argentinean writer Aira (The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof, 2017, etc.).

When is memory not true? If we can only live our lives in one direction, how can we ever learn from our future? These are the heady ideas Aira seals firmly in a fictional memoir that finds him sauntering through the past of a man nearly exactly like him. The unnamed narrator was born in 1949, the same year as the author, in the same provincial town of Coronel Pringles, and now, like Aira, he is living in Buenos Aires. He begins by telling the story of his parents: his father, a tall, handsome black man so nervous he might die of fright; his mother a disabled woman of European descent with a wicked sense of humor. Our narrator has inherited his father’s nervous disposition, suffering with unbending anxiety. “Death is no solution because my corpse would get up too,” he says. “What can I do? It’s beyond my control, I can’t help it.” In a history laced slightly with the history of Peronism, Aira paints a colorful picture of his past along with a couple of pointed lessons about storytelling. In the first, he declares, "If you think about it, everything is allegory. One thing signifies another, even the fact that I have ended up becoming a writer and composing this true account.” In another, he watches his father struggle with the writer’s experience. “It’s all in reverse,” says his father. “That’s what it is. The writer has to live life in reverse.” We learn the adult Aira has spent his whole life pondering this statement, trying to reconstruct his father’s reasoning, finally setting off to rediscover his old self.

A funny, sardonic, and richly emotional journey through one man’s interior experience.

Pub Date: April 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8112-1908-2
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2018




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