Artforum is certainly one of César Aira’s most charming, quirky, and funny books to date. Consisting of a series of interrelated stories about his compulsion to collect Artforum magazines, this is not about art so much as it is about passionate obsession.
At first we follow our hapless collector from magazine shops to used bookstores hunting for copies of Artforum. A friend alerts him to a copy somewhere and he obsesses about actually going to get it—will the shop be open, will the copy already be sold? Finally he takes out a subscription, but then it never comes, so he hounds the mailman. There’s the day his stash of Artforums gets rained on, but only one absorbs the water. And interspersed is a wacky chapter about the mystery of the broken clothespins. “How weird.” “How crazy.”
A marvelous little collection about compulsion, obsession, and the extraordinary joy that a simple pleasure can bring.
As Aira illuminates the dead ends in his drive to collect the magazine, he offers rich insight into the appreciation of art and the desire to possess. This entertaining jaunt through the writer’s creative development satisfies with brevity and grace.
Once you’ve started reading Aira, you don’t want to stop.
His novels are eccentric clones of reality, where the lights are brighter, the picture is sharper and everything happens at the speed of thought…. You don’t know where you are or what you are looking at, but the air is full of electricity.
César Aira is an exquisite miniaturist who toys with avant-garde techniques.
—The Wall Street Journal
Aira’s cubist eye sees from every angle.
—Patti Smith, New York Times Book Review
I can think of no other writer as concerned with formal and thematic questions of pace (not of time, but of the various speeds at which we feel time pacing): not only are the individual books quick-moving, but he’s published over a hundred of them, with no signs of slowing down.