Fiction by César Aira
Translated by Chris Andrews
Soon enough you realize that you are no longer twenty years old, because right away you are no longer young … and by the way, while you were thinking about other things, the world was also changing. And then, just as suddenly, you are fifty years old. Aira had anticipated his fiftieth—a time when he would not so much recall years past as look forward to what lies ahead—and yet that birthday came and went without much ado. It was only months later, while having a somewhat banal conversation with his wife about the phases of the moon, that he realized how little he really knows about his life. This book consists of a series of short chapters in which Aira searches for and meditates on the events that were significant to him during his first fifty years. Between anecdotes, and memories, the author ponders the origins of his personal truths, and wonders about literature meant as much for the writer as for the reader, about ignorance, knowledge, and death. Finally, Birthday is a little sad, in a serene, crystal-clear kind of way, which makes it even more irresistible.