The author of at least eighty novels, most of them no more than 96 pages long, César Aira has been called “the author who can’t be stopped” by the New York Review of Books. The Musical Brain & Other Stories is the first collection of his stories to appear in English and comprises twenty tales about oddballs, freaks, and crazies. Aira, with his fuga hacia adelante or “flight forward” into the unknown, gives us imponderables to ponder and bizarre and seemingly out-of-context plot lines to consider, as well as thoughtful and passionate takes on everyday reality. The title story, published in the New Yorker, is the centerpiece of this exhilarating collection of characters, places, and ideas—the crème de la crème of Aira’s many short stories.
The Argentine writer so niftily makes metaphysical Frisbees of the stories in this collection they seem to take flight by the power of whimsy alone.
— The Boston Globe
The stories here do have a life of their own, and it is a life offering much surprise, much humor, much brilliance of observation and invention, but little in the way of even momentary consolation. They summon up a genie who can do everything but fulfill our wishes.
— Geoffrey O'Brien, NYRB
Astonishing—turns Don Quixote into Picasso.
Everything in Aira has that Mad Scientist feel to it.
— The Millions
César Aira is an exquisite miniaturist who toys with avant-garde techniques.
— The Wall Street Journal
Outlandish B-movie fantasies are all part of the game. His best-known works are nonsensically hysterical.
— Marcela Valdes, NPR Books
I get so absorbed by an Aira novel that upon finishing I don’t remember anything. It’s like having a complex cinematic dream that dissipates upon awakening.