June 28, 2022

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Cesar Aira: "Dinner" - Confessions of a Mama's Boy

Cesar Aira: “Dinner” – Confessions of a Mama’s Boy

César Aira’s stories have always swirled somewhere between fantasy and reality. The daily lives of his characters are suddenly interrupted by a strange and unexpected event.

says the loser

In the novel “Das Super”, the protagonist is torn from the unification of ordinary existence. The action takes place in Pringles, a small town about 500 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires. There, in the middle of the Argentine pampa, writer Cesar Aira was born in 1949. Unlike the author, who lives as a successful writer in a café in the Argentine capital, the first-person narrator is an aging failure: socially, professionally and financially.

Because he had no income, he went back to live with his mother: “The lethargy, the realization of my failure, the outmoded relationship of a sixty-year-old man with his mother, and in the meantime, the unalterable celibate presence plunged me into this melancholy typical of dead days.”

mother gossip

The mother annoys him with her constant talk about God, the world, and the living. Day by day, the names and relatives of the well-established families and clans of this rural area are being associated with each other. On the other hand, the son does not show any interest in his fellow countrymen: “Maybe that is why I did so poorly with my work. A person who does not know the name of the neighbor whom he sees every day cannot inspire confidence. “

The undead drink endorphins

After dinner with an old friend of the protagonist, whose culinary qualities are criticized by the stern mother on the way home, the narrator, choking in self-pity, sits in front of the TV, exhausted. The local program is broadcast live from the streets of Pringles. When he falls asleep, something gruesome unfolds: when reporters arrive at the municipal cemetery, stone tomb slabs rise and generations of the dead emerge from the graves. They attack the city and its citizens.

Addicted to the endorphins they steal from the brains of the living, they wreak havoc. The horror journey ends only the moment someone recognizes the resurrected as a former citizen and addresses him by name. The spell was broken and the ghost ended.

Hilarious and self-deprecating

Cesar Aira tells this hideous fairy tale from the realm of fantasy with an smug lightness. On the other hand, it is a game of video games and horror movies. On the other hand, a metaphor for the wheel of eternal life, which lives for generations in the memory of names.

Above all, however, this strange story also lives on from the linguistic power of the Argentine writer, who composes his characters, who are always a little next to themselves, in a playful, funny and funny way. So is this lonely sad, desperate person who lacks exactly what the zombie was looking for: a dose of endorphins to combat lethargy and the lack of life.

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