Figurines are from Denmark. This song has a very distinctive Mercury Rev feel (late-period Mercury Rev) with high pitched vocals and delicate intertwining melodies.
The verses are done on simple piano and the bridge has some nice harmonies. This is a cool alt rock song that stands up to repeated listens.
[READ: March 28, 2012] “Into the Unforeseen”
The timing of this article is quite amazing. Having really enjoyed Galchen’s short story, I decided to see what else she had written. It’s not a lot, but she has written three things published in Harper’s–two essays and one short story. This first essay is all about César Aira. I didn’t even know who Aira was when it came out in 2011, but now, I get to read it again having just finished another of his novels. (The essay concludes with information about Varamo, a novel that was just recently translated into English which I picked up at the library, yesterday).
This essay is about the week that Galchen spent with Aira in and around Aira’s home (but not his birth town of Coronel Pringles which he kind of jokingly forbids her from seeing. Galchen loves Aira’s writing (and has a kind of crush on him, although they’d never met before). She doesn’t say in this article but she was a Spanish language major, so she has clearly been reading his books in Spanish.
She lets us know that the day before she met Aira, her ten-year relationship ended (she hints at the reason but is quite discrete). She brings this up because of an emotional moment later in the article. And that’s what I loved about this article–it was personal and really invited the reader in to experience this meeting with her.
The article opens with her description of situations in just a few dozen of Aira’s 60-some published books. Then she talks about Aira’s writing process–he doesn’t rewrite. He works in the morning and whatever he finishes that day, he doesn’t edit or change. He just continues from there on the next day, adding whatever new experiences he can to the story. Somehow this works (one assumes that the writing he does each day–in pen, longhand–must be meticulously thought out) and it explains his massive output. I also have to wonder how much work his translators do to make his stories make sense–are they working harder than he did?
Galchen and Aira meet in Rosario (a location mentioned in An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter) and she opens this scene with an amusing sequence in which Aira’s mother apparently claims that Aira is the worst writer in Argentina–and that she is the best. She has written one book (which it takes him the entire week to remember the name of –El Pensamiento), although he doesn’t comment on her work or her claim. Galchen is clearly afraid of offending Aria, which leads to some forced conversations, but ones that reveal a lot about him without her having to ask specific interview-type questions.
Then she summarizes the plot of How I Became a Nun (and picks up things that I missed). She indicates that the gender change of the main character ”unapologetically shifts part way into the novel” implying (to me anyhow) that it may have been accidental–but having read the book, I d not believe that. And I assume she doesn’t either. She also summarizes Varamo.
Galchen asks where he gets so many (very very different) ideas for his stories. He says he has hundreds in a box and offers to give her some. At one point he tells her an idea which he says is not very good. That night she puzzles over the story and comes up with a conclusion to the premise. But when she tells him, he reveals that she took the story in a direction utterly different from what he imagined (and he apologizes for the misunderstanding). It’s fascinating that with the premise, you could create two entirely different stories.
This article was utterly charming. It goes a long way to explaining what is so enjoyable about Aira’s work (and why it is so hard to explain what is enjoyable about it). It also reveals both Aira and Galchen to be interesting if enigmatic people, both of whom I look forward to reading more from.
For ease of searching, I include: Cesar Aira, Viva Pinata