Embarking upon a newly translated César Aira novella is often as exciting an experience as the story itself. Given that the Argentine author is so astonishingly prolific, one never really knows quite what to expect from his fiction — save, of course, for the creativity and originality so common in his writing. With this, even when a particular Aira story fails to be as captivating as the last one, it is nonetheless an enjoyable read.
The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira is the slim tale of a preternaturally gifted and beleaguered doctor constantly set upon by his colleague, detractor, and nemesis, Dr. Actyn. In the author's hometown of Coronel Pringles, Dr. Aira finds himself reluctant to share his impressive talent of late on account of the ongoing ridicule it seems to attract. Whether the good doctor can be convinced to employ his curative skills at the risk of further humiliation may well determine the course of both his professional career and his personal life.
Among the many marvels of César Aira's fiction is the way in which he deposits the reader directly into his story, free from excessive or extraneous introduction and exposition. Aira seems to trust his reader enough that this direct immersion into whatever world he has created (one that does not always conform precisely to reality) will not prove to be a hindrance. Known as he is for writing directly and without revision, Aira's novellas are thus marked by an unpolished quality that perhaps paradoxically lends his works a transcendent aesthetic, as if maybe he had indeed mapped out the entire story all along. This is not likely a strategy that would work well for most authors, but with Aira it infuses his writing with a certain and distinctive charm. Not knowing himself how a particular story may turn out as he is writing it, Aira eliminates (or at least ought to eliminate) the latent tendency in a reader to attempt a guess at where the plot may be headed. The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira, to this reader at least, is not Aira's finest tale. Yet it still somehow comes off as compulsory and delighting a work as any that have yet been translated into English. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
César Aira's newest novel in English is not about a conventional doctor. Single,in his forties, and poor, Dr. Aira is a skeptic. His personality -- his weaknesses,whims, and pet peeves -- is summed up in a series of digressions and regressions but he has a very special gift for miracles. He no longer cares about miracles,however, and has no faith in them. Perhaps he is even a little ashamed about his supernatural powers. Such is Dr. Aira, who also has to confront his arch-enemy-- chief of the Piñero Hospital, Dr. Actyn -- who is constantly trying to prove that Dr. Aira is a charlatan. Poor Dr. Aira is indeed a worker of miracles, but César Aira -- the magesterial author -- sends the very human doctor stumbling toward the biggest trap of all, in this magical book.
"César Aira's novels are the narrative equivalent of the Exquisite Corpse, that Surrealist parlor game in which players add to drawings or stories without knowledge of previous or subsequent additions. Wildly heterogeneous elements are thrown together, and the final result never fails to surprise and amuse." The Millions
"César Aira's is a fine short book, imaginative and entertaining, but finally and essentially, it's not about the size, it's about the transmogrified truths, the art of the prose and its necessity." Bookslut
"Aira's literary significance, like that of many other science fiction writers, comes from how he pushes us to question the porous line between fact and fantasy, to see it not only as malleable in history, but also blurred in the everyday. The engrossing power of his work, though, comes from how he carries out these feats: with the inexhaustible energy and pleasure of a child chasing after imaginary enemies in the park." Los Angeles Review of Books
Aira's latest concerns a reluctant but powerful doctor who finally decides to use his healing powers to help a hopeless patient.
About the Author
César Aira (b. 1949) was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina, in 1949. He has published more than seventy books of fiction and essays.The award-winning translator Katherine Silver has won a PEN Translation Fund Award, an NEA grant, and a Black Mountain Institute/Rainmakers Grant. She is now the Co-director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.