By Cesar Aira
Maxi, a middle-class, directionless ox of a young man who helps the trash pickers of Buenos Aires s shantytown, attracts the attention of a corrupt, trigger-happy policeman who will use anyone including two innocent teenage girls to break a drug ring that he believes is operating within the slum. A strange new drug, a brightly lit carousel of a slum, the kindness of strangers, gunplay... no matter how serious the subject matter, and despite Aira s fascination with urban violence and the sinister underside of Latin American politics (The Millions), Shantytown, like all of Aira s mesmerizing work, is filled with wonder and mad invention."
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.
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|Publisher||New Directions Publishing Corporation|
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