The Literary Conference (New Directions Pearls) (Paperback)
The Literary Conference moves from puzzle-adventure, to science-fiction global conquest, to campy B-movie plot in less than a hundred pages. Aira, a struggling translator, solves a centuries-old mystery and inherits a fortune overnight. Suddenly more than financially stable, he is able to pursue his true aim, for Aira is, in secret, a mad scientist with a recently perfected cloning machine and dreams of world domination. And yet what good are clones of himself, a man of self-professed "quite minimal" intelligence? What Aira needs is an army of super-geniuses, and no one is a more perfect candidate to clone than that titan of Latin American letters, Carlos Fuentes. As it happens, Fuentes is attending a nearby literary conference. Aira steals a cell to clone, sets up his apparatus in the mountains around town, and settles in to wait. This hilarious and sarcastic story is the backdrop for the beautiful ruminations packed throughout this book. As the mad scientist, Aira speculates on the nature of intelligence (unique to everyone, as it must be); the tragedy of lost love and our never-ending quest to reclaim it somehow, somewhere, in someone, no matter the cost; and the creation and birth of any work of art. This little gem of a book invites (and deserves) multiple reads. -- Chris Phipps— From August 2013
Cesar is a translator who's fallen on very hard times due to the global economic downturn; he is also an author, and a mad scientist hell-bent on world domination. On a visit to the beach he intuitively solves an ancient riddle, finds a pirate's treasure, and becomes a very wealthy man. Even so, Cesar's bid for world domination comes first and so he attends a literary conference to be near the man whose clone he hopes will lead an army to victory: the world-renowned Mexican author, Carlos Fuentes. A comic science fiction fantasy of the first order, The Literary Conference is the perfect vehicle for Cesar Aira's take over of literature in the 21st century.