César Aira: The Famous Magician

A writer is confronted with a magician who makes an offer of magical powers in exchange for something horrendous — to abandon Literature forever. But having already accomplished much as a writer and a reader, he finds a certain appeal to exploring a new life.

“Perhaps something new was beginning for me, after a lifetime spent among books: a superior kind of reading, the reading of the real world.”

“Still, giving up writing and reading… would leave me without any consolation. It would be like giving up on life itself. On the other hand, I couldn’t help imagining all I could do with the powers he was offering me. Giving up Literature was a terrible wrench; moments before it had seemed unthinkable, and I still couldn’t envisage it. And yet, what was Literature, what had it been for me if not the protean power of transformation…”

He is caught in a quandary that is not too different from the balancing act we readers perform on a daily basis. And isn’t Literature in itself a magical power?

But I’ll stop before I reveal too much of this delightfully quirky little book. Here is a bite-sized literary confection with a hint of caprice, sprinkled with a dash of art, and best relished within the span of a cup of coffee. Expect a philosophical aftertaste!

“Readers seek out fellow readers as much as they seek out books, though fellow readers are, alas, more difficult to find. So we hold onto them for life.”

Isn’t this lovely passage from the book the very reason why I am here writing this and why you are here reading this?