From Publishers Weekly
Part travelogue, part meditation on art, this brief, increasingly riveting fictionalized history by Argentinean author Aira (How I Became a Nun) reinvents German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas's ill-fated 1837 South American journey. Rugendas, a genre painter influenced by naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, first recorded the "exotic" landscape of the New World in the early 1820s and had early success with the illustrated Picturesque Voyage Through Brazil (1827). Aira dwells on Rugendas's disastrous second journey to South America, when the artist had hoped to penetrate the immense plains of Argentina. Accompanied by younger German painter Robert Krause, Rugenda traveled through the Chilean Cordillera, over the Andes and to the border town of Mendoza, before heading east across the Argentinean pampas towards Buenos Aires. But they encounter a vast stretch of the plains devastated by locusts, and with their horses starving, Rugendas heads out by himself in search of verdant land. He is twice hit by lightning, then dragged by his terrified horse. Disfigured and dependent on morphine thereafter to quell paralyzing nervous seizures, Rugendas redoubles his dedication to his art. Aira's documentary achieves a skillful synthesis of fact and imagination.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“May it herald many more such unsettling and elegant parables to come.” (Mark Doty - Los Angeles Times
“I’m about to reread César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter
once again. The book’s mere 87 pages are so multifaceted and transporting and I get so absorbed that upon finishing I don’t remember anything. Like having a complex cinematic dream that dissipates upon awakening.” (Patti Smith - New York Times Book Review
“Aira oversteps the bounds of realism, forcing the world to live up to his imagination.” (Benjamin Lytal - New York Sun