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By César Aira

Day-by-day conversations in open air cafes with cultured pals will help make truth a bit extra actual. regrettably, despite the fact that, in the course of one such dialog, one guy spots a gold Rolex watch on a television cleaning soap opera's goatherd. This likely small absurdity units off alarms: unusual sensations of deception, misery, and incipient insanity. the 2 men's uneasiness quickly turns into a nightmare because the television experience advances with a real-life plot -- related to a mutant pressure of killer algae -- to take over the area! The Conversations, a truth inside a fiction inside a parallel truth, is hilariously humorous and unusually touching.

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That this impressed me so deeply at the time showed how out of touch I was, and now that I thought of it, I realized it had been quite a while since I'd had any contact with the new generation more lasting than the present brief encounter. The next day, having left the house in such a rush that my wife teased me about it, I reached the reception desk earlier than the time I had vaguely suggested, and when I took a look around, there was no sign of Marie among the young mothers who had brought their children for swimming or dance lessons.

This natural change in him interested me, but I also noticed a shift in the woman's attitude; in the begin­ ning she took the lead, assuring the man that she was on the pill before they had sex, calming him with her experience, but after the second time, she yielded to him, allowing herself to be the 35 gentle, malleable one. This, I fel t, showed a certain kindness, and I liked her for it. And yet though the recording was technically well made, I couldn't make a connection between the woman's voice on the tape and Marie.

She had slept with him several times, she said, but when she stopped answering his calls, he started threat­ ening her. Putting his technical skill to use, the man had rigged up a hidden microphone (in the course of the relationship she had gone to his apartment--only once, though she now admitted it had been a mistake) and recorded them in bed. I f Marie insisted on cutting off the relationship unilaterally, he would send the tape to the dean of the college where she worked, and he had plenty of copies ready to circulate among the parents of her students.

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