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The Linden Tree—The Lime Tree (2018) is set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in South America, from 1949 under the Peronist Regime, to about 1959.

The narrator is nearing seventy, and writes about his childhood as a ten-year-old boy. He begins with a description of the unique Monster Lime Tree—a linden tree—in the plaza of his home city, Coronel Pringles in Flores, now a neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. His father, an electrician, gathered its flowers to make tea to cure his chronic insomnia. 

His father is black and his mother is white European with a physical deformity and thick-lens glasses: “the differences must have been noticeable.” These differences, the narrator says, were “intensified by the enigma” of his father’s beauty and the shortness of his mother. But “he’d had the courage to marry—for love.”

The narrator writes of social change. “The problem for my father was that after 1955 the march of History began, and he was left behind”—it was the end of Juan Peron’s presidency. Part of this social change in his childhood was his “morbid fascination with madness, particularly the madness that is latent in normality, one step away from the most secure and comforting daily routine, as opposed to the sort that is confined to mental asylums.” 

This fascination resulted from his frequent visits to the accountant’s office opposite his house, where he would hear ‘crazy monologues’ about the accelerating pace of change. And it was “via the radio that politics entered our home.” The family’s dreams of rising from poverty to middle class were shattered.

This is a novella—short and delightful. It is Cesar Aira’s fictional memoir—it is not about him on the outside, but it is really about him on the inside. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

MARTINA NICOLLS – MartinaNicollsWebsite

Martinasblogs – Publications – Facebook – Paris Website – Animal Website – Flower Website

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