Shantytown

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One of Patti Smith’s recommendations, a dreamy tale by C├ęsar Aira about a young giant named Maxi who wanders the streets of Buenos Aires after dark to help the scavengers lug their cardboard back to the shantytown after being rummaged from the garbage. Maxi’s upper-middle-class life is all about waking up early, working out, then napping and helping the scavengers. His sister Vanessa and her friend Jessica get pulled into the story by the weird spiraling side story of the policeman following Maxi and wondering what he’s up to. The policeman suspects drugs, which he wants for himself. Maxi notices a hobo he sees sleeping every day, and it turns out to be the runaway fiance of the maid across the way, who was suspected in the killing of one of the shantytown girls, Cynthia. It all gets pretty tangled up as soon as the story veers away from just Maxi and the scavengers, who end up building him a clean bed just in case he falls asleep when done helping them, as he does at the end. Quite bizarro, but worth the journey.