“A day in the life of a 1920’s Panamanian who is paid in counterfeit money, panics, and takes refuge in his hobby, self-taught taxidermy, specifically a fish-playing-the-piano project. On his nightly walk he discovers that the voices he regularly hears in his head aren’t imagined, but are two neighborhood ladies transmitting encrypted messages to golf club smugglers. He’s given a copy of codes, which he takes with him to a café, where three pirate book publishers convince him to write an instant book on embalming. He doesn’t really know anything about embalming, so he randomly transcribes the things in his pocket, including the code book, and inadvertently creates the masterpiece of modern Central American poetry, ‘The Song of the Virgin Child.’ Cesar Aira’s writing is often described as hypnotic or surreal or dadaist or metaphysical or avant-garde. That could be over-thinking it a little. He’s very funny and charming and entertaining.”—indie publishers’ sales rep George Carroll. Buy Varamo The Elliott Bay Book Company.