Whose Buenos Aires Is This Anyway?
Today's New York Times has an article with slideshow by Maxine Swann about her life in Buenos Aires. She moved there about 10 years ago. The article concentrates on apartments and neighborhoods. It is, after all, in the Home and Garden section. It doesn't mention a single Argentinian writer or poet. I wish it did. If she were writing about my Buenos Aires, she would have to.
At any rate, I don't think of her City at all as Ricardo Piglia's Buenos Aires. Or the Buenos Aires in his novel, The Absent City. Or Borges's. Or Roberto Arlt's. Or the Buenos Aires in Arlt's novel, Mad Toy. And no, this isn't my Buenos Aires either.
In my Buenos Aires in addition to the Obelisk (above) and 9 de Julio, there are many references to and an acknowledgment of the literary canon, the writers. The neighborhoods are remembered by the books they appear in. The streets also. The cafes. The street corners. And there's an aggressive pride in this. Of course, you're supposed to know this stuff. How could you not? You might ask how I, who have read about but never been in these writers' Buenos Aireses, could be excessively proud of these references. You might as well ask whether these writers have been in my Buenos Aires, or if they're just part of its ornamentation, the backdrop for its events.