NOTES: I’m reviewing Shantytown, so I won’t write much here except to say that it’s the first Aira novella I’ve read that I’ve fully loved. There are always aspects of his short books that I admire, marvel at, and laugh over. For whatever reason, this is the first one where his poker-faced combo of surrealism, slapstick, and realism works for me all the way through. He’s endlessly intriguing and inventive; this time, he’s coherent, too. Oh, the martini: This is my standard cocktail, the only one I can make with any confidence, other than a Negroni. My recipe: 3 parts gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, a thimble’s worth of Campari, shake hard over ice until my fingertips are blue and hurting, strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with two olives.