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Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño's life, "2666" was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa--a fictional Juárez--on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.
A tour de force, Amulet is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America. Amulet is a monologue, like Bolano's acclaimed debut in English, By Night in Chile. The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman who moved to Mexico in the 1960s, becoming the "Mother of Mexican Poetry," hanging out with the young poets in the cafés and bars of the University. She's tall, thin, and blonde, and her favorite young poet in the 1970s is none other than Arturo Belano (Bolano's fictional stand-in throughout his books). As well as her young poets, Auxilio recalls three remarkable women: the melancholic young philosopher Elena, the exiled Catalan painter Remedios Varo, and Lilian Serpas, a poet who once slept with Che Guevara. And in the course of her imaginary visit to the house of Remedios Varo, Auxilio sees an uncanny landscape, a kind of chasm. This chasm reappears in a vision at the end of the book: an army of children is marching toward it, singing as they go. The children are the idealistic young Latin Americans who came to maturity in the '70s, and the last words of the novel are: "And that song is our amulet."
Bolano's radical first novel makes its paperback debut as a New Directions Pearl. Written when he was only twenty-seven, Antwerp can be viewed as the Big Bang of Roberto Bolano's fictional universe. This novel presents the genesis of Bolano's enterprise in prose; all the elements are here, highly compressed, at the moment when his talent explodes. From this springboard--which Bolano chose to publish in 2002, twenty years after he'd written it ("and even that I can't be certain of")--as if testing out a high dive, he would plunge into the unexplored depths of the modern novel. Voices speak from a dream, from a nightmare, from passersby, from an omniscient narrator, from "Roberto Bolano." Antwerp's fractured narration in fifty-four sections moves in multiple directions and cuts to the bone.
The essays of Roberto Bolano in English at last. Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolano wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. "Taken together," as the editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, they provide "a personal cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his writings, to a kind of fragmented 'autobiography.'" Bolano's career as a nonfiction writer began in 1998, the year he became famous overnight for The Savage Detectives; he was suddenly in demand for articles and speeches, and he took to this new vocation like a duck to water. Cantankerous, irreverent, and insufferably opinionated, Bolano also could be tender (about his family and favorite places) as well as a fierce advocate for his heroes (Borges, Cortázar, Parra) and his favorite contemporaries, whose books he read assiduously and promoted generously. A demanding critic, he declares that in his "ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior": he argues for courage, and especially for bravery in the face of failure. Between Parentheses fully lives up to his own demands: "I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity at all levels."
A deathbed confession revolving around Opus Dei and Pinochet, By Night in Chile pours out the self-justifying dark memories of the Jesuit priest Father Urrutia. As through a crack in the wall, By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel--Roberto Bolano's first work available in English--recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a sort of lap dog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Junger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study "the disintegration of the churches," a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned--after the destruction of Allende--the secret, never-to-be-disclosed job of teaching Pinochet, at night, all about Marxism, so the junta generals can know their enemy. Soon, searingly, his memories go from bad to worse. Heart-stopping and hypnotic, By Night in Chile marks the American debut of an astonishing writer.
An astounding novel from Argentina that is a meditation on the beautiful and the grotesque in nature, the art of landscape painting, and one experience in a man's life that became a lightning rod for inspiration. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter is the story of a moment in the life of the German artist Johan Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858). Greatly admired as a master landscape painter, he was advised by Alexander von Humboldt to travel West from Europe to record the spectacular landscapes of Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Rugendas did in fact become one of the best of the nineteenth-century European painters to venture into Latin America. However this is not a biography of Rugendas. This work of fiction weaves an almost surreal history around the secret objective behind Rugendas' trips to America: to visit Argentina in order to achieve in art the "physiognomic totality" of von Humboldt's scientific vision of the whole. Rugendas is convinced that only in the mysterious vastness of the immense plains will he find true inspiration. A brief and dramatic visit to Mendosa gives him the chance to fulfill his dream. From there he travels straight out onto the pampas, praying for that impossible moment, which would come only at an immense pricean almost monstrously exorbitant price that would ultimately challenge his drawing and force him to create a new way of making art. A strange episode that he could not avoid absorbing savagely into his own body interrupts the trip and irreversibly and explosively marks him for life.
These five astonishing stories, along with two compelling essays, show Bolano as a magician, pulling bloodthirsty rabbits out of his hat. The stories in The Insufferable Gaucho -- unpredictable and daring, highly controlled yet somehow haywire -- might concern a stalwart rat police detective investigating terrible rodent crimes, or an elusive plagiarist, or an elderly Argentine lawyer giving up city life for an improbable return to the familye state on the Pampas, now gone to wrack and ruin. These five astonishing stories, along with two compelling essays, show Bolano as a magician, pulling bloodthirsty rabbits out of his hat.
The first short-story collection in English by the acclaimed Chilean author Roberto Bolano. Winner of a 2005 PEN Translation Fund Award. "The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolano once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate unresolved efforts. They are characters living in the margins, often coming to pieces, and sometimes, as in a nightmare, in constant flight from something horrid. In the short story "Silva the Eye," Bolano writes in the opening sentence: "It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as The Eye, always tried to escape violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but the violence, the real violence, can't be escaped, at least not by us, born in Latin America in the 1950s, those of us who were around 20 years old when Salvador Allende died." Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin America and Europe, and peopled by Bolano's beloved "failed generation," the stories of Last Evenings on Earth have appeared in The New Yorker and Grand Street.
A Little Lumpen Novelita percolates with a young writer's fierce ambitions and intensely tender love of women. "Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime": so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome in A Little Lumpen Novelita. Orphaned overnight as a teenager--"our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us"--she drops out of school and gets a crappy job. At night, she is plagued by a terrible brightness, and soon she drifts into bad company. Her little brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns she can fall even lower... Electric and tense with foreboding, with its jagged, propulsive short chapters beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, A Little Lumpen Novelita--one of the last novels Roberto Bolano published--delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of taking control of one's fate.
Roberto Bolano takes us into an odd, dark, but comic underworld in this strangely tender noir novel. A Bolano classic. The Peruvian poet César Vallejo is in the hospital, afflicted with an undiagnosed illness and unable to stop hiccuping. His wife calls on an acquaintance of her friend Madame Reynaud: the mesmerist Pierre Pain. Pain, a timid bachelor, is in love with the widow Reynaud and agrees to help. But two mysterious Spanish men follow him and bribe him not to treat Vallejo. Ravaged by guilt and anxiety, Pain does not intend to abandon his new patient, but his access to the hospital is barred and Madame Reynaud mysteriously leaves Paris. Another practitioner of the occult sciences enters the story (working for Generalissimo Franco, using his mesmeric expertise to interrogate prisoners) -- as do Mme. Curie, tarot cards, an assassination, and nightmares. Meanwhile, a haunted Monsieur Pain wanders the crepuscular, rainy streets of Paris. . . .
A "biographical dictionary" gathering 30 brief accounts of poets, novelists and editors (all fictional) who espouse fascist or extremely right-wing political views. Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolano's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition. Nazi Literature in the Americas is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works, plus an epilogue ("for Monsters"), which includes even briefer biographies of persons mentioned in passing. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds. Ernesto Pérez Masón, for example, in the sample included here, is an imaginary member of the real Orígenes group in Cuba, and his farcical clashes with José Lezama Lima recall stories about the spats between Lezama Lima and Virgilio Pinera, as recounted in Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Mea Cuba. The origins of the imaginary writers are diverse. Authors from twelve different countries are included. The countries with the most representatives are Argentina (8) and the USA (7).
A stunning collection of short stories - mostly dealing with the sex trade - by the late Chilean master and author of The Savage Detectives. The Return contains thirteen unforgettable stories that seem to tell what Bolano called "the secret story," "the one we'll never know." Bent on returning to haunt you, Bolano's tales might concern the unexpected fate of a beautiful ex-girlfriend, or soccer, witchcraft, or a dream of meeting the poet Enrique Lihn:they always surprise. Consider the title story: a young partygoer collapses in a Parisian disco and dies on the dance floor. Just as his soul is departing his body,it realizes strange happenings are afoot around his now dead body -- and what follows next defies the imagination (except Bolano's own).
Listed as a "2009 Indie Next List Poetry Top Ten" book by the American Booksellers Association: Roberto Bolano as he saw himself, in his own first calling as a poet. Roberto Bolano (1953-2003) has caught on like a house on fire, and The Romantic Dogs, a bilingual collection of forty-four poems, offers American readers their first chance to encounter this literary phenomenon as a poet: his own first and strongest literary persona. These poems, wide-ranging in forms and length, have appeared in magazines such as Harper's, Threepenny Review, The Believer, Boston Review, Soft Targets, Tin House, The Nation, Circumference, A Public Space, and Conduit. Bolano's poetic voice is like no other's: "At that time, I'd reached the age of twenty/and I was crazy. /I'd lost a country/but won a dream./Long as I had that dream/nothing else mattered...."
New Year's Eve, 1975: Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their quest: to track down the obscure, vanished poet Cesárea Tinajero. A violent showdown in the Sonora desert turns search to flight; twenty years later Belano and Lima are still on the run. "The explosive first long work by the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, Los Angeles Times), The Savage Detectives follows Belano and Lima through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross in Central America, Europe, Israel, and West Africa. This chorus includes the muses of visceral realism, the beautiful Font sisters; their father, an architect interned in a Mexico City asylum; a sensitive young follower of Octavio Paz; a foul-mouthed American graduate student; a French girl with a taste for the Marquis de Sade; the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky; a Chilean stowaway with a mystical gift for numbers; the anorexic heiress to a Mexican underwear empire; an Argentinian photojournalist in Angola; and assorted hangers-on, detractors, critics, lovers, employers, vagabonds, real-life literary figures, and random acquaintances. A polymathic descendant of Borges and Pynchon, Roberto Bolaño traces the hidden connection between literature and violence in a world where national boundaries are fluid and death lurks in the shadow of the avant-garde. The Savage Detectives is a dazzling original, the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century. Roberto Bolaño was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1953. He grew up in Chile and Mexico City, where he was a founder of the Infra-realist Poetry Movement. His first full-length novel, The Savage Detectives, received the Herralde Prize and the Rómulo Gallegos Prize when it appeared in 1998. Roberto Bolaño died in Blanes, Spain, at the age of fifty. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year; A Washington Post Top 10 Book of the Year; A New York Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year; A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year; A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year; A Kirkus Review Top 10 Book of the Year. In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolaño tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is, in the words of El País, The kind of novel Borges would have written ... An original and magnificent book: funny, moving, important." "When I began reading The Savage Detectives last month, I had already devoured the first three of Bolaño's books to arrive in English two short novels, By Night in Chile and Distant Star, and the story collection Last Evenings on Earth and become a devoted fan. But I was still unprepared for The Savage Detectives, the work that made his reputation when it first appeared in 1998, and for which he was awarded the Rómulo Gallegos Prize. Available now in a seamless translation by Natasha Wimmer, this novel is an utterly unique achievement a modern epic rich in character and event, suffused in every sentence with Bolaño's unsettling mix of precision and mystery. It's a lens through which the strange becomes ordinary and the ordinary is often very strange.
A collection that gathers everything Bolano was working on before his untimely death. A North American journalist in Paris is woken at 4 a.m. by a mysterious caller with urgent information. For V. S. Naipaul the prevalence of sodomy in Argentina is a symptom of the nation's political ills. Daniela de Montecristo (familiar to readers of Nazi Literature in the Americas and 2666) recounts the loss of her virginity. Arturo Belano returns to Mexico City and meets the last disciples of Ulises Lima, who play in a band called The Asshole of Morelos. Belano's son Gerónimo disappears in Berlin during the Days of Chaos in 2005. Memories of a return to the native land. Argentine writers as gangsters. Zombie schlock as allegory... The various pieces in the posthumous Secret of Evil extend the intricate, single web that is the work of Roberto Bolano.
A phenomenally unusual three-way murder mystery. With a murder at its heart, Roberto Bolano's The Skating Rink is, among other things, a crime novel. Murder seems to have exerted a fascination for the endlessly talented Bolano, who in his last interview, according to The Observer, "declared, in all apparent seriousness, that what he would most like to have been was a homicide detective." Set in the seaside town of Z, north of Barcelona, The Skating Rink is told in short, suspenseful chapters by three male narrators, and revolves around a beautiful figure skating champion, Nuria Martí. A ruined mansion, knife-wielding women, political corruption, sex, and jealousy all appear in this atmospheric chronicle of a single summer season in a seaside town, with its vacationers, businessmen, immigrants, bureaucrats, social workers, and drifters.
"Poetry is braver than anyone," Roberto Bolan~o believed, and the proof is here in Tres, his most inventive and bracing poetry collection. Roberto Bolan~o's Tres is a showcase of the author's willingness to freely cross genres, with poems in prose, stories in verse, and flashes of writing that can hardly be categorized. As the title implies, the collection is composed of three sections. "Prose from Autumn in Gerona," a cinematic series of prose poems, slowly reveals a subtle and emotional tale of unrequited love by presenting each scene, shattering it, and piecing it all back together, over and over again. The second part, "The Neochileans," is a sort of On the Road in verse, which narrates the travels of a young Chilean band on tour in the far reaches of their country. Finally, the collection ends with a series of short poems that take us on "A Stroll Through Literature" and remind us of Bolan~o's masterful ability to walk the line between the comically serious and the seriously comical.
A deluxe edition of Bolano's complete poetry Perhaps surprisingly to some of his fiction fans, Roberto Bolano touted poetry as the superior art form, able to approach an infinity in which "you become infinitely small without disappearing." When asked, "What makes you believe you're a better poet than a novelist?" Bolano replied, "The poetry makes me blush less." The sum of his life's work in his preferred medium, The Unknown University is a showcase of Bolano's gift for freely crossing genres, with poems written in prose, stories in verse, and flashes of writing that can hardly be categorized. "Poetry," he believed, "is braver than anyone."
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