Monsieur Pain By Roberto Bolano

Source – library

Translator – Chris Andrews

Roberto Bolano the Chilean novelist ,poet and thinker ,died in 2003 ,he lived in spain and Mexico as well his homeland Chile .His older books are all currently being translated into english this was published in spain in 1999 .

Monsieur Pain of the title is Pierre Pain a mesmerist and reclusive figure ,he is trying to get to help the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo who is suffering due to constant hiccups ,all this on a backdrop of paris in 1938 ,shadowy Spaniards stopping him seeing the patient .there is a sense that pain isn’t altogether with it himself a man lost and caught up in a bigger situation .I sense Bolano is playing with character here Pain is different to other narrators in his other books he isn’t a poet or a south American and at times this shows .other ways this has classic Bolano traits a dying poet ,the chaos of looming war ,like the child murders in 2666  is a catalyst for the drama .he also intwines the spanish civil war .

“did you speak with the Spaniards ?”

“Were they Spaniards ?”

“I believe so,” I said rather uncertainly .”Did you speak with them ?”

“A little .They were knocking at your door for a long time ,it must have been around nine .You are a heavy sleeper,Monsieur Pain”

Monsieur Pain talks about his first meeting with the Spaniards that cause him such trouble .

The book is short at only a 130 odd pages ,I like the ending where we find out what happened to the characters after the book it had echos of Nazi literature in the Americas .This was maybe my least favourite of the books of his I ve read but it still has his wonderful poetic prose style ,you get the feeling this is Bolano playing with his style trying out a different style ,this story is more straightforward narrative wise we don’t have the twist and turns of his other books .I describe this as his rubber soul book ,like the beatles it was mid period in his writing but seems like a writer wanting to break the mould a bit like the beatles in rubber soul ,the start of his true creative output .The translation is smooth but Andrews has done most of the Bolano books ,this is published by Picador in the uk and New directions in the Us .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like Bolano ?

March 2011


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