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 ?

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 15:07:11

    It’s a pity you didn’t like this much. It happens sometimes with early output of a writers oeuvre. I appreciate experimental writings and I believe it is through that that we can move forward.

    Another addition to my growing wishlist; the author I mean. Would try his other books.


  2. Rise
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:41:02

    This was actually early Bolano, published in a different title (“The Elephant Track”) in 1982. I also liked how it prefigures Nazi Literature at the end. The highly charged atmosphere would make for an excellent noir film, I think.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 12:19:35

      Thanks rise it said later on wiki ,it was definately a sign to later works ,it would be a great film and possibly the most able to be filmed of his books I ve read ,all the best stu


  3. Bina
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 19:26:16

    Another intriguing Bolano title, now I only have to stop being a chicken and try some of his works. Any recommendation on where to start?


  4. parrish
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 21:10:17

    One of the Bolano’s I’ve yet to read, but will, as even his earlier stuff (The skating rink) has merit , even if it just signposts his style & how it will develope.. Have just finished Romantic Dogs & all his obsession, subjects etc feature within the poetry.


  5. JoV
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 21:10:34

    There is a short book by Bolano?! Great. This looks like my sort of book, I’ll decide after 2666.


  6. Heather
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 01:11:16

    I haven’t tried this author yet. I am curious and look forward to him.


  7. Violet
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 06:36:27

    I’ve only read Savage Detectives and 2666. I liked Savage Detectives a lot more. Nearly lost the will to live at one point in 2666. 🙂


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 23, 2011 @ 11:28:27

      I liked savage more think over time it may become the more noted book think 2666 need more editing from Bolano is too bulky and drifts at times ,all the best stu


  8. petekarnas
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 14:11:16

    Still need to read something by Bolano as I keep hearing great things about him. I have 2666 queued up on my e-reader, will try to get to it soon.


  9. Becky (Page Turners)
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 00:28:33

    I haven’t but I love his books. I went to a book festival and saw Chris talk about the process of translating Bolano’s works – it was fascinating


  10. Leela Soma( glasgowlee on twitter)
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 13:43:46

    This was my first book of Bolano’s and I’m sorry to say I did not enjoy it . As you say his prose and style is good but the story was never engaging enough especially as the stream of consciousness scenes (for example at the cinema)just did not grip me, felt it was distracting. Maybe I should stick to the linear simpler styles of writing.


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March 2011


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