Seeing red by Lina Meruane

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Seeing red by Lina Meruane

Chilean fiction

Original title –Sangre en el ojo

Translator – Megan Mcdowell

Source – review copy

This is another book that deep Vellum brought out but I never got to the e-book, so I was pleased when I was sent a copy from Atlantic books.It shows the talent that is coming from Latin America also the talented female writers. This ticks two boxes one from Spanish lit month and the other for  Woman translation month. As I say there seems to be a number of great Latin American writers and like most of them Lina Meruane is based in New York where she got a degree in Latin American literature, which she now teaches. She has written four novels this is her first to be translated into English.

But no , it was no fire i was seeing, it was blood spilling outminside my eye. The most shockingly beautiful blood I have ever seen.The most outrageous.The most terrifying.The blood gushed, but only I could see it.With absolute clarityI watched as it thickened, I saw rhe pressure rise, I watched as I got dizzy, I saw my stomach turn, saw that I was starting to retch, and even s.I didn’t straighten up or move an inch, didn’t even try to breathe while I watched the show. Because that was the last thing I would see, that night though that eye: a deep, black blood

As the Haemorrage is happening described by Lucina.

This is a novel that is partly based on the writers own experience. Like Lucina in the book Lina has also experienced what it is like to lose her sight. The book follows Lucina a young Chilean writer, who has come to New York like many writers from Latin America, the early part follows her when knows she has a condition that means some point, she may lose her sight. So when it happens it is still a shock to her. But also to her boyfriend who becomes her eyes Ignacio becomes her eyes as we see her become  familiar with using her other senses more as the world one familiar become very alien to her and even her most personal relationship has to readjust to make way for her blindness, but also the change it has made for Lucina as a person. Someone more connected to her emotions than she was before with more feeling and in a strange way seeing the world more without sight than she ever did with sight.

Ignacio is still in the airport, a disconcerted frown on his face. Ignacio standing under the glowing screen. Bepatures.Arrivals.His glasses glint over his now-empty eyes.Its an aged and ruined Ignacio. An Ignacio cracked like an old statue on the verge of collapse. His shirt with sleeves rolled up and his linen pants utterly tattered and his dull bronze shoes fixed to the floor. Centuroieshave passed I think, and there he remains covered by ash or dust of my depature,clutching the anxious kiss I blew to him.

A man broken in a way by caring and seeing her slipping away in a way .

Now blindness has been tackled at various times in Literature, Saramago Blindness where everyone goes blind, but it maybe captures the anger we feel her in Meruane words. The Day of the triffids shows the sheer panic one can feel when one lose the sight. But this is also a story of how a person adapts completely. Having worked many years ago with Older blind people, I get the stoic nature of Lucina, but also the underlying anger at times. A wonderfully observed book of snatch dreams and new turns in a life that has been part of the writer’s own story shows the current power of female writers from Latin America or as Bolano said of her one of the one or two greats on the new generation of  Chilean writers who promise to have it all. Great words about her.

 

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The secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano

 

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The secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title – El Secreto del Mal

Translators Natasha Wimmer and Chris Andrews

Source – Library book

Well, Spanish lit month wouldn’t be a spanish lit month over here at winstonsdad without a Bolano book on it. So far I have reviewed eight of his books on the blog. I still have to add 2666 and Savage detectives at some point. I read both pre blogging days. I may do them next year on the 15th anniversary of his death. Well like most great writers that die early there is bits left over especially nowadays with computers this is the bits and piece from Bolano’s hard drive some connected to earlier pieces and others essays and pieces on Lit.

Many years ago, before V.S. Naipaul – a writer whom I hold in high regard, by the way – won the Nobel prize, I tried to write a story about him , with the title ” Scholars of Sodom” The story begain in Beunos Aires, where Naipaul had gone to write the long article on Eva Peron that was later included in a book published in Spain by Seix barral in 1983 . In the story, Naipaul arrived in Beunos Aires , I think it was his second visit to the ciry and took a cab that is where I got stuck

The tale of this story in the sory scholars of Sodom

This is a collection of small stories a couple feature Belano the character from 266 as he returns a successful writer to Mexico he meets a band and then his son in 2005 in Berlin. Then a number of non-fiction pieces one on VS Naipaul a sort narrative about the story itself and his visit to Argentina after the Junta has fallen and meeting Borges. that links nicely to a story called Labyrinth about a group of friends reminded me of Borges in the style of its retelling. Then a character from Nazi Literature in the Americas Daniela, tells how she lost her virginity to a 25 to 45 ranch hand at the age of 13, she didn’t consider it rape (but may explain why she is in the Later book. Then a great piece about the Lit of Argentina from Martin Fierro through Borges, Bioy Ceasres, Soriano, Arlt, Piglia and even the later two connection with Gombrowicz in a piece entitled The vagaries of the literature of doom.

Belano , our dear Arturo Belano , returns to Mexico city. More than twenty years have passed since the last time he was there. The plane is flying over the city, and he wakes with a start. The uneasiness he has felt throughout the trip intensifies. At the airport in Mexico city he has to catch a connecting flight to Guadalajara, for the book fair, to which he’s been inviited Belano is now a fairly well-known author and is ofteninvited to international events’ although he doesn’t travel much. This is his first trip to mexico in more than twenty years .Last year he had two invitations and he had to pulled out at the last minute.

He has finally got back to mexico after missing a number of chances to return what will happen when he returns !

I am a huge Bolano fan but even I wonder if this was a good collection to put out. But that isn’t my decision and like all great artist, this isn’t the first collection to be put out. I think how much stuff came out after Jeff Buckley died another artist I am a huge fan of and like his piece the secret of evil shows the lesser piece some of these are maybe ideas for bigger pieces rather than short stories. It also shows how he didn’t like to let go of certain characters like Artur Belano which had appeared in his two main books, also in Amulet(still to review here I do have a copy at hand ) and in the collections The return and the last evening on earth. Belano is like Frank Bascombe or Rabbit an alter ego of the writer.

A little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano

 

 

A little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title – Una Novelita Lumpen

Translator – Natasha Wimmer

Source – Personnel copy

It has been a while since I reviewed Bolano he is one of the most review writers on the blog I have reviewed seven of his works on the blog as I work through all short books before I go back and reread savage detectives and 2666 both of which I read before the blog. I still have the return and Amulet on my tbr pile to read. This particular book was part of a project to get ten latin american writers at the turn or the millennium to write a story set in Rome. This book has also been made into a film.

One morning the Bolognan and the Libyan left. I spent an hour, more or less, going through the drawers to see whether they’d stolen anything. Nothing was missing.

Even I couldn’t deny that their conduct had been impeccable for the five days they’d stayed with us. They always washed the dishes, three times they hade dinner themselves, and they didn’t try anything with mr , which was important. I could sense the interest in their eyess, in the way they moved, and the way they talked to me, but I noted their self control and found it flattering

Bianca is an innocent in many ways as this passages shows .

This is a typical work of Bolano in his novella writing as it is a patchwork of a book . The story follows a orphaned brother and sister in Rome . Bianca the sister narrators the story, it see them trying to cope with the loss of their parents as they have to start work. But then her brother appears with two criminals just known as the Libiyan and Bolognan ,  they start to work out a crime that the four can do . This involves Bianca become close to a man Maciste a blind former film star , but in a weird twist she develops a weird S&M relationship with the man she is meant to be finding where this former star keeps his money.

Maciste’s eyes- unlike my brother’s eyes and his friends eyes- weren’t innocent. He almost always wore sunglasses. But sometimes he would take them off and look at me or pretend to look at me. Then I would shiver and close my eyes and hug him or try to hug him, which was alway hard considering his size. One day the Bolognan said to me

“That bastard is messing with your head.Find the safe ansd let’s get this over with”

I was reminded of that look frank had in the film Blue velvet as he is watch by Jeffrey

This is one of the stories that has no crime but is a crime story the crime isn’t part of the story it is rather like what Tarantino did in his classic film reservoir dogs where the crime is never show just the the meeting before and the aftermath this is like that we see the four discussing the crime , Bianca taking a lowly and dangerous position as a cleaner come sex toy for the blond old man this remind me somewhat of David Lynch;’s character Frank Booth another man with illness  and unhealthy way with woman. This isn’t a masterpiece but another little piece of the mosaic that is  Roberto Bolano the writer. glimpse at what made him the great writer that he was in this work .Also his love of good and evil the paths people take in there lives which has been at the centre of most of his works and how poverty sometimes leads to the wrong paths in life just to survive whether in Rome or the streets of Mexico city say .

Have you a favourite short Bolano work ?

My documents by Alejandro Zambra

My Documents by ALejandro Zambra

Chilean fiction

Original title – Mis documentos

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – review copy

The flash of a distant camera
reconnecting
thoughts and actions,
Fragments of our missing dreams,
Pieces from here and there
fall in place along the line,
Disappearing between you and me.

Life is changing everywhere I go,
New things and old both disappear.
If life is a photograph,
Fading in the mirror….

A Neil young lyric Distant camera from silver and gold album i felt the line fragments of our missing dreams suited this collection do well .

I have read Alejandro Zambra before his two Novella’s Bonsai and ways of going home  the ,later I did review here . I remember at the time I read it thinking , he would be a great short story writer so when this collection from Fitzcarraldo editions arrived I was excited to see if my feelings about him were right .Alejandro Zambra currently teaches at Santiago Diego Portales university he has won a number of awards including the best Chilean Novel award and was part of the 2010 Granta best Spanish writer collection (time flies that was a great collection ).

He was twenty-three years old, it was the first computer he’d owned and he didn’t know exactly what he wanted it for, considering he barely knew how to turn it on and open the word processor. But it was necessary to have a computer, everyone said so, even his mother . Who’d promised to help him with payments .

I was a bit old when I got my first lapton but had same feeling as what is this for in my life as our narrator did .

My documents could easily be called a novel in the way it is a collection of memories strung together , but the narrator isn’t defined as the same one, so it’s not a novel but a wonderful collection of gems memories drawn like the miniatures of old .Rather like in the 18th century people used carry a miniature of their loved ones eye just the eye and like that this collection it is a detached collection of stories of lives and memories . A remembrance of a first computer , from putting a poem on it , then listening to music , editing pictures and music finally to a dark side of the owning of a pc .Then we follow a smoker as he writers a diary of his giving up smoking (The irony is I just read Nicotine another non fiction work from FItzcarraldo also about stopping smoking ) .Then Condor Rojas is mentioned in one of the stories and rather like the stories themselves an echo of one of my own memories was remembered as like the writer himself , I remember the story of Roberto Rojas when this Chilean keeper pretend to be injured from a firework a match was abandoned and then he was found to have injured himself .

He’d been there with us, in front of the tv . When Condor Rojas faked his injury in Brazil and the Chilean team walked of the field at the Maracana. My father and I couldn’t believe what we were seeing and Camilo was distraught too. “Fucking Brazilians!” I shouted to see if anyone would scold me,but no one did. My father sank into a furious silence. Camilo immediately set off downtown, and he was part of the crowd that protested in front of the Brazilian embassy. I wanted to go with him, but my parents wouldn’t let me , and I had to swallow my rage.

The moment Rojas did the injury that turned out to be fake .

Again i was touched by Zambra I said although he grew up a million miles away from me and in a different world . I connected with him in ways of going home and again here , I remember my first interactions with a pc .But more than that the memory of what happened in that world cup qualifying game in 1989 that saw chile miss the 1990 world cup all but forgotten now outside Chile was by me at least remembered for a number of days after the reading of the story .Rather like Robin Williams in the film the final cut Zambra is a master of slicing together parts of life memories , loves and behind it all the dark past of Chile .This is a wonderful debut short story collection from one of the leading lights of Latin American fiction at the moment.

Have you read Zambra ?

 

By night in Chile by Roberto Bolano

 

 

By night in Chile by Robert Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title – Nocturno de Chile

Translator – Chris Andrews

Source – Library book

 

I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Alive as you or me
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold.

I choose  a Dylan lyric I dreamed of St .Augustine a song that is about Augustine of Hippo who wrote about Guilt and evil !

Well another year another Bolano  novel on the blog .I intend at some point to get all the books by Roberto Bolano  on this blog, for now  this is the seventh book by him I have reviewed on this blog .I’ve mentioned lots about Bolano before so , lets just say its twelve years since he dies and we are nearing the end of his books being published with just two more to come out in English one of those still to come out in  Spanish , that being  the  mysterious Diorama to come out .But the last on the list out in spanish is Little Lumpen novelita which came out in US late last year , no UK date I can see at the moment  .

I am dying now  , but still have many things to say .I used to be at peace with myself .Quiet and at peace. But it all blew up unexpectedly ,That wizened youth is to blame .I was at peace .I am no longer at peace .There are a couple of points that have to be cleared up .

The opening lines as he decides to write his own story on this one evening .

By night in chile could maybe called his stab at a modernist novel in a way it is a single piece told in one long paragraph by a priest  whom writes this all in the course of one night .who is also a poet Father Sebastian Urrutia lacroix , who is under the impression this is going to be his last night on earth so is writing the tale of his life down .A life of a poet and a priest , but of a nearly man  , a man who touched greatness in his life he knew Pablo Neruda , the great poet of Chile .But what we see is how his life also got caught up in the politics of Chile at the time the shift from the Allende regime to the stricter and ruthless reign of  Augusto Pinochet .The latter of which he ends up teaching , about communism .Added to this he is a member of Opus Dei what comes across is an embittered man who is so twisted by who he is inside it all comes pouring out on to the page over the course of this  one night as he thinks he is dying  .

Then I took a train to Turin , where I visited Fr Angelo , curate of St Paul of Succour , who was also versed in the falconers art .His falcon , called Othello  , had struck terror into the heart of every pigeon in Turin  , although as Fr Angelo confided in me , Othello was not the only falcon in the city ,

I choose this on a whim to quote just because H is for Hawk won the Costa just as I was finishing this book the other night !

Now I’ve been a bit vague as this is only a short novella and I’m not wanting to give too much away as ever the main character is a poet ,which I have found is the case in most of the novels by Bolano .The book is far more political than the other books I have read by Bolano , it is a lot more about , his homeland and the events that happened in the country in his youth .It is worth noting at this point , Bolano himself spent time in prison , which he describe in a story , but was it a story it seems as thou he may have been at Mexico at that time according to other reports .I love the mystery around his own life at the time .But what comes across in the book is that in some ways Lacroix is the juxtaposed of Bolano , some that stayed , some that worked with the regime , some one that was a poet as well .But by this time I feel Bolano viewed himself more as a Novelist than a poet , so unlike Lacroix , he had started to see success .Add to this Falconery as a hobby , years spent in Europe and an Opus Dei  side story in a way .At the start of this review I called this a Modernist Novel for me this was an attempt by Bolano to maybe do a Woolf or Joyce so to speak  an homage to their style in some ways I was most reminded of Mrs Dallowway in a way as it isn’t just one evening but also the course of a life in one book .

Have you read this or any shorter Bolano books ?

The Neruda case by Roberto Ampuero

The Neruda case by Roberto Ampuero

Chilean fiction

Original title –  El caso Neruda

Translator – Carolina De Robertis

Source – review copy

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

I choose the first two verse of a poem by Neruda one of the few I read online that touched me a lot A dog has died source

There is nothing better than the unknown book falling through the letterbox at Winston towers such as it was with this book when it arrived .Souvenir press sent me this book I’m one that falls in love with covers and I did with this one with its great picture  of Neruda on the cover .Robert Ampuero has lived a life , in fact in some ways the way he has moved around the world he left his native Chile after the Coup in 1973 first to east Germany to study , then in Cuba back to Chile and then Sweden and finally in the US where he is the professor of creative writing at the university of Iowa .

“In that case , it’s time for you to read the Belgian ,” the poet continued forcefully .”Because if poetry transports us to heaven , crime novels plunge you into life the way it really is , they dirty your hands and blacken your face the way coal stains engine stokers on trains in the south ,where I was born ,I’ll lend you these volumes so you can learn something from Inspector Maigret .

Young Brule is given the task and told to read Maigret to help him with it by don Pablo .

Well  I for one had wanted to know more about Pablo Neruda , he has always been on my radar of some one to read , he of course one the Nobel  prize for literature but is one of the best known poets from Latin America .The book is an imagined journey around the world by a young man on behalf of Pablo Neruda . The young man Cayetano Brule is a young private in the Cuban army where he is given a task to help Don Pablo , the job is to be a detective of Don Pablo’s life to retrace the woman he loved and left through out his life .Don Pablo ask the young man if he has read any crime fiction to help him along the way , he says he has read he says some Christie , Chandler and of course Holmes .At this point Don Pablo says he needs to read Simenon detective Maigret (he is not the only one I’ve read a lot as you all know this year as well ) so Neruda sends his private Maigret to rediscover his former loves , this journey takes him Berlin ,Cuba , Mexico and Bolivia as he follows the woman who meant something in Neruda’s life .

The poets large brown eyes grew more alert , as they always did when he was talking about women .Cayetano already knew this expression with its fleeting , youthful glow “A young woman , then. How old ? ”

“She was a teenager in the early sixties so today she should be around thirty ”

Don Pablo talking about on of his women as he sends his private to find out what happened to her .

The book is about an old man wanting to find out about his life and using this younger man to in some way recapture his youth , but also do that thing which we all do from time to time and that is to recapture one’s old loves .Alongside this we see the world Neruda lived in and how his shifting views on the world , also reflected at times the moving views in the world he had lived in .The coups,  political changes ever shifting politics of Latin America in the 20th century , all this viewed through the eyes of this young man who dreams of being a great writer like Don Pablo is .Don Pablo is painted with a loving eye , you can tell that Roberto Ampuero is a huge fan of this man , he even says in his after word how when he was younger he could see Pablo Neruda house from his own house , the room he was aware of with the huge chair by the window that Pablo Neruda used to sit in .I always love the way Latin American writers twist the detective novel as a form , Ampuero has twisted it to both be a great detective novel , but also a great piece of biography and also a look at the history and politics at the time of Neruda’s life .I was also left with the wanting to buy a collection of Neruda’s poetry .

Have you read Neruda ?

The insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano

the-insufferable-gaucho-978033051062201

The insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano 

Chilean fiction

Original title – El Gaucho insuferible 

Translator – Chris Andrews 

Source – library

Amazing travelers, what fantastic stories you tell!
What a bottomless incurvation to your eyes.
Show us the streaming gems from the memory chest
The mirroring beads of anecdote and hilarity. We’d also
Like to think it possible to combat the tediousness of these bourgeois prisons.
We’ll stretch the canvas, prepare the paints and brushes
Willing to take a month or even a year to make ourselves great.
What have you seen?

Baudelaire The voyage ,i loved this I read it after it was mention in the essay Literature + illness  = illness

Well this book is another hangover from Spanish lit month ,I have reviewed five of Bolano’s books before on the blog ,with Trevor over at Mookse and gripes doing a 2666 readalong ,that I am thinking about doing as a reread .I have said much about Bolano over the other post on him .I am slowly reading through his backlist and we are getting to the end of his books coming out in English with just two more it seems to come out .So it’s to insufferable gaucho a collection of Bolano’s short stories and a couple of essays .

Many years ago I had friend Jim , and he was the saddest North American I’ve ever come across .I’ve seen a lot of desperate men .But never one as sad as Jim .Once he went to Peru – supposedly for more than six months ,but it wasn’t long before we saw him again .The Mexican street kids used to  ask him , what’s poetry made of Jim?

Jim a short story of a sad man and poet in mexico

The stories cover a Vietnam vet coming to terms with his life ,Jim the vet in question  is a typical Bolano character ,he has escaped America and is trying to make his way in Mexico city as a poet , but not really getting to far .The we have a tale of an informer called police rat .But for me the story that really hit home was Alvaro Rousselot’s journey ,a tale that sees the title character who is an Argentinian writer having to go to France to find someone who is illegally make films of his books without his permission to find the man Morini that made a film lost voices that is so much like his own book solitude but get lost at times in France and he doesn’t speak French . The two essay in the collection are interesting the first seems to have been a lecture that Bolano gave at some the subject was literature and illness how the two interweave , using the poem which I quote from in the first section as part of the essay illness and French poetry .

What can Sergio Pitol , Fernando Vallejo and Richard Pigla do to counter the avalanche of glamour ? not much .They can write .But writing and literature are worthless if they aren’t accompanied by something imposing than meer survival .Literature ,especially in Latin America , and I suspect in Spain as well ,means success ,by which ,of course ,I mean social success :massive print runs :translation into more than thirty languages

The trouble of finding  identity and breaking out in Latin American literature .

I read this about two months ago and was a bit humdrum about it but since then I have thought about bits of the stories in this collection and rather like a wine ,this book tastes better with time away from it .The collection has lots of parts of Bolano as a writer that I like his poets on the edge with Jim .In police rats the story is formed from out of a sister of one of the characters in a Kafka story .Then the essays are a nice little taster too his non fiction writing ,I have his huge collection Between parentheses ,which over time I have been dipping in and out of .The second essay is a quick look by him at Spanish and Latin american  lit at the time it was written and is an interesting look as some of the writers he mentions like Pitol are just reaching us in English ,deep vellum are publishing this highly acclaimed Mexican writer .This would serve as a good starter for any one that has read Bolano and maybe want to get little nibbles of him as a whole as the stories cover the range of his writing from mexico ,to magined writers and non fiction ,not filling to me as a huge fan but it gives you a real feel of him as a writer .

Have you read Bolano ?

Dead stars by Alvaro Bisama

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Dead stars by Alvaro Bisama

Chilean fiction

Original title – Estrellas muertas

Translator -Megan McDowell

Source – Review copy

I said when I reviewed Zenith hotel that so far in 2014 I had read two stunning books ,well this is the second one .Alvaro Bisama Grew up around Villa Alemana .He studied Playa Ancha university before coming a columnist after university .He also started writing .He also got a master’s degree from university of Chile ,where he worked on the website Mariano Aguirre alongside Alejandro Zambra ,also with Zambra he was on Hay festival Bogotá 39 of the best 39 writers under 39 .he has published seven books including four novels .

We’d be down in the port ,at Hesperia ,cafe 8.30 .Talking about whatever .She’d be chain-smoking ,and I  would shred the skin of my lips with my teeth .Those nervous habits were all we had left in those days .

Opening both sat at a cafe ,waiting when they read the paper .

Dead stars ,strangely enough starts of a bit like Marias The infatuations in a cafe ,it is the end of a relationship a couple is using the cafe every time they visit there lawyers to finalize the details of their divorce .Anyway one day they are sat there reading the paper when they discover an article mentioning Javiera  a women they both knew when they were studying .Now in a rather Proustian moment we go back into the  history to the early  post -Pinochet years of the 90’s  and this couple when they first  meet at college discovering them selcves ,Chiles past and forging their own ways and Political views ,that at a later date will have a big impact on each of them  .How there lives all intersect in a backdrop of Grunge ,pink music ,drink and drugs and drug addiction .They remember what happened along the way til the point their respective lives split .

She said it all comes back at once ,it all comes back so suddenly .The photo opens the door .My memory is the room .

The proustian moment of remembering where they both met and the story began .

Now I was thinking of something to compare this with and the way my mind works the first thing that struck me was a piece of art .the Simon starling piece Shed Boat Shed ,where he took shed and this was the couple at the start of the book ,then made the shed into a boat and that like this book is a journey into the past is a voyage of discovery .Then we get back to the present and like the rebuilt shed in the piece it isn’t quite the same .I feel that covers the book well it is about rediscovering ones self  ,a collective past and also a country struggling with a violent past and the fallout due to that ,these quiet unknown years after pinochet when the shadows are still there but people don’t always see them ,not til they are sat looking back  .It was also nice to be reminded of some of the music of the time and to discover some artist I  didn’t know or remember .Bisama is one to watch and great on Ox and Pigeon the small electronic publisher to finally bring one of the brightest hopes of Latin American fiction to us in English .

Woes of the True policeman by Roberto Bolano

woes of the true policeman

Woes of the true policeman by Robert Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title Los sinsabores del verdadero policía

Translator Natasha Wimmer

Source – Library

Well as all of you that  have followed this blog for a time,will  know Bolano is one of my favourite writers and this is the fifth book I have under review here  and the ninth in all I’ve read by Bolano ,this one comes from the works he was working on when he died that were left on a hard drive .So although I loved this book like I have most of his books I do wonder if it was as he want or just fragments strung together .

According to Padilla ,remembering Amalfitano ,all literature could be classified as heterosexual , homosexual or bisexual .Novels ,in general were heterosexual .Poetry on the other hand , was completely homosexual .Within the vast ocean of poetry he identified various currents .

A controversial argument opens the novel

The “Woes of a true policeman ” has Bolano written all over it ,firstly settings First Spain then Mexico us border .Characters in this book where in earlier works ,they feel at times like Bolano intend this as a stand along read to 2666 maybe even a prelude to that book .The Characters are the Lit professor Oscar Amalfitano ,although in 266 he is described as more gay and is also a professor of philosophy not literature in that book .We also recounted the German writer Benno Von Archimboldo ,where we see his works describe as some works through the books he wrote this is the connection to the first man Oscar because he once long ago translated on of Archimboldo’s books .Add in forged paintings ,some dark situations and a  touch of humour you have the makings of what might be a third epic to sit along 2666 and Savage detectives ,because Bolano had spent the best parts of twenty years working on this book .

Works of J.M.G Archimboldi (Carcasanne 1925 )

novels

The enigma of the cyclist of the tour de france – Gallimard ,1956.

Vertummnus – Gallimard ,1958.

Hartmann von aue – Gallimard 1959.

Sam O’Rourkes search – Gallimard,1960 .

Riquer – Gallimard,1961.

Railroad perfection – Gallimard,1964.

The librarian – Gallimard,1966.

The endless rose -Gallimard,1968.

The natives of Fontainebleau -Gallimard,1970.

Racine -Gallimard,1979.

Doctor Dotremont-Gallimard,1988

The list of novels and in the following section we find out about these imagined books .But aren’t the titles just wonderful .

That is the point what came first as you read this book ,This or 2666 one imagines Bolano spent the last twenty years of his life working this book together and at various points used it as a spring-board to other books namely 2666 ,but the section with the Bibliography of Benno Von Archimboldo also remind me of his great book on imagined Nazi writers of Latin america ,Nazi Literatures in america and father daughter relationships are something else I ve read in other books by Bolano .So although at times this books jumps and you can tell or feel it is a little unpolished or is it just  Bolano playing with the novel as a form ,in Antwerp the are huge gaps that are left for you as a reader in Nazi literatures in America there isn’t a linear narrative ,so it is hard to say what stage the book was in .I’m sure some of you are going well just look up I could but that would spoil my fun .I wonder what else is on the hard drive is this a bottomless pit like the Pessoa trunk seems to be ? With still a couple of books to read from Bolano I feel his place in Latin American fiction is yet to be decided .He took chunks of fellow writers the dedication at the front is to Manuel Puig and Philip K dick now Puig in his work  I have always seen ,but from my reading of two Dick books twenty years ago I can see him as well that uneasy sense of place (I know sci-fi don’t fall back in horror I have also read fantasy in the past ) .As we read more from the next generation the Likes of Neumann ,Pron ,Luiselli ,Enrique and et al will show his lasting legacy .

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite Bolano ?

Antwerp by Roberto Bolano

Antwerp by Roberto Bolano

Chilean fiction

Translated by Natasha Wimmer

Well I wasn’t going to cover Bolano over Spanish lit month .But then I was in library and saw they had this one ,which had been one I wanted to try of the seemingly endless number of books after the Late Roberto’s death as it was his first try at Novel writing having started as a poet .So this book written when Bolano was 27 and was living in Barcelona ,this is around the time he meet his future wife Carolina Lopez .This book is set in the area round Barcelona called the Costa Brava .

The only novel that doesn’t embarrass me is Antwerp

A quote on the front cover from Bolano .

When I first saw this book which is a loose crime novel ,that is made up of 56 connect /unconnected narratives .My first thoughts was Borges I don’t know why I ve read many interviews where Bolano mention the Argentina master .But then my mind drifted to the experiential nature of the book and books like if on a winter’s night as Bolano appears to be one of the mostly unnamed narrators of this book .Like Italo Calvino’ the book seems to want you to be drawn in and maybe connect the snippets that we are given to make a whole picture ,thus making the reader work as they read which is a wonderful tool  .I also thought of  the book by B.S Johnson The unfortunates which like Antwerp is a collection of vignettes mostly from unnamed narrators  around a football match  and some one suffering cancer .But it  can be mixed up apart from the last and first chapter  I felt this book could be just the same and would maybe felt  different every time you read  as you remember different bits and piece them in a different way .So what is the book is a patchwork of incidents ,policemen having sex with a girl in a seedy hotel room ,a red-headed girl who is camping ,A hunchback  and of course Roberto himself .Small piece non more than three pages . Each piece is like a memory or dream you’re not sure which adding to the mystery of the book .

19 romantic novel

I was silent for a moment and then I asked whether he really thought Roberto Bolano had helped the hunchback just because years ago he was in love with a mexican girl and the hunchback was mexican too ,Yes said the guitarist ,it sounds like a cheap romance novel ,but I don’t know how else to explain it mean in those days Bolano wasn’t overflowing with solidarity or desperation ,two good reasons to help the Mexican but nostalgia ,on the other hand .

One vignette but also a classic Bolano I felt .

 

 

I was astound he didn’t decide to publish it till twenty years after he wrote .I personally feel  that it was maybe the second favourite book of his I ve read. But also was maybe a signpost to all that followed in  Bolanos writing life . The crime element and a murder you can see in the skating rink which is set in the same area of Spain .The vignette style is maybe expanded in nazi literature of america another book with a non linear narrative  but where the idea surround the book is the main drive .The main drive in this book is tackling the crime novel ,but also maybe a way to bring poetic values to a fiction novel .I felt he tackled a way to bring a more poetic form to narrative fiction .Maybe the chaos of the book and how it can be read in different ways is like his two epics 2666 and savage detectives where you can feel lost at times but also draw your own views as your lost in his proses .Also Mexico creeps in the book via Mexican Hunchback .So If David lynch moved to spain and had written novels this would be by him .In fact I expand on that David Lynch could work this into a wonderful series there is so much in this for so little I feel this is a book I ll buy and re read time and time again .Another Spanish lit month read .

Have you read this book ?

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