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.

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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 ?

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 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 ?

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 ?

bolano,bolano ,bolano

having just brought nazi literature in america by Roberto Bolano and having 2666 on shelf still to read ,imagine my dismay to find that three are no fewer than 3 more translation of Bolanos earlier work due out this year .This brought to mind a interview in Guernica  by H C Moya about the danger in the rising power of Bolano is having on overshadowing other latin american lit or Bolano inc .I enjoyed savage detectives and have an interest in reading these three books but feel slightly overwhelmed that they are all coming out in a 8 month period .Bolano died in 2oo3 ,but in last twelve months seems to have building up a head of steam and is on course to replace Garcia Marquez  as the most recognized latin american writer .

      First is nazi literature in america is already out a fictional account of right-wing writers in south america ,next up is monsieur pain a slim tome about a Peruvian poet on new directions .in may come Antwerp another slim tome a prose poem and crime story in one .last up in august is the return both of these also out on new directions .

Have you read B

olano  ?

Do you think this is too much at once ?

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