rating: 3 of 5 stars
Like many other I suspect, I am freshly enamored with Roberto Bolaño, but this is the first book of his I've picked up that I didn't finish immediately. Not that it isn't a good book, but halfway through the series of short fictional biographies of South American right wing writers, I kept thinking OK I get it... so I put it down. I think Bolaño is very much about the spiral down through hell, but this was a little like reading only the explanatory notes of the Inferno, forsaking the verses.
The writing is as sharp (through translation anyway) as his other books, but I felt the story via others' stories was better done in Amulet and By Night in Chile, where you had the (sometimes very thin) connective tissue of a narrator holding it all together. I will say this book was funnier than the others, but it didn't suck me in.
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Surprised that you found this one of be a lesser Bolano work. Would rank it right beside Distant Star, with Savage Detectives on top until 2666 is finished.
Also surprised that you even read Vila-Matas' Bartleby & Co. even if you didn't dig it that much.
Hi! I thought it was definitely tighter and was on more sound conceptual footing than Amulet and By Chile but both of those won me over with sheer hallucinatory raptureReplyDelete
Bartleby & Co. (picked up because one of the stories in Last Evenings on Earth is dedicated to Villa-Matas) felt like it was trying to do a similar thing as Nazi Literature, but the author didn't quite have the chops to transcend the conceptual framework he set for himself.
I've yet to read Savage Detectives, Distant Star or 2666 (building up to that one) so maybe they will swing me the from the fever dream to the sharper side of Bolano.
I am just now scratching the surface of Fuentes' Terra Nostra so it might be a while....