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Everything I've read of his has been AWESOME. So much genius. Who's yours and WHY?
Although I do also have massive soft spots for Carl Hiassen and James Ellroy too.
I'll generally read anything that Murukami, Mitchell and Atwell bring out too.
Oh, and I'm still keeping up with my early-teens fantasy epics such as Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time.
but that's probably because I like seeing where someone else takes Murukami and Auster. There are certain things that he does with language that floor me when I read them.
I don't really have a favourite anything.
New York Trilogy and Country of Last Things are brilliant.
Everything up to and including Moon Palace (in yer face, Balonz!) is brilliant. Most of what follows is at least decent. The only book of his I've never gotten round to reading is Mr Vertigo.
partly his metaphysical conceits (with the earlier novels being more successful in this regard) and partly his sparse prose style, which I would KILL for.
I could go on for a long time about why exactly the man's work stuns me every time I read it, but in short: he's taken the concept of the novel about as far as it can go, managing to explore the full breadth and depth of human experience as only the greatest art can manage. Your life will be better for having read him.
You get past the 'anally and vaginally raped' repetitions and start to see it's more about the way that history repeats itself; that there are sages and prophets who warn us obliquely about these things but who we ignore because they cannot be specific in their predictions; how so much history and, seemingly, fate, and ancestry, can all come crashing to a halt, how it can define you or be the point from where you can choose your own destiny; above all how the last century was defined by the way humanity came to kill itself in so many terrible ways, and how the reasons for that are often above and beyond the comprehension of one man or group of me. And some other stuff...
I was always reading it just before going to sleep and that bit was a real slog... half hour of anally raped coming up. I did really like 2666 and Savage Detectives too. Haven't read anything else yet.
however the pointless bit about the Philosophy prof annoyed me though.
Fate's section was the one I enjoyed the least the first time I read it, but I've found that in re-reading it each time a different section jumps out, so the second time I read it I enjoyed it a lot more.
Archimboldi's part is the best I think. It's incredible. Even if that section was a novel on its own I'd think it one of the best novels I'd ever read.
Really wraps things up well and is also a great story in itself. I like the Fate bit a lot, especially where he meets the preacher guy, in Detroit or somewhere. However I've heard a few who aren't keen on that section.
Not sure about rereading it, at least not for a while, it was quite an undertaking.
Thanks for reminding me!
Where should I go from there?
His short novels are equally excellent, though, and they're rapidly being reprinted with new translations now that Bolaño's achieved some popular as well as critical acclaim. I'm a big, big fan of By Night In Chile, which is where he deals most explicitly with his political views - they're implied heavily in The Savage Detectives, but only in the sense that he thinks that an entire generation of Latin American intellectuals was wasted by either fascistic repression or selfish, immature poetics. By Night In Chile is told (like Camus' The Fall) as a confession, as a Catholic priest-cum-literary critic lies on his deathbed and expresses regret at how he inadvertently helped to destroy the society that he loved.
Dark Star also has a political angle, but is more of a detective story. Concerns a part-time poet who recounts his history with a former-air force pilot who reinvents himself as a poet during the coup in Chile, then using his position in society to help ensnare subversive elements in society. The narrator helps to try and track down this crazy man (who writes his poetry in the sky with his fighter plane) many years down the line.
Amulet is also good - essentially the section of the Savage Detectives with Auxilio Lacouture trapped in the bathroom on the university campus in Mexico City, extended into an incredibly intense stream-of-consciousness lament for lost works of literature (recurring themes here, you'll notice).
Nazi Literature In the Americas is nice, but very much an exercise in Borgesian surrealism.
Some of his poetry is available in English, but is difficult to track down I've found. Every bookshop I've ever looked in has been out of stock of The Romantic Dogs, and unsure as to when the next printing will be.
i guess youd probably have to know a bit about south american lit to actually get it tho
just that what its about is quite specialised so its relevance isnt immediately obvious to the lay reader
i hope they retranslate the longer ones for people the job whoever did on those is pretty bad
And I remember that we've talked about Natasha Wimmer's translations here before. I cannot read Spanish, so I have to go on the English in front of me, but I adore that prose. It's quite rare to hear of someone not liking it - what don't you like about it?
Do you mean that he's not the kind of author that usually manages to achieve both critical and popular acclaim, or just that you think he's overhyped? Because he is properly hyped up, annoyingly, because I read the Savage Detectives fully expecting to find it all talk and no walk but fuck me if I didn't think I was reading the Next Great Author.
the shorter ones are all a lot better
i guess bolanos life mustve been quite interesting but its pretty surprising how popular he is
if you want the best, or next best: Country of Last Things.
if you want to try his other stuff before working up to the best: probably, Leviathan, Moon Palace, Music of Chance, The Book of Illusions and Oracle Night. Then Country of Last Things. Then go and read all the rest, including/especially Hand in Mouth.
Having said that, I still haven't read King, Queen, Knave, the Gift, or The Original of Laura so I can't boast my superfan credentials yet.
For pretty much infinite reasons. But mainly, because I suppose I like my novels beautiful and unpleasant and philosophical and contemplative and homoerotic. Some of Mishima's stuff is pretty bad though, but he compensates well enough.
undoubtedly. sure, there've been a few that I wasn't in love with, but I pick bad Coupland over good pretty much anyone else. I'm also stoked that Bret Easton Ellis finally relased Imperial Bedrooms here today.
Smoke was near briliant, I thought. I've got Blue in the Face and Lulu on the Bridge lined up as well.