Author Topic: Roberto Bolano  (Read 968 times)

Roberto Bolano
« on: April 25, 2018, 07:38:40 PM »
So I've just finished reading The Savage Detectives, which I liked a great deal. I've read a little of his poetry and I didn't much care for it, somehow his aggressively bohemian schtick is more compelling to me in prose form.
Can anyone particularly recommend anything else of his- I know he wrote quite a lot of shorter fiction- before I get around to tackling the behemoth that is 2666?

Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 02:31:05 PM »
I love Bolano - with the caveat that I've not actually read that much by him. Can definitely recomment distant star, just a weird, haunting little novel about power and violence and art. A lot shorter than Savage Detectives and 2666 but has that same sticking power. I think about it often.

I need to get round to reading 2666, which I bought in an act of hubris a couple of years ago and still haven't got round to opening. The massive fucker just stares out at me from the shelf.


Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2018, 06:42:50 PM »
Thanks for that Soup, I'll look out Distant Star.

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2018, 09:01:24 PM »
2666 is incredible. I'd say its one of my favourite books. I liked Savage Detectives but didn't love it in the same way I loved 2666. Of his slimmer novels I'd recommend Distant Star and By Night in Chile. His short stories are very good too.

He seems to have drifted out of fashion a bit, after being hailed as a literary phenomenon when the 'big' books were translated into English. I think his reputation has been tainted a little by the glut of lesser works and juvenalia that got pumped out in the absence of any thing else to publish, what with him being dead and all.

He owes a massive debt to Julio Cortazar, and if you liked Savage Detectives I very much recommend Cortazar's Hopscotch. 

Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 10:52:07 PM »
Thanks for the Cortazar recommendation. I see Bolano cited him and Borges as his key influences, and seeing as I'm enjoying what I've read of Bolano's so far -and I already adore Borges- I think it's fair to expect that Hopscotch might well be my sort of thing.

Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2018, 04:44:14 PM »
Just an update to say that I've now finished both Distant Star and Hopscotch. I enjoyed them both, but have to say that I probably preferred the former. Cortazar('s translator) has some beautifully agile descriptive prose, and the structural experimentation was fascinating and well executed, but much of the dialogue and most of the characters left me cold, though perhaps they were meant to.
Thanks again for the recommendations.

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2018, 05:17:48 PM »
Ah I loved Hopscotch but I can see where you're coming from. You can definitely see his influence on Bolaño, don't you think? Much more than Borges.

If you like Borges however, Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas is in a similar vein (and also includes a story that would develop into Distant Star)


Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2018, 05:55:08 PM »
Yes, you can absolutely see the influence. I'll certainly be returning to Bolano after a bit of a palate cleansing period.

Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2019, 09:18:06 PM »
Just to report back in, after a break I've now finished 2666 and what a fascinating thing it is. Each of it's four sections building to a climax that goes nowhere, and each of them fully absorbed me despite my frustration at the previous one's lack of resolution. I gather that he felt the book still needed a lot of work, and (perhaps this is simply because I know that it was technically unfinished) occasionally a passage leaped out at me as a "place-holder", but this did nothing to diminish its impact or my enjoyment. Soup, I can't recommend it enough.
Also, Wet Blanket I read a collection of Cortazar's short stories that I absolutely loved as well, and that worked much better for me than Hopscotch.

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Roberto Bolano
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2019, 02:58:52 PM »
The final section in particular seems looser than the others - it has the feel of him racing against time to get everything on paper, although it might also be my favourite.

I've just picked up a copy of Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas, who was a contemporary and friend of Bolaño. Not started it yet but have high hopes.