Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guttersnipe Bookshelf: Roberto Bolano

Roberto Bolaño, Last Evenings on Earth
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews
New Directions, 2006

Fashion isn’t always wrong.  Geniuses don’t always have to wait a century or two to be recognized.  Sometimes they are appreciated just shortly after their deaths. . .  The surge of interest in Roberto Bolaño has resulted in translations of his work hurrying into print and fame in English.  I have only one argument with these proceedings – this book, Last Evenings on Earth, has been unjustly neglected. 

The lion’s share of attention has gone, understandably, to Bolaño’s doorstop masterpieces – The Savage Detectives and 2666, as well as the oddly perfect novella Amulet.  The short story, that short and unpopular cousin, has been disregarded again.

These brilliant and peculiar stories could serve well to help re-energize the form -- many recent examples of which appear to have grown into a weirdly complicated and oddly dull machines, as ambitious as they are unsatisfying.

If you enjoy Bolaño, you must read this book and, if you have not yet been introduced, this is an excellent place to start.  Bolano’s humor, violence, strangeness, suspense, and tenderness are all present here in abundance.

Everyone will have their own set of favorites.  For me, the best stories were “The Grub”, “Anne Moore’s Life”, “Mauricio (The Eye) Silva” and “Sensini”.  The characters are so vivid you might confuse them, in your memory, years from now, for old doomed friends of yours. 

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