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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,553 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Intalnim in acest pseudo-thriller fara deznodamant cadavre si politisti rataciti pe drumul Castelldefels si Barcelona, o roscata misterioasa despre care vorbeste tota lumea, dar nevazuta de nimeni, un vagabond cocosat traind in padure, un asasinat congelat in memoria catorva, plaje maturate de o lunga toamna mediteraniana, albastrul marii, flash-uri de scene sadomasochiste ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published 2011 by Leda (first published January 1st 2003)
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The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp"-Roberto Bolaño

A quick look at the reviews for this book show some people who really don't like it. They are probably right

This is a young work. It's darkly romantic (without sentimentality). It wears it's belief in the power of literature and words right on it's sleeve (so to speak, because books don't have sleeves, and this one doesn't even have a dust jacket).

Of what is lost, irretrievebly lost, all I wish to recover is the daily availablit
Play the flute, O dear death,
Frantic solitude engraves,
In your mellow embrace,
Letters of a fleeting breath.

Sometimes, I just lay on the floor fearing of being drowned in the emotional mayhem conferred by a book for being loyal to its words. And, then at times when I have no answers to the myriad questionnaires I seek refuge in these written words as a lost soul finding its home. The desire for a transparent ceiling seems surreal like a fish praying for wings. The fatalities of trust, love, sex
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

For those who don't know, in recent years the new poster-child for American intellectuals has become the late Chilean author Roberto Bolano, for a whole perfect storm of small reasons: a former leftist political radical who wrote manytimes impenetrably dense yet poetic manuscripts, his rough-and-tumble li
May 26, 2013 Nick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those familiar with Bolaño's novels
Antwerp — written in 1980 but not published in Spanish until 2002 — has been described as a loose prose-poem. 56 short, fragmentary, wonderfully-written vignettes/sketches, some barely taking up half a page of a very small almost pocket-sized book. Characters tie the sketches together; the hint of storyline, of narrative. Sparse impressions. The origins of Bolaño's other works of fiction. The subjects and themes that run throughout his later works are here, almost as if Bolaño is testing the wat ...more
Jeff Jackson
Sep 12, 2012 Jeff Jackson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the erotic repetitions of Alain Robbe-Grillet and/or James Ellroy
At first this reads like a bunch of noir-inflected prose poems -- but as the characters begin to repeat, locations stubbornly reappear, and dead bodies pile up in familiar configurations, you realize this is a deeply fractured crime novel, of sorts. Or maybe a hallucinatory poetic sequence that's extracted its essence from a well-worn pile of detective fiction. However you care to classify this assortment of startling images, pulp scenarios, and aggressive displacements, there's an underlying-bu ...more
Tanuj Solanki

‘Will you visit me?’ ‘My boss says it takes 0.54 seconds for a person to decide to open an email after reading the subject line.’ ‘But I took decisions. And I also think there is an element of destiny here.’ ‘There is a book on my crotch. The story I’m reading is titled ‘MY ONE TRUE LOVE.’’ ‘There is a sex stain on his bed sheet.’ ‘This is the Swiss countryside. Electric fences and cows grazing behind them. Also little Santas hanging on attic windows.’ ‘Thank you for this. You are a ter
Lakis Fourouklas
“I wrote this book for the ghosts” says the author, before adding that this “my only novel that doesn’t embarrass me…”
The thing is though that this book is not neither a novel, nor a novella; it’s not even a short story collection. If anyone asked me I would say that what we have here is a collection of clippings of life and of random thoughts that somehow manage to meet at one point or another and thus make sense.
The author is doing here what he does best; he’s playing. He’s playing with the
Fragmented abstract notes (sometimes complete with cinematographic direction) for the most pretentious art film ever made? Representative phrase: "All I can come up with are stray sentences, he said, maybe because reality seems like a swarm of stray sentences. Desolation must be something like that, said the hunchback." Unattributed jags of dialogue/quotation. Occasional self-conscious commentary on the book's form. Quick cuts within paragraphs consistently derailed my attention (not necessarily ...more
"i wrote this book for myself, and even that i can't be sure of. for a long time these were just loose pages that i reread and maybe tinkered with, convinced i had no time. but time for what? i couldn't say exactly. i wrote this book for the ghosts, who, because they're outside of time, are the only ones with time. after the last rereading (just now), i realize that time isn't the only thing that matters, time isn't the only source of terror. pleasure can be terrifying too, and so can courage... ...more
This short novel as Bolaño called it was confusing and bewildering to read. Written in 56 short vignettes or sketches, it was easy to read in a couple of hours. Digesting it and nailing down what happened and who was involved is another thing.

As far as I can tell there was a terrible crime committed at a campground, the subsequent crime investigation, a meandering and wandering author--probably Bolaño himself. There's also a nameless girl, a hunchback, and an Englishman. None of them are concre
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Bolano's first novel. A fragmented, jumbled-up look at his life as a young expat in the seamy side of the Costa Brava. A corrupt policeman and his liaison with a girl who works in the drug trade, a hunchback, a Jewish girl, an English writer past his prime, anal sex in a squalid room, murders at a nudist camp site, fragments, phrases, meditations, a railway station at's brilliant, full of despair and hope and the dreams of a young man finding his way in his craft or art. I will clearl ...more
Reading this is like being in a dream, or rather, someone else's dream, or rather, waking up and recounting your own dream, hence it doesn't make sense much, but I definitely feel it. I started reading this late at night and just couldn't stop; I wanted to go on and on and make sense of all these dreams.

This "novel"'s just short. I need to re-read it soon.
Antwerp. A great book form and way of writing. This is an aesthetic book experience - hardcover with dust jacket - a small pocket book - nice to carry around, each page can stand alone and be read like a poem, very visual images, oblique endings.

Is it poetry in a different form? It is a story that is assembled in a cubist style. Very visual snippets of images,
it's like storyboard for a film.
It can be read from the beginning or read any page of the 56 'chapters'. They can stand alone as an inten
We are in a post-modernist time warp. Maybe in Barcelona, maybe in Mexico City, maybe in Antwerp. Probably in Barcelona. There's a hunchback, six dead bodies in a campground where naked orgies were held, a policeman making love to an 18-year-old redhead. Don't forget the medic, the writer Bolaño who flits in and out, a train at night. There are images that stick in the mind, but it's all like a puzzle whose pieces are not quite machined to fit exactly. No matter. This fit after a fashion in some ...more
Non sono un fantasma, ne consegue che questo scritto di Bolano per me è illeggibile. Propendo piuttosto alla prima ipotesi fatta dall'autore nell'incipit e cioè che questa opera l'abbia scritta prevalentemente per se stesso, per il resto del mondo che non è Bolano risulta incomprensibile e senza senso.
Leggere Anversa è come cercare di comprendere un sogno particolarmente incasinato, di solito lo lascio stare, non cerco di capire, meglio un sogno non compreso che un sogno mal interpretato.
Non ste
I work with this sweetly gentle hippie guy who is kind of adorable in his own goofy way, and he recommended Bolaño to me quite highly. Bolaño had actually been on my radar for a while, but I'd never gotten around to him for one reason or another. You know how those things go.

Anyways, I figured that even if it wasn't my taste, I'd have something to chat with Andrew about, so I did a little research and picked Antwerp - because it was short and because the cover has a quote from the author saying
Het boek uit, maar is dit boek ooit uit? De hoofdstukken zijn schilderijen. Poëtische, filmische schetsen, waar je lang op moet kauwen: ongrijpbaar, sinister, infiltrerend in alle krochten van je ziel. Dit boek is al een jaar mijn levensgenoot en zelfs nu ik het uit heb, blijft het nog even in mijn rugzak.
Antwerp is depressing in several ways. Primarily it comes from an evidently tremendous effort to be cool, elliptical, laid-back, and fearless in subject matter. I am inordinately fond of Bolaño's work, so I'd like to think this is all intentional and directed toward an end, but if so, it escaped me, and I didn't even want to browse back and see if I'd missed anything.

It is an early work, which lay unpublished for three decades before it was sent to the publisher with a sort of Slow Learner intr
A central series of events and themes, some of which are recognisable from The Savage Detectives, is recollected in a series of fragments that aim not to reveal the nature of those events but traverse them every which way in memory. The writing is often cinematic in the sense that we are told what point of view we are taking up on a scene, and directions are given concerning who is walking towards or away from the camera. Many of the fragments are oriented around a series of phrases the origin o ...more
Jack Waters
Antwerp is persuasive w/r/t the merits and possibilities of brevity.

You can read it in a few minutes. Should you? Have you ever taken those cylinders of orange juice concentrate bottoms up with much success? It doesn't matter, really.

Bolaño’s feverish vistas depict plenty of Worlds within the sparse descriptions he offers about them.

Magnified ado is given to R.B.'s own declarative of this work: "The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp."

Does non-embarrassment equal Best Work? Have
I've never quite bought the hype-machine of Bolano, but the few books I've read by him I've enjoyed. Multiple people, however, told me to check this one out, so I filed it in the back of my head, figuring that when it was the right time it would come to me. Yesterday I saw the paperback (what a lovely cover!) staring back at me at Dog Earred Books on Valencia and decided that it was the right time. I've read it over the last 24 hours, reading it while I smoke, while I shit, while I stand up in m ...more
Joseph Nicolello
Waxing moon in August.

this one reminds me of paris spleen, familiar hauntingly calculated (by hauntingly calculated i mean something like the effect of when a little younger watching blue velvet for the third time and really unconsciously analyzing more subtle scenes and WHAM the Yellow Man, towards the end, is standing tall and dead, a piece of his brain exposed, yet swings arms at dispatch radio - haunting calculation? what the fuck is this and how did i, or you, or anyone get here?) of the bo
I got this book as a small hardback, and I am glad because it means I can carry it around to consult numerous time in the future, and I believe I will come to love it more. Right now, I find it bewildering, like something I tried out and could not get them all in one reading. It is unpolished but impressively raw, and I enjoyed it. I suspect I'll need to talk more about it in future.


"The scorn I felt for so-called official literature was great, though only a little g
Originally written in 1980 when Bolaño was 27 years old, not published in Spanish until 2002 and translated into English in 2011, Antwerp is the genesis of his fictional voice. The fractured narration, self-as-character, conversational snippets - it's all here in a much more raw form than his later works. Again, the book ostensibly deals with a murder and its investigation, but is not a mystery. Plot is not the point - atmosphere and language reign supreme. As unstructured and formless as it is, ...more
Oliver Ho
There's something hypnotic about this weird, dark, poetic novel. It reminded me a lot of Robe-Grillet's new novel, the movies Last Year at Marienbad and Wings of Desire, and Barry Gifford's Port Tropique. I'm not at all certain what the book is about, or what even happens, but I became immersed in the swirl of voices and images. I will definitely read this one again.

Here are some of the parts I highlighted:

I wrote this book for myself, and even that I can't be sure of. For a long time these were
Off The Shelf
Pronoy Sarkar reviewed Antwerp on

When Writers Write For Themselves by Pronoy Sarkar

Antwerp is a funny little book. It’s comprised of 54 sections and is hardly eighty pages in length. I say “sections” because chapters suggest something complete, a beginning and an end, an unfolding of events. Sections, however, are more open-ended, neutral; they merely act as distinguishing marks, and say nothing of the content. The section names are oblique and provide the reader with very litt
"I’m my own bewitchment." ~ Roberto Bolaño

Bolaño said “the only novel that doesn’t embarrass me is Antwerp.” This slim volume, best read in one sitting, exudes poetry and beauty even in its most brutal, ugly passages.

"I can’t be pessimistic or optimistic, everything is determined by the beat of hope that manifests itself in what we call reality." ~ Roberto Bolaño

Classic Bolaño bluntness and themes steeped in stark realism and layered with a vague sense of unease; what just happened?

"That’s the w
Sinh Bisen
The first time I came across a book by the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano was Christmas 2009, in a second hand bookstore on Ossington Avenue, I stumbled upon the novel 2666. I flipped through a few pages of 2666. My eyes were drawn to another book, one by the American author Robert Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest.

I put $9.50 on the counter and came to possess Infinite Jest. Infinite Jest never did quite possess Sinh. I read 96 pages. I put the book aside. The feeling I experienced abandoning Wal
I had to reread this because I felt like I'd "missed" something but then I realized it's not a novel that's supposed to have a concrete plot. I'm a really plot-centric (is that a thing? idk) reader so it was kind of hard for me to accept this at first but then my dissatisfaction transformed into fascination. Idk if I would recommend this to anyone who hasn't read Bolano though. There's a few parallels between this and The Savage Detectives which I thought was neat
A glimpse into Bolaño's mind. I see this sort of as a note to self - a shorthand of moments with some strange resonance for the author. Remember the sound of this sentence, the feeling of listening to this conversation. Bolaño will later translate these moments into "regular" novels that allow the reader to experience that same strangeness. Or something else maybe.
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  • The Literary Conference
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For most of his early adulthood, Bolaño was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.

Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.

More about Roberto Bolaño...
The Savage Detectives 2666 By Night in Chile Distant Star Last Evenings on Earth

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“Of what is lost, irretrievably lost, all I wish to recover is the daily availability of my writing, lines capable of grasping me by the hair and lifting me up when I'm at the end of my strength. (Significant, said the foreigner.) Odes to the human and the divine. Let my writing be like the verses of by Leopardi that Daniel Biga recited on a Nordic bridge to gird himself with courage.” 7 likes
“And I no longer ask for all the solitude in the world, but for time.” 3 likes
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