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Monsieur Pain

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  212 Reviews
A un discípulo de Mesmer le encargan que cure el hipo que sufre un sudamericano pobre abandonado en un hospital de París en la primavera de 1938. En apariencia, nada puede pasar. Sin embargo el mesmerista Pierre Pain se verá envuelto en una intriga en donde se planea un asesinato ritual de proporciones planetarias. ¿Quién es el sudamericano que agoniza en el hospital Arago ...more
Paperback, Narrativas hispánicas #275, 176 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Anagrama
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Jun 30, 2010 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really like Bolano. Every time I think about how I really like Bolano though I hear Ben Gibbard in my head un-ironically defending Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" as being a good song. "Because it's good. It's really really good." And then there are all the cool goodreaders and Karen (who is a cool goodreader, but also exists in real life), giggling uncontrollably and laughing at my enjoyment of Bolano, just like those hipsters are doing in the Ben Gibbard bootleg I downloaded somewhere a bunch ...more
May 12, 2013 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
>Wherever the sun doesn't go I don't go either. Except to pubs. -- Bohumil Hrabal

Monsignor Pain is a delightful construction. It is a blurred exposure. It is an appropriate paranoiac period piece; the Paris of 1938 teemed with suspicions and throttled aspirations. Bolano's titular protagonist is a haunted sort, gassed during the Great War and living on a pension, he's an Occultist and a confident. His bleery hopes are all unrequited. He stumbles and yet clings. A downpour of madness and paran
Dec 22, 2015 Darwin8u rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
"I do also recall, however, that for Terzeff every death had a ritual function; death, indeed, was the only genuine rite left in the world."
-- Roberto Bolaño, Monsieur Pain


"Geometry, everything was geometry and shit."
-- Roberto Bolaño, Monsieur Pain


A weird little Bolaño. A novella (Bolaño second written, first published) set in Paris in the 30s and narrated by the most unreliable mesmerist Pierre Pain. In some ways it reminded me of one of Nabokov's early, funky Russian novellas. It is all dar
MJ Nicholls
Apr 19, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Bolaño truly is the most productive of dead writers. Almost a decade in the sod and still churning out work hither and thither. The Insufferable Gaucho is due for UK release this year, and The Third Reich is slated for release next year in the US. The man’s unstoppable!

Monsieur Pain is his attempt at a novel in the genteel English vein: a work of straightforward historical fiction written in a hurried first-person with a tacked-on epilogue. It’s an atypical book in the Roberto canon, a “surr
Tanuj Solanki
Politics, and the fascination for labyrinths

In the worldly sense, Monsieur Pain is a failure, simply because it pretends - or rather it has to pretend - to be a novel. First time Bolano readers may even be expected to hurl it toward the nearby wall.

But Bolano's work relies, not just for its comprehensiveness, but also for its comprehension, on the entire body of the work, and also on Bolano's life itself. Bolano is not the kind of writer you can read one book of and form an opinion. In fact, to
Jun 17, 2013 Tfitoby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, translation
I've been meaning to read some Bolano for the past two years but the books I bought are massive tomes. When this slight and intriguing number appeared in my bookshop I found myself compelled to read it. If I had more free time this would most certainly have been a one sitting read and I think it almost requires that level of attention to get the most out of it. The set up is strong with a protagonist you'll be more than happy to take a slightly surreal journey with whilst the descriptive passage ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 08, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
It is 1938, Paris and Monsieur Pain, a noted mesmerizer is called by a friend, to the bedside of Vallejo, who is dying from the hiccups. Yes, I said hiccups. This is a mystery, why does Vallejo die or was he murdered?
He will become known in the future as the most famous of Latin America's poets. The Spanish civil war has ended, the Nazis soon to become very important and paranoia is a facet of life. This is one very veiled book, it is strange and I one time it reminded me of the TV show Fringe,
Barry Pierce
There are some instances where great geniuses can go awry. When they are so invested in writing like themselves that they form a loose parody of lucid prose which in the end only leaves a bad taste. While I did enjoy Monsieur Pain for the first third or so, I must admit that the entire novel does fall apart. It doesn’t even read like Bolaño. It’s a pity. I don’t hate it however. I… just don’t love it.
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Jul 11, 2012 Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it it was ok
I finally got around to finish reading it. I am still not sure whether I like Bolano. I very much enjoyed his short stories in "Last Evenings on Earth". They didn't feel like stories, but biographical sketches of writers at the margins of society. Here he creates a character sketch from the inside; we get Monsieur Pain's narration from his anxious psyche and though his narration is wrapped around a thinly plotted thriller about mesmerism and political intrigue, I cared less and less for everyone ...more
Julio César
Feb 16, 2011 Julio César rated it liked it
Como dijo la profesora Marsimián, a uno de los escritores que le gustan le gustan hasta los libros malos. No digo que este sea el caso, pero: 1) no creo que si Bolaño no fuera uno de mis escritores favoritos hubiera leído, ni apreciado, este libro; y 2) no se lo recomendaría a alguien no familiarizado con este escritor.
Hay fragmentos del mejor Bolaño, ese que maneja una prosa poética melancólica y absurda. La mejor parte para mí es el final, el "Epílogo de varias voces", porque ahí el autor ya m
ساختمان کار:
عجیب ، گمراه کننده، گسسته و تا حدودی ابزورد. قصه ای وجود ندارد، تنها رگه های روایی که به جایی ختم نمیشوند. ظاهرن موسیو پین درگیر یک بازی جنون آمیز شده اما نه او و نه ما تا انتها نمیفهمیم این چه بازی ای ست، اصلن بازی بوده یا نه. ضمن اینکه قصه ی تمام شخصیت ها، بسیار موجز و کوتاه، آخر داستان در قالب یک بخش جدا ضمیمه شده است.
بسیار شبیه به راشهای قلموی ون گوگ در نقاشیهای آخر عمرش. رگه هایی پر رنگ ، خشن ، کوتاه و بی دنباله و در عین حال موثر. زوم کردن ناگهانی روی یک چهره، تصویر بردار
Apr 04, 2014 Karl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins in Paris in the spring of 1938. The narrator Pierre Pain a practitioner in acupuncture and mesmerism is requested by his friend, a young widow Madame Reynaud, with whom he is hopelessly in love, to attend at the hospital bedside of her friend Madame Vallejo’s husband César Vallejo. It is Madame Reynaud’s hope that using the occult sciences Pierre Pain may cure the patient’s chronic hiccups as his current doctors have been unable to do so.

Pain tries to visit the dying man in the
Feb 28, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it
This is my first exposure to Bolaño, but I am absolutely intrigued to pick up the rest of his novels and give them all a shot. I can only imagine what he can do with a bit more length in his books (as Monsieur Pain is a very short novel, just around 134 pages in the edition I read).

This book will frustrate some readers. The way that Bolaño jumps between fragmented memories, the past, different locations, and his general hazy and foggy writing, makes the novel relatively confusing at certain par
Aug 06, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
An interesting early novel by Bolano, this book is sort of like a David Lynch movie written by Herman Hesse or Camus by way of James Joyce and Dostoyevsky and some Bret Easton Ellis thrown in. Set in Paris in the late 30's, it follows a middle-aged acupuncturist/mesmerist who is a WWI veteran. He attempts to treat a dying South American poet on the eve of the German invasion of France, and after being denied entry to the hospital, wanders the streets, paranoid that he has become part of some kin ...more
Robert Ross
Mar 17, 2010 Robert Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodfiction
Some day I may look back and decide Roberto Bolaño wasn't really all that. But then again, I may just decide to never look back. There is a brevity and strength (dare I call it visceral realism) to Bolaño's work that I deeply appreciate, and feel is lost in so much modern literature. Each successive book I read only draws me in further.

The lack of resolution in his stories, which in other places might drive me to fits of rage, only strengthens my belief that he was one of the best writers of the
Nov 16, 2013 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
It starts so simple. You meet Monsieur Pain, a mesmerist, in 1938 Paris, who gets called upon by an old acquaintance to help a husband of her friend's who is dying of hiccups. Then it gets weird. The novel very quickly is mired in a Kafkaesque miasma of doubt and suffocating dread, this veteran of WWI attempting to navigate class, romance, age, old friendships and self doubt and comes to be about the dread of the looming nazi menace, particularly as embodied in an old friend who aids Franco's fo ...more
Apr 03, 2010 Darryl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novella is set in 1938 Paris, as the famed mesmerist Pierre Pain is urgently summoned by his friend and love interest, the young widow Marcelle Reynaud. The Peruvian poet César Vallejo, whose wife is a close friend to Reynaud, is dying in the hospital with a severe and unremitting case of hiccups, and the two women believe that Pain is the only clinician who can save his life. Pain comes to the hospital, but encounters two mysterious Spanish men, who offer him a substantial bribe to not tre ...more
Siddharth Nishar
Apr 23, 2016 Siddharth Nishar rated it really liked it
This is a short, fast journey into a world that is surreal without becoming absurd. The narrative starts off reasonably well but quickly degenerates in time, causality and coherence. Episodes run by as if sketched with thick, waxy crayons on the canvas of a mind too eager to start again. The story is the setting and the environment is the plot.

Dreams are used in the beginning to draw in surreal elements but are followed by other more inventive plot devices such as a restaurant conversation, movi
Mar 02, 2016 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might be the most haunting Bolaño I have ever read...which is saying a lot.

A few things:
1. This feels distinctly like it's Bolaño's 'French novel' à la Benno von Archimboldi.
2. Pre-WWII anxiety is really ramped up here.
3. This is the most meandering, indeterminate plot of Bolaño's I've ever read. There are many dream sequences (most likely not dreams? Unclear.), drunken/fatigued stupors, shadowy figures. Even the main catalyst of the plot - poet Cesar Vallejo, whom Pain is asked to treat -
Mar 15, 2015 Arwen56 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi, lett-cilena, cile
Lo credo bene che l’autore stesso abbia affermato che el argumento de esta novela «es indescifrable». Infatti non ci ho capito un tubo.
Kimmo Sinivuori
Feb 25, 2015 Kimmo Sinivuori rated it liked it
This Roberto Bolano novella that takes place in pre-war Paris during the Spanish civil war left me a bit baffled. It is a very atmospheric but somewhat confusing story of a Parisian mesmerist Pierre Pain who gets mixed up by in a Falangist plot to murder a Latin American poet called Vallejo. The reason for the conspiracy against the poet is never revealed. The murdered poet must have had some connection to the Republicans. It is difficult to tell whether the conspiracy ever happen in reality or ...more
Cymru Roberts
Sep 23, 2014 Cymru Roberts rated it really liked it
Shelves: roberto-bolaño
You move toward the desired destination and the destination moves accordingly. At first it's no big deal, but before you know it you can't even open the door. The knob literally won't turn. Calm down. This is a joke right? But who is the joker if not God? There's nothing worse than the feeling that God is manipulating reality in a world tailor-made for your frustration. You could stop caring but something always draws you back in. A scent from the past or future. A wayward glance. It's there, fo ...more
Another plotless enigma from Bolaño. It's set in Paris in 1938 when Pierre Pain, the eponymous narrator, a devotee of Mesmerism, is called in by his friend Madame Reynaud to see what he can do to halt the rapid decline of Cesar Vallejo. The Peruvian poet is apparently dying of hiccups. Reynaud recently lost her husband in a case in which Pain's intervention was ineffective, but now says she has "faith" in his ability to help Vallejo. Pain moves about a Paris beset by surrealist distortions: the ...more
Karen Gygli
Jun 05, 2012 Karen Gygli rated it liked it
I guess I have a weakness for Bolano's novels set in Latin America. In 2066 ("The Part about Archbaldi")and again with this novel, the European settings somehow make the book less compelling to me. The various scenes of great menace and unease in 1938 Paris were beautiful and surreal, particularly the scene in the green bar with the artists who only do aquarium models of graphic death scenes. Bolano is masterful at connecting decadent art and careless brutality of word and thought with illness o ...more
Nov 11, 2009 jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
written in the early 1980's, monsieur pain is one of bolaño's earliest works. he had previously published the story under different titles (including the elephant path) while entering it into various provincial literary competitions throughout spain (a couple of which he won). in the preliminary note to monsieur pain, bolaño indicates that the "haphazard and erratic" fate of this short novel is "recounted in a story in last evenings on earth," presumably "sensini."

based on actual events, monsieu
Jul 17, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: shadowy figures at the margin
This novel felt very European, like some forgotten work from between the two great wars. The Bolaño I knew from other books was absent, or perhaps buried. As the story progressed I was half-hoping that the narrative might suddenly be stricken, and disgorge from it's chest a monster, a larval Bolaño that might run free to later infect the others with its deadly brood, to grow large and threaten the mission with acid blood and sharp teeth. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what he did.

A dark moody swirl of spies and mysticism. Except that that description makes it sound more exciting than it is.

This is a really abstract work that gets more interesting the further it gets from the plot. I wasn't really into it until the title character wandered into a restaurant and had a chapter-long conversation with some young men who designed fish tanks containing models of bus and plane crashes which the goldfish then swam around. From there we careen from one absurd nightmare to the nex
Jul 14, 2015 Paddythemic rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
so this is bolano huh?


not really impressed on any level. neither tight nor coherent; not even salvageable in parts. questions keep popping up so you keep turning the page; only to find you've been bamboozled. there's no reward in the process nor is there a payoff to be found. if you're going to submerse me in confusion as a gimmick then you better, at least, provide some badass prose along the way.

allow me a word of advice,

لميا مغنية
All of Bolano's books are so hunting and terrifying, yet so simple. they put me on the verge of breaking.
There was a paragraph in the middle of the book that said:

"My name is Pierre Pain, I am a friend of Madame Reynaud's." Madame Reynaud junior, I thought, and almost burst into hysterical laughter.

After reading that I burst into a hysterical laughter in the middle of a cafe and could not stop for hours. I still think about that sentence and burst into laughter. This is what Bolano does to me,
Octavio Solis
Jun 26, 2010 Octavio Solis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very intriguing book, with a fictional story baed on real people. Bolaño once again takes us to place where paranoia and mystery are the norm. There is something Kafkaesque about this story about an acupuncturist who is first recruited, then forbidden, to aid to a man dying of the hiccups. Strange coincidences occur everywhere and the sense of menace pervades the reality of this doctor so deeply that it infects his dream-life. I was very taken with the stylistic choices Bolaño made which I tho ...more
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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...

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“I am being followed, I realized, with a blend of certitude and astonishment, like a soldier discovering that gangrene has taken hold of his leg.” 3 likes
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