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The Skating Rink

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,922 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Rife with political corruption, sex, jealousy and frustrated passion, The Skating Rink is a darkly atmospheric chronicle of one summer season in the seaside town of Z, on the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona.

The story revolves around the beautiful figure skating champion Nuria Martí. When she is suddenly dropped from the Olympic team a besotted admirer builds a secret ice r
Published 2010 by Picador (first published 1993)
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I think I’m rather on the fence about this one; Bolano’s first novel. It is a mix of genres; a touch of murder mystery, which is entirely secondary to the plot. Throw in obsession, political corruption, immigration, poets, a seaside resort on the Costa Brava, a homeless opera singer, an Olympic skater, a ruined mansion, the influence of Borges, a secret skating rink, a love triangle and lots of individual oddities.
The novel is set in a Costa Brava town over a summer season and the narrative is t
That's Right. It's five star time! If this rating were a rap song it would be telling you to Pop Champagne and fill your cup with Patron. Then the Auto-Tune would begin. But since it is a review on an internet book site, it is coming at you in five little orange stars, which, according to Good Reads mean "It was amazing."

I have to admit I feel a little bad giving this short near-perfect work the five star treatment when I did not grace Bolano's masterwork 2666 with such a full constellation of p
I'd been debating whether or not to try any of Bolaño's shorter stuff (i.e. anything not Savage Detectives or 2666), and I'm glad I did. The murder mystery aspect is pretty underwhelming, but as far as I'm concerned Bolaño's real gift was always describing multiple characters from ensemble points of view, if that makes sense. Like in The Savage Detectives, he spent 300 pages or so having approximately eight characters describe their interactions with Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano.

In The Skating
Read this in way too many sittings, sort of failed it I think, since it's dense and narrated by three not-so-distinct voices, like a polyphonic warmup for the Savage Detectives (someone on here said something similar). The rink itself, constructed inside a ruined palace, is a beautiful image of obsession. The blades of a skate are a lethal weapon, you know. The voice of Enriq, the fat civil servant lover of the skater, I loved, but not so much the other two. Read it distractedly thanks to wailin ...more
One of the New Directions series that came out this year, The Skating Rink is a brief, intense, and very memorable novel from Bolano. It could have been one of the many branching stories that populate 2666, it even shares some themes, and even scenes, with that monster of a book. It is a story of murder, obsession, small-time political corruption, the immigrant experience in Spain, and (because it is Bolano), madness, sex, violence, ghosts, poets who are detectives, society's dropouts, nightmare ...more
Tenía ganas de leer a Bolaño desde hace tiempo. Lo lógico hubiera sido empezar por su novela más famosa “Los Detectives Salvajes”, pero quería acercarme a él desde algo más modesto, para así conocerlo un poco cuando llegara a Los Detectives (que estoy segura, ahora mucho más, de que me gustará).

Pista de hielo no es pretenciosa, no tiene aires de grandeza, y puede que por eso me haya gustado tanto. Intentaré hacer la reseña sin hacer spoilers (como siempre), pero la voy a hacer de manera bastante
I love Bolano--2666 is my favourite novel of the last decade--but I struggled to finish this short book. There are a few nice things about the book: the skating rink itself is a wonderful idea, and the character of Caridad is nice, and there's a great description of an imaginary avant-garde novel in the book. Many of Bolano's preoccupations reappear in this book: the caravan park from Antwerp, the interest in seaside vacation towns (The Third Reich, "Last Evenings on Earth"), and a flirtation wi ...more
Matthew Balliro
About halfway through The Skating Rink, I was already quite sure that this was my favorite out of all Bolano's short novels (the others being Distant Star, By Night in Chile, and Amulet; I didn't count Nazi Literature in the Americas because I wouldn't classify it as a novel, really, but I still enjoyed TSR more). I spent the rest of the text trying to figure out just why this was (and, of course, just enjoying it).

I think the reason I liked this book so much is that it reminded me, more than an
this being the first novel that bolaño wrote, it would be too easy to disregard it as an amateurish effort. while it certainly is not the most accomplished work in his acclaimed oeuvre, it is, nonetheless, an important minor contribution. the skating rink presages many of the stylistic and thematic elements that bolaño would later employ in almost all of his other works. poets, crime, violence, bureaucracy, youth, love, sex, jealousy; the components that made his later works so successful are al ...more
MJ Nicholls
So once again I find myself pulled into the world of novellas and short fictions, knowing I can finish these books in a day or two, feeding my book addiction with quicker and thicker thrills, piling up the novels until somehow the outside world subsumes itself into the fictional realm, leaving me free to write my own lurid and oblivious end.

I wanted Monsieur Pain, but some lightning snarfler got in there first, leaving me with this charming whodunit narrated by three quite samey-sounding men. No
I'm on the fence about whether I'll read more from Bolaño. I'm not a big fan of detective novels, though I've read my share of journalistic novels or murder mysteries. Capote's In Cold Blood and Garcia Marquez's News of a Kidnapping come to mind as the only things I've read in this vein. The characters were very well-developed, original and realistic. The political aspect of the novel succeeds, as in GGM's novels, by dint of Orwellian small town (X, Y, Z…) economics and corruption.

I love the nar
Henry Martin
My first Bolaño and certainly not the last. Unfortunately for Bolaño, my reading of The Skating Rink came on the tail end of reading a few exceptional works in a row. Thus, The Skating Rink only receives three stars.

The story itself was interesting, albeit none too exceptional. Where he scores high with me is in the narrative, or rather the narrators. Three different individuals narrate this story, which is hard to write. Unfortunately, while they start off with fairly distinct voices, they sor
This is Bolaño's first published novel and the first of his novels I've read. Told by three narrators, a Catalan public ifficial, a Chilean expat business owner, and a down and out Mexican poet who is working for the Chilean, an old friend.

At first, it seemed like Bolaño was telegraphing what was going to happen in this seaside murder mystery. By the midway point, I was sure I knew what was going to happen, but once the crime was revealed, I was pleasantly surprised. And after the reveal and its
Even though it's his first and least Bolaño-esque book, all the essential elements are still here. Bolaño stand-in (Gaspar) as the campgrounds watchman (which he'd later revisit in Detectives and also in Antwerp), multiple points of view, the desperados, vagrants, and vagabonds that populate his stories. I'd compare it to his other Detectives spin-off, Amulet, though I like this one better.
pierlapo  quimby
Da Gran Maestro Alchemico qual era, Roberto Bolaño conosceva il segreto mistico per eccellenza: infondere vita alle parole.
Sotto il suo sguardo stralunato, come preda di un incantesimo, le lettere si assemblano in parole che formano periodi, capitoli, racconti, storie.
E dalla malia non si sfugge.
Letteratura e vita, come sempre.
Kimmo Sinivuori
Nice Roberto Bolano story of embezzlement and murder set in a Catalonian seaside town that take place during the high season. Bolano writes well and he is very good in creating a palpable atmosphere with short sentences. One of the central places in the story, a camping site, is described so well that one can almost smell the dry earth and the Pinja trees. The same applies to the main characters of which three narrate the events that lead to the murder. The story would be almost too straightforw ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
This novel, often erroneously reported as Bolano's first (it was predated by an early version of Monsieur Pain entitled the Elephant Walk and Confessions of a Joyce Disciple to a Morrison Fanatic, the later of which has yet to be translated into English; Antwerp was also written beforehand; it was, however, the earliest chronologically to receive an English translation, at least if one takes into account that Antwerp was left unpublished for decades. Bolano's bibliography was a MESS) hinges on t ...more
Karolyn Sherwood
My first Roberto Bolaño book! I can easily say the man is a poet and a literary genius. Without having read any of his other works, it's impossible for me to say how this stands in his oeuvre, but I can say it was a fantastic book to read. In case anyone reading this review has not yet read Bolaño, I can say this novella is an excellent entry for the curious. It is light enough and accessible enough that no one need be intimidated (like I was).

On the surface, The Skating Rink is a story about a
My love for Bolano bars all criticism. But I will say the death of a certain professional athlete was constantly anticipated and never fulfilled. In the making of this book, no figure skaters were harmed.

But I kind of feel like it would have made more sense that way, tho I have nothing against figure skaters (actually I do, I've always felt an unreasonable hatred/contempt for ice skating). Maybe it is too normal a thing to expect from Bolano; that when a secret skating rink, an Olympic skater,
Aaron Mcquiston
Having read a handful of Bolano novels, I seem to like this one more perhaps because it is the most plot driven one of his novels I have read. Sure there is a little bit of here and there, the mystery of the poop artist that never really is concluded for example, the fleshing out of The Rookie for another example, but this one is kind of more enjoyable than some of the others. (Say "The Last Evening on Earth", "By Night in Chile", "The Amulet" etc.) This does not necessarily mean that it is bett ...more
Avnish K.
I've heard a lot of good things about Bolano, but this his first effort is probably not a good place to start if you want to tickle your taste buds. I like to read first books by authors before reading their magna opera (in Bolano's case '2666'), just to give a bit of background.

This has a promising premise, and the way the novel is constructed is interesting (three converging first-person narrative threads), but it just didn't seem to deliver, it lags; it is tedious to read even though the lan
Bolano has three different male narrators who tell this story in segrated segments. I don't have the book with me and don't want to mispell the charcters' names so I will go with this:

One of the narrators is an overweight local government official. He falls in love with a gifted ice skater who has been removed from Spain's olympic team. He is desperate to help regain her former glory. So, he steals money from the govenment coffers to convert a building in a ruined estate on the outskirts of the
Allan MacDonell
Unlike so many novels by Roberto Bolano, The Skating Rink is not a major work by Roberto Bolano. Another variance it has to the canon of Bolano, as least that portion of the canon I have read, is that almost every character in The Skating Rink is better off at the end of the novel than when the book began—other than the character who is stabbed to death. And even this victim is only dispatched after leaving behind a self-voiced epitaph of absolute wisdom and bloody hope: “Never trust anyone who ...more
Parrish Lantern
This book had me puzzled, it reminded me of another book, and at first I thought it was Lawrence Durrell’s “ The Alexandria Quartet” which as a tetralogy offers us four perspectives via four novels on the same series of events. But that wasn’t it. It was then I realised that it was a tale I’d read last year in Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Rashomon and 17 other stories, this tale "In the bamboo grove" concerns the murder of a traveller & the alleged rape of his wife, and is told through the differin ...more
Darren C
a li'l excerpt i enjoyed:

"Ask her to dance, said Pilar in a peremptory tone, clearly a ploy to get them out of the way. Nuria accepted without hesitation, and I watched them from my seat, as she led the way to the dancefloor, and entwined arms with the overly adroit Enric. I could feel a burning lump in my stomach. It wasn't the moment to be feeling jealous, but I was. My imagination spun out of control: I saw Nuria and the mayor's husband naked, caressing each other; I saw everybody making love
A difficult book to review. I liked the book. It is well written and I found the structure of the writing terrific --the unique structure is what I liked best about the book as I didn't particularly care for the story. I liked the storyline okay.

The tale is told from four viewpoints and switched back and forth between the voices of the four. This means each character is viewed through the eyes of the other, and I thought this device devilishly clever.

Interesting premise for a story -- a fallen o
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Once again Roberto Bolaño has left me with awe. It is a simple story of a murder but with a twist and in great Bolaño style. Three different voices, three different versions. One body. And love. It's amazing how this writer can operate with popular themes and re-tell them with such virtuosity.
Still trying to figure out whether I liked this book. Very interesting narrative. Three men. Short first person chapters around the central place where a murder happens--the Skating Rink. Listened, the voices with three different men. Central pivot is the skater for whom the Skating Rink is built. But many other stories revolve. And in the end, though there is a murder, there isn't really a mystery or a resolution. I suspect I may listent again--or read. Intriguing to make sense of this very int ...more
Bolaño es uno de mis favoritos, pero este libro no es de mis favoritos de Bolaño. Quizá tenga algo que ver que se publicara el año 93, antes de que la escritura del chileno creciese hasta dar obras como "Los detectives salvajes". Se me ocurre catalogar "La pista de hielo" de embrionaria, pero tal vez sea fácil decirlo. Habré leído como una docena de libros del autor y es de los que más prescindibles me han parecido. No sé si mi opinión sería otra si lo hubiera leído de los primeros, claro.
Nicolas Nuckell
En La Pista de Hielo, tres personajes nos cuentan los hechos que ocurren alrededor de (como el título lo dice) una pista de hielo, su origen, lo que genera, y lo que acontece posteriormente sobre esta.

Esta novela debe ser sin duda una de las mas mediocres de Bolaño sin mas preámbulo, y aquí coincido con el escritor Carlos Franz, quien por el '99 tuvo que presentarla en Chile, y que finalmente le hizo el quite por considerarla una pésima obra, dando su opinión respecto de 'La Literatura Nazi en
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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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