Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles, and Speeches, 1998-2003
Bolaño wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of
his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. “Taken together,” as the
editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, they provide “a personal
cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his wri...more
More lists with this book...
Two of my favorite books over the last few months have been The Novel: An Alternative History: Beginnings to 1600 and Written Lives This collection is in a similar vein. These are prefaces, reviews, speeches and other observations herded together posthumously, though Bolano imagined this possibility, especially as began a weekly newspaper column which is also gathered here.
I took some fellow GRers advice and read str...more
I started this book back in June before setting it aside, disappointed, and wondering: WTF is going on here? I found it confused and confusing. Did he think exile was real or didn’t he? (He does, or he doesn’t, depending on how he defines exile—writers, on the other hand, seem to be immune to exile as writers can write anywhere they happen to be.)
The speeches which begin this volume were frantic, taking off on tangents, leaving me to wonder what the attendees must have th...more
From an article I found interesting in one of 2011's summer issues of The New Yorker I almost accidentally discovered the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño. I took a stab at reading his writing by purchasing the New Directions title Between Parenthesis which was highly touted as a great work which included articles, speeches, and essays Bolaño had given the world from 1998 to 2003, the year in which he died. One of many striking and thus remarkable discoveries...more
Reading Bolaño, the English-speaker has to be overwhelmed by the vast ocean of Latin American literature that is virtually invisible in the United States. But, as Bolaño points out, that's hardly a problem unique to North Amerrica: "which brings us to a problem even worse than being forgotten: the provincialism of the book market, which corrals and locks away Spanish-language literature, which, simply put, means that Chilean authors are only of interest in Chile, Mexican authors in Mexico, and...more
"... everything I've written is a love letter or a farewell letter to my generation, those of us who were born in the 1950s... ". --That would include me.
What he goes on to say is that they were fighting for certain causes and here he's really talking about the political turmoil of South America in the second half of the...more
'regrettably, Argentine literature today has three reference points. Two are public. The third is secret. All three are in some sense reactions against Borges. All three ultimately represent a step backward and are conservative, not revolutionary, although all three, or at least two of them, have set themselves up as leftist al...more
Not only a treasure trove of what to read, but a distillation of why to read (i.e. what literature does for us, or even better, what literature does _to_ us).
The typical Bolaño themes repeat, reiterate, redound: the abyss, the dark, ticking time bombs, courage, humor, survival, survivors, and of course literature, which is all of the above.
Here's a taste, from the se...more
“To be exiled is not to disappear but to shrink, to slowly or quickly get smaller and smaller until we reach our real height, the true height of the self. Swift, master of exile, knew this. For him exile was the secret word for journey. Many of the exiled, freighted with more suffering than reasons to leave, would reject this statement.
It's a bit schizophrenic at times. In the beginning of the book he essentially gives Aira a backhanded compliment but then praises him throughout most of the book. He also insults(I real...more
This is a collection of some speeches he gave on exile and literature and a bunch of random book reviews.
I didn't like it as much as actual work. One of things that draws me to Bolano is the way literature seems to fit so well into his life. He genuinely draws real joy out of the things he reads, and that carries over the people he meets. He's continuously throwing out these references that don't even exist... there's this fascination he has with the world aroun...more
"These pieces include sketches from a return visit to Bolaño's native Chile, short newspaper columns largely about books and authors, and glimpses of life with his family in Blanes, a Catalan seaside town. Tentatively compared to "a kind of fragmented autobiography" in Echevarría's introduction, the collection has obvious omissions as a memoir but does reflect Bolaño's multi-faceted, contradictory personality, by turns engaging and cantankerous, shy and ou...more
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.