Olivia's Reviews > Antwerp

Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño
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's review
Mar 21, 2011

liked it
Read in February, 2011

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 greater than my scorn for marginal literature. But I believed in literature: or rather, I didn't believe in arrivisme or opportunism or or the whispering of sycophants. I did believe in vain gestures, I did believe in fate." (x [intro])

"It's absurd to see an enchanted princess in every girl who walks by. Who do you think you are, a troubadour?" (26)

"An urge, at the cost of nervous collapse in cheap rooms, propels poetry toward something that detectives call perfection." (32)

"Under the parched trees of August, I write to understand stillness, not to please." (53)

"I suppose all the movies I've seen will be worth nothing to me when I die. Wrong." (53)

"And I know longer ask for all the solitude in the world, but for time." (62)

"There's a secret sickness called Lisa. Like all sicknesses, it's miserable and it comes on at night." (69)

"That's the way it is, he said, a slight sense of failure that keeps growing stronger and the body gets used to it. You can't escape the void, just as you can't help crossing streets if you live in a city..." (71)

"56. Postscript
Of what is 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 by Leopardi that Daniel Biga recited on a Nordic bridge to gird himself with courage." (78)
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