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The Insufferable Gaucho

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,105 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Roberto Bolaño's place as a giant of Latin American literature was confirmed by the publication of his posthumous masterpiece , 2666. The Insufferable Gaucho was the last book he prepared for publication before he died in 2003.

Unpredictable and daring, highly controlled and yet somehow haywire, the five short stories included here are some of Bolaño's best. Wether they con
Paperback, 164 pages
Published 2015 by Picador (first published April 2003)
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,105 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Steven Godin
Picked up for next to nothing at a used book store. And to be honest, paying full price for this would have been madness. Not his best work. But, as a fan, still read with much interest. He might pay homage to Borges and Kafka, but his melancholic short stories featured in 'Last Evenings on Earth' were far and away superior.

Featured in this collection -

Jim - 3/5
The Insufferable Gaucho - 4/5
Police Rat - 2/5
Alvaro Rousselot's Journey - 4/5
Two Catholic Tales - 2/5

Mike Puma
The Insufferable Gaucho is a mix of fiction (five short stories) and two essays which revisit themes, implicitly and explicitly, from Bolaño’s most ambitious novels, 2666 and The Savage Detectives

The Short Stories:
Jim—on the surface, a very short story about a troubled Vietnam veteran living the life of a poet in Mexico. Its brevity speaks to the question: What can we know about other people—their demons? The story will almost necessarily remind readers of The Savage Detectives and the character
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer watching the great masters do real combat, deploying torrential imperfect trailblazers against the eternity cemetery always opening under our feet -- and it's been a while since I've watched this great master spar (ie, since I've read one of his shorter titles) but these four stories plus one quickie plus two essays seemed at least like a worthwhile prize fight. The book itself is a perfectly weighted and formatted hardback of a ringside seat, replete with burgundy boards. Inside its re ...more
Barry Pierce
This is very much a so-so collection from Bolaño. The fiction stories didn’t do anything for me, which is strange because I’ve always enjoyed Bolaño's strange view of the world. However, the end of this collection contains two non-fiction essays which are absolute sensations. Literature + Illness = Illness is a non-fiction collection of vignettes in which Bolaño discusses his life with the cancer that will eventually kill him. A stark piece which gives a pared back view into his mind and his ins ...more
M. Sarki
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who care about living and dying
Recommended to M. by: luck
Shelves: 5-star-wonders
Another book I thoroughly enjoyed almost top to bottom. Except I read it for the most part backwards as I prefer essays to short stories, but who can tell the difference sometimes? As much as I enjoyed Roberto Bolaño's latest book of essays Between Parentheses this book flat knocked me out. Except for Police Rat, and Two Catholic Tales, all the rest of the stories and essays were nothing short of fantastic. It is a sad day when you find somebody as gifted as Roberto Bolaño was and he seems to up ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was never a Bolano aficionado. Yes, Last Evenings on Earth was mesmerizing and like nothing I had read before, and though eager in purchasing his mammoth works at discounted prices, I have never felt like indulging. There is a block in my head about Bolano, about his ever-ready referential slips, about the rebellious poets who populate his stories, about pages over pages of criticism of other writers (Chilean or otherwise). I have never been able to relate. Like in one of the stories in this c ...more
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
Roberto Bolano's The Insufferable Gaucho really does read like the declarations of a dying man. One declaration in particular rings especially true.

"These are dark times we live in, but let me begin with a buoyant declaration. Literature in Spanish is in excellent condition! Magnificent, superlative condition!"

Yes, it is, with Bolano being an important literary voice.

In the novel, Bolano remembers the final paragraphs of Borges's story The South.

"He sensed that had he been able to choose or dr
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the first book by bolano that i have read,even though i own both the savage detectives and 2666, and i really liked it, which is quite surprising, because i don't generally enjoy short stories. they almost always seem to go nowhere and not have a proper ending. i'm always thinking what happens next?

but i didn't find that to be the case with this book, which contains 5 short stories and 2 short essays.they all seemed complete in themselves to me, even the first one, jim, which is only 3 p
Cooper Renner
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read 7 or 8 of Bolano's books--though neither of the doorstops--and find myself generally disappointed. This collection of stories and essays, however, is quite good, except for the tedious story "Police Rat." I would rank it second only to Monsieur Pain, which I found quite interesting. The title story here is almost a bourgeois version of Borges, and the essay Myths of Cthulhu is a fascinating commentary on authorship and celebrity, as pertinent to the US as to Latin America.
The first of Bolaño's posthumous publications, that so far amount to a good chunk of his body of work, the only one that he managed to complete during his lifetime (depending on whether you consider 2666 to be completed or not). It suffers, however, from the most obvious issues of posthumous works: at times it feels like an editor putting together random writings until having a book-length manuscript. It is weirdly structured and the jump from short stories to lectures is disconnected.

Having sai
First foray into the work of Roberto Bolaño, and I'm very pleased. While I don't think this book necessarily qualifies Bolaño for inclusion among the greatest Latin American writers canon (Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, Julio Cortazar, et al), their work is really present in his, and that's a good sign. Something that's always drawn me to Latin American literature is the powerful sense of past and future contained within. It's not simply paying homage ...more
a brief collection, the insufferable gaucho consists of five short stories and a pair of essays. both the title story and "alvaro rousselot's journey" appeared in the new yorker in 2007, shortly after the savage detectives first exposed most u.s. readers to the late chilean's literary prowess. the book's lead story, "jim," is only three pages long, yet portrays a character that would have been at home in nearly any of bolaño's longer works. "rat police" is the collection's most interesting piece ...more
Madeleine Ceder
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The insufferable guancho contains exceptionally personal reflections on illness, the mandatory rant on literature, a couple of stories about people pondering their place in the the world, and one about a police rat (one of my favorite shorts ever). Overall it was a lovely read and reminder that there is no place I’d rather be than in the literary world of Bolaño.
Peter McCambridge
My first Bolaño. So did I like it? Yeah, it was good. 3 stars. Are these short stories New Yorker quality, approximately a million times better than all those other short stories I've read this year? Definitely. 5 stars. Would I bring this book to a desert island? No way. 4 stars, maybe 3.5. It's all very scientific. Must read more Bolaño, though.
Joe Kraus
When I think of Bolano, whose 2666 is deservedly recognized as one of the recent world classics, I think of bulk. 2666 and The Savage Detectives find their themes – generally a kind of disintegration of culture as the bulwark between modern society and the beasts we humans are always threatening to become – over vast tomes. There’s something concussive about his best-known work, something that makes its point by slowly strangling the resistance out of you.

So, it’s strange to read Bolano’s short
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is kind of a hodgepodge collection, five short stories and two essays. The title piece and longest story doesn't feel like anything else Bolano ever wrote: its got a weirdly pastoral, homey quality to it as we watch an Argentine judge return to the village of his youth following an economic collapse. It's not bad, but it's not really a style that plays to Bolano's strengths. The stories here mostly feel redundant, like weaker variations of things he's done better in his other work.

BUT. The
Allan MacDonell
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realize I am far from alone in my love of Roberto Bolaño. The five short stories and two essays collected in The Insufferable Gaucho, in common with everything else I’ve read from this natural born expatriate, provide so much solace, companionship and validation that they make me want to be a writer too, a good one. Again, I presume I’m far from alone in that reaction. I further presume that Bolaño has spawned far fewer insufferable writers than have been activated by some of the other authors ...more
Neil Randall
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Insufferable Gaucho is a collection featuring five (longish) short stories and two essays - all of which contain some fantastic writing and all the hallmarks you'd expect from Balano. Of the short stories in the collection, two in particular stood out to me as wonderful examples of what the short story is truly capable of - dark, imaginative, narratives that truly take the reader to another time and place. Firstly, Police Rat, the story of a rat in a connecting channel of sewers investigatin ...more
Eliz Manandhar
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is stuff-of-genius as Bolano starts off with a handsomely moody, almost elegiac, and very melancholic ode in 'Jim' before moving onto the raving brilliance of a floundering intellectual in 'The Insufferable Gaucho'. 'Police Rat' comes across as a hip horror-noir cum social commentary and is a wicked-little-treat to the readers and is hands-down the most entertaining piece in the compilation. Artistic pretensions and revelations pave way to an almost autobiographical-styled stuff of fancy in ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another beautiful collection by Bolaño, this one including two essays, one, dedicated to his hepatologist, on (terminal) illness, the other on Spanish literature. The title story is an allegory about Argentinean politics, and the book as a whole--typical for Bolaño--are studies, meditations, and anecdotes on sex, death, politics, violence, terror, and joy. Told with Bolaño's floating style that seems simultaneously to be about everything and nothing. Chris Andrews's translation is impeccable, as ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seven pieces - 5 stories and 2 essays - by a "mythical" writer. The title story is a homage to a story by Borges. It's a posthumous collection but the stories are living stories, not dead, though they are often inhabited by zombies, or I should say zombie-like characters. I loved it. But then I'm partial to everything Bolañese. I think it's fortunate for me to have read this book in the same month as Pedro Páramo . Otherwise I wouldn't have recognized the allusions to that book.
Chris M
I give this 3 stars because I thought the title story, Insufferable Gaucho, was great. Funny and sad. A story inspired by Borges' 'The South', a perfect short story.
But the book as a whole: meh.
Nothing else stood out to me.
All you have to do is read Bolano's Insufferable Gaucho online and you're happy.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bolano finally hits the stride of his best novels in short bursts. It takes balls to write a follow up to kafka and for my money he actually tops Josephine and the mouse people here; I got that classic bolano dread
Tom Andes
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I liked it, even though they crammed two essay in at the end, just to up the page count and make it look like they're not cashing in hardcore on the Bolano phenomenon. "Police Rat" is a great story, though.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Stories were good. Liked the cliffhangers that end many of his stories. The story is never quite finished and allows the reader to draw their own conlcusions.

The essays, not so much. After giving the first the ole college try, I skimmed the rest. Don't really feel like I missed out on much.

Would like to read another collection of stories to compare, but not high on my priority list.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the essay "Literature + Illness = Illness", that Roberto Bolano wrote knowing he will not survive his illness, Bolano says "...every book we read and every act of carnal knowledge is a repetition...". It follows that you cannot write more than one book (or make more than one film). The best artists work towards their magnum opus all their lives (I am thinking of Tarkovsky and Bolano here). That, of course, is delightful for a completionist like me - these are the artists who make reading ever ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Bolano's reputation is a little hampered by his status on mainstream reading lists, this is a pretty good collection from the Chilean academic / poet from 2003, nicely printed and lettered. The most memorable for me is the first story where civil war causes a respectable old judge to reconnect with his impoverished roots and become some kind of bizarre feral outlaw. Ever since Life of Pi went mainstream the use of anthropomorphism in order to discuss poverty and civil rights abuses has lo ...more
Tristan Cordelia
Police Rat is a cool story, but the other entries in this volume (and, from what I've heard, Bolano's two major novels) are mystery fictions about fictions and authors - the sort of thing I loved as an undergrad but which doesn't really get my juices going these days, and as far as I can tell so far, he's not as good at that shtick as Eco, so, meh. That said, I do recommend Police Rat, and I still love the opening pararaph in his short story The Return (not in this volume), one of the coolest op ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vintage Bolano. A grotesque and hilariously heartbreaking read at times, especially the short-story "Police Rat" a macabre story of an inspector rat searching for the perpetrator of various sewer rat crimes. The title story too is very sad, a story of defeat in search of hope in spite of dire circumstances and a changing society that's unappreciative of honesty and hard work. Second Bolano I read in a row next to "The Skating Rink". Before the summer is over, I expect to be finished with "The Sa ...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.

“If you're going to say what you want to say, you're going to hear what you don't want to hear.” 431 likes
“Los libros son finitos, los encuentros sexuales son finitos, pero el deseo de leer y de follar es infinito, sobrepasa nuestra propia muerte, nuestros miedos, nuestras esperanzas de paz.” 27 likes
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