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Amulet

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,381 ratings  ·  521 reviews
Amulet is a monologue, like Bolano's acclaimed debut in English, By Night in Chile. The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman who moved to Mexico in the 1960s, becoming the "Mother of Mexican Poetry," hanging out with the young poets in the cafes and bars of the University. She's tall, thin,brand blonde, and her favorite young poet in the 1970s is none other than ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 29th 2007 by New Directions (first published 1999)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  5,381 ratings  ·  521 reviews


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s.penkevich
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bathroom wall graffitiers
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Ian "Marvin" Graye
History is like a horror story.

The student youth of Mexico raised their fists in protest during the summer and fall of 1968, marching against the government towards the violent climax of the Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2nd. Student demonstrations were organized in response to the killings of several students by the police called in to repress a fight between gang members of two rival schools—the Mexican National Autonomous University (UNAM) and National Politechnical Institute (IPN)—and were
...more
Chris_P
Roberto Bolano – Amulet
Wait while I’m trying to dry myself after this dive into a sea of words. A sea in which you’re in and which is in you at the same time. A sea sometimes calm (but never too calm) and other times swirling with fluctuating intensity, roaring and crashing, never allowing even a glimpse of land. Reading Amulet is like taking a nauseous, dreamy ride on a rollercoaster with a bottle of vodka in your hand. The narrator calls herself the mother of Mexican poetry. To me, she is a sy
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
When Only a Wedge Will Do

I read this because I’m a lazy cheapskate.

I bought it for $5 (reduced from $50) in a recent Borders sale.

But I was looking for a relatively short wedgie between larger undertakings, the next of which will be Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84”.

At 184 pages, it’s more of a novella than a novel (although I’ve never really understood or cared much for the distinction).

What’s important for me is how much the author put into those pages and how much we the readers get out of them.

As I w
...more
Fabian
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
"This story breaks away from its box."

Roberto Bolaño destroys the reader’s preexisting expectations, as what the reader sees is rarely what he gets. I’ve only previously read "Los Detectives Salvajes" before, and was immediately happy to see that this was an extension of that novel, or, more accurately, it works as a companion piece. I love this kind of stuff! Complimentary works are... extremely difficult to pull off, as one bad novel might pollute the other one. (Take for instance the Hanniba
...more
Lynne King
“I am in the women’s bathroom in the faculty building and I can see the future, I said, in a soprano voice, as if I were being coy.

I know that said the dreamy voice, I know that. You start making your prophecies and I’ll note them down.”

I found this book very difficult to come to terms with at times which is based around the year 1968 in Mexico City, be it the future, the past or the present which are all thrown in for good measure to confuse a poor literary individual such as myself.

The narrato
...more
Greg
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I want to give this book five stars, but since I didn't give Savage Detectives or 2666 five stars I feel it's only fitting to give this four stars.

A lot of people gush about Bolano, so much that it's enough to turn off other people from him. That said, there are quite a few people who really dislike Bolano mostly because hipster's and others were all over him (but were they really? It seems to me like Bolano-mania is over and now it's safe to come out and read his work in peace, but I could be
...more
Barry Pierce
When I read the blurb of this novel I laughed. "This is so Bolaño," I thought.

A woman recounts her colourful life in Mexico but... she's telling us all this whilst hiding from members of a right-wing army who have just invaded the university in which she works. Is that Bolaño enough for you?

This might be one of my favourite Bolaño novels. The prose is near lucid but doesn't fall into any of the traps that Monsieur Pain did and is just short enough to keep your attention through any of the more
...more
Edward
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is going to be a horror story. A story of murder, detection and horror. But it won't appear to be, for the simple reason that I am the teller. Told by me, it won't seem like that. Although, in fact, it's the story of a terrible crime.


I do not know enough about Mexican history to really grasp the "terrible crime" that is the focus of this story, or its implications on the Mexican memory (though I have read a little since finishing the book). Amulet is an attempt to come to terms with this
...more
Tanuj Solanki
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Desire of the Hysteric

"And although the song that I heard was about war, about the heroic deeds of a whole generation of young Latin Americans led to sacrifice, I knew that above and beyond all, it was about courage and mirrors, desire and pleasure."

These are lines from the last page of Bolano's novel, containing in them one of the many keys for reading this masterpiece, a masterpiece that hovers between confusion, terror, and poetry.

Eli Evans in Bookslut rightly argues that Latin America or
...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
"And although the song that I heard was about war, about the heroic deeds of a whole generation of Latin Americans led to sacrifice, I knew that above and beyond all, it was about courage and mirrors, desire and pleasure. And that song is our amulet."


The writing for this book is absolutely beautiful, that is honestly the top thing that sticks with me. The whole book is so beautifully written I wish I spoke Spanish to read it in its original form.

I'm so glad I read this twice because it was muc
...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chilean
Talking About Novels as a Way of Writing After the Novel

This book really stays in your mind! I hadn't thought I would write a review, because Bolano is the Latin American author du jour in North America. But this novel has genuine staying power. The central image -- a woman cowering in the women's room on the fourth floor of the Philosophy and Literature building in UNAM in Mexico City during the police incursion -- is itself very memorable, but really it's her inner monologues, dreams, and hall
...more
Lee Klein
Dec 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Realized I hadn't yet read this although I've had it for years in part because the year "2666" is mentioned in this novel, not 2666. Toward the end, a few pages of twisted prophecies appear that reveal the years in which famous writers are reincarnated and/or lose their last reader in the 21st century (eg, Kafka in 2046). Many exemplary Bolano bits, including the answer to the question "how was Che Guevara in bed?" But in general it reminded me why I put down "The Savage Detectives" a few years ...more
Ade Bailey
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A wonderful long short story which captures the nature of dreams by compression, displacement of images, time slippages and identity shifts, most of all by metaphors in the broadest sense - those that clash and compound separate discourses, or confound, all disturbing historical stability. That the 'dream' expands from the tiles and watery sounds of a ladies' toilet in a university department of philosophy and literature adds via its literal banality (although the tiles are also hieroglyphs)to a ...more
Read By RodKelly
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
One of my favorite Bolaño novels thusfar. A profoundly haunting meditation on Latin American courage and madness; a memoir of a soul's deconstruction, post-trauma; and an extended metaphor for resilience, resistance, and survival, coupled with the horrors found therein.
Nick
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Doug H - On Hiatus
If you dislike full stream stream-of-consciousness writing, you will probably dislike this. If you dislike eccentric follow-your-own-path Jane Bowles-type characters, you will probably dislike this. Even if you do like such things, you might still dislike this.

Me? Sometimes I laughed out loud at the unedited mind of the half-crazy, half-homeless, half-toothless first person POV narrator. At other times I scratched my chin at the uber-surrealistic content. Mostly, I went with the flow and mostly
...more
Megha Chakraborty
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A friend suggested me to read this, and I am very glad he did, Amulet is a haunting novel, confusing and hard to put down.
In "Amulet", Bolaño gives the reader a view of the world of South American poetry, and the poetry scene in Mexico City, over a period spanning the 1960s and 70s. The narrator is a lover of poetry who has devoted her life to being near the poets whose work she loves, and the young poets whose energy, enthusiasm and freedom of thought touch her. The writing is surreal and jump
...more
Jessica
I am getting increasingly pissed off about Roberto Bolaño being dead.
Eugene
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
bolano's characters are some of the most beautiful. they miraculously avoid sentimentality while achieving a too-beautiful-to-speak-of romanticism -- though reducing them so is an error, that quality he gets really does tear me up...

his characters remind me of the vow of poverty monastics make. it isn't a negative vow--at least not for the nun. it is in fact a positive one, one that moves the renunciate closer to the divine. bolano's poets and losers and mothers are an equal type. and one way t
...more
Ritesh Kukrety
"This is going to be a horror story. A story of murder, detection and horror. But it won't appear to be, for the simple reason that I am the teller. Told by me, it won't seem like that. Although, in fact, it's the story of a terrible crime."

Robert Bolano's Amulet starts on this curiously ominous note. A recollection of Latin American history, its literature, and its people in the violent and turbulent decades between 1960 and 1980 could have been bitter and horrific and cynical, but it isn't. A
...more
Maya Panika
This book was a shining example of everything I love least about Latin American Literature. A florid, OTT, self-consciously ‘poetic’ style; the navel-gazings of ‘The Mother of Mexican Poetry’ as she sits trapped in the women’s lavatories during the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre.

There’s everything you’d expect in a book of this kind: rose-tinted politics, the romanticised lauding of poets and poverty, a deal of obscure name-dropping (to show how intellectual the narrator is) and a fantasticall
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 2666
Still an enjoyable read. It's just that I enjoyed his thicker books more.

This is about a woman whose name is that of a man's, Auxilio Lacouture who gets trapped for 12 days inside a toilet. That was the day when the Mexican authorities began their crackdown on poets because of their illegal organization. I did not understand the whole story of how come their organization became illegal and what those poor poets have done to deserve their punishments but I think that was beside the point. The who
...more
Scoobs
Oct 14, 2007 rated it liked it
only 3 stars, but still worth the read.
the book is auxilio's (the mother of mexican poetry) reflection on her past and her future and i guess her present, in mexico in the 60's. all while holed up in a bathroom in a school that has been invaded and closed down by the mexican army. from the opening sentence i thought the book was going in a different direction than it actually did. expected more out of the book, but was still pleased with where it lead me.

there is something about Bolano and his
...more
Hind
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn’t have been described better on the cover: “semi-hallucinatory” captures the feeling of this book perfectly. The narrative is anything but cohesive, yet you can’t help but read on. My first Bolaño read and I can’t wait for the rest to come.
Seth T.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a formalistic excursion, Amulet veers toward abstraction. Bolaño's apocalyptic pericopae within a singular pericope reminds me of Ishiguro's The Unconsoled in its happy willingness to throttle time and narrative senseless for the sake of its own greater mysteries. Only, at least, Bolaño makes his readers well-aware of this through his heroine's nagging reminders.

Auxilio, whose name is a plea for salvation—for assistance, for redemption, for a crutch, for help— is the figurative mother of Me
...more
Karlo Mikhail
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Amulet is my third book by Roberto Bolano after Nazi Literature in the Americas and Third Reich, all first-rate fiction from a now very popular Latin American writer. After reading Amulet, I truly understand why Bolano has been very popular among the literary-minded in the last decade. His books are filled with poets, fictionists, literary admirers, academics, and the like, both living and dead, both historical and fictional.

Amulet follows in this vein by presenting the sometimes sober and some
...more
Rachel
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amulet is about the events at UNAM in 1968 that led to the Tlatelolco massacre. It is the first of the shorter Bolanos I have read and while it is no The Savages Detectives to me, I enjoyed reading him in a more condensed form as well. The story is told by Auxilio Lacouture, who was trapped in a bathroom at the University during the occupation (this story is mentioned in The Savage Detectives). This lends Auxilio a degree of notoriety and it becomes a pivotal point in her life. Time collapses on ...more
Andrew
A short, rather dreamy novel set in the same universe as The Savage Detectives, with a trippy, wonderful ending that doesn't make up for the lackluster remainder. This would be great as part of one of Bolano's longer-form works, and it is suspiciously similar to passages of The Savage Detectives – although you could probably shoehorn it into 2666 as well. It's not bad, at all, but Bolano can do better and has done better.

Also, my literary detective skills tell me that this thing was actually tra
...more
Alex V.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I cannot stop reading Bolaño's books, expecting to hit a wall, but just as the wall approaches, it dissolves into mist. Amulet is similar to By Night in Chile in that it is a delirious narcissistic dream rant from a sideline player in a heady cultural climate. The narrator here is a woman hiding in a fourth floor bathroom as troops occupy a university. It's unclear if the tale that unfolds is a memoir, a mad fantasy, or a brief endorphin supernova at the moment of death; in the hands of this wri ...more
Linda Abhors the New GR Design
First of all, this is the second of Bolaños books that Ive read¡ a sort of disclaimer, if you will. The first, Ëstrella distante, surprised me in much the same way that this one did: a first-person narration in a colloquial tone can fool you into thinking that this is an easy read. While just as political, this one is much more complicated in its style. The prose in this novel is much more lyrical than in Estrella, but then, Bolaño was a poet first. The jacket blurb sells it as the story of a cr ...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.

H
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