Friday, October 29, 2010

Roberto Bolano


Nazi Literature in the America's Lucid, insane, deadly serious & widly playful.

I feel that I should offer a warning to anyone  attempting to read this book in public, for example on the train to work, at work or at the hospital whilst waiting for an X-ray - Hide The Cover. Because if you don't, be prepared for the impolite stares, for the pointed questions & for the blank look  when you attempt to answer their questions.

This book is written in the form of a catalogue of writers, or to be more accurate right wing writers and supporters of the Nazi ideology, yet all the authors profiled here are entirely the work of Roberto Bolano's  literary imagination & it comes across as a homage to one of his favourite writers, Jorge Luis Borges. 

"Nazi Literature in the America's", is one clever S.O.B, with a sense of irony and a humour so dry it makes the Gobi desert seem like a waterfall. This encyclopaedia highlights the writer's lives and like most of Bolano's characters they seem to fail miserably, in fact, apart from a few who meet a violent end, the majority are merely self deluded individuals living lives full of frustration - literary or otherwise. In fact, Bolano takes great delight in informing us of every detail of the lives of these literary midgets, not sparing us from any crime or foul deed, and yet it's done in such a cultured manor, with such a professorial detachment, that you realise, regardless of the writers political leaning, at the end of the day they all (or almost all) are pointless. Whatever teeth they may have possessed, have long been pulled. Through out this anthology, we learn of the lives of this collection of writers from across America, of their persistence & determination to create a body of work regardless of the fact that for the most part, it goes unread, unreviewed & by most of the world about them, unnoticed.

This is one strange little book full of characters whose heinous natures have no redeeming factors, individuals such as Willy Schurholz an experimental poet, who traced the outline of what he considered the ideal concentration camp in the desert sands, Thomas. R . Murchison, founder of the Aryan brotherhood & the most infamous of them all Carlos Ramirez Hoffman, poet, skywriter, self publicist and assassin for the Pinochet regime. This story is the last in the catalogue & drastically changes the tone of the collection, in this tale, written in the form of a search for the assassin by a fellow writer (called Bolano), this story was later expanded into a novel (short) called Distant Star.

Although this tome is probably his most explicit concerning the complicit nature of the literary establishment and authority in Latin America, a frequent theme throughout his oeuvre, it also explores another theme familiar to fans of Bolano's work, because regardless of our opinion of the characters in this book, they still hold up that Bolano flag - that literature matters and as an amoral energy constantly reinvigorates & reinvents itself & it's role within a culture.


Roberto Bolano(Wikipedia)

This is a good link for all things Bolano - In lieu of a field guide


Anonymous said...

As much as I hate Nazis, this book looks interesting, if for nothing else that to point out what a bunch of idiots follow the ideology.

Anonymous said...

I felt nsame when reading it myself ,always feel this is nearest he gets of the ones I ve read to Borges ,a wonderfully clever book ,all the best stu

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Man of LA, Although Bolano's imaginary writers are all extreme right wing, it's not the point of the book (which is strange, I know). It's just the vehicle he uses to take the reader around his familiar haunts. thanks for the comment.
Hi Stu, yes it's almost a direct pointer, to one of his heroes, cleverly written & the last tale is wonderfully expanded in "Distant Star".

Mel u said...

I agree completely that this is a very clever, very creative book-it is also very funny-I enjoyed reliving the book through your excellent post

Anonymous said...

Oops, I missed the whole imaginary writers tidbit.


Rise said...

"a sense of irony and a humour so dry it makes the Gobi desert seem like a waterfall"

That metaphor seems to have come straight out of the Bolanian world.

Like mel, your great review relives the imaginative book for me.

Eileen said...

""a sense of irony and a humour so dry it makes the Gobi desert seem like a waterfall"

That is the best description I've ever seen of Bolano's style in this particular book. My favorite line was at the end of one of the earlier entries, when the Nazi writer in question crashes into a gas station: "The explosion was considerable."

Jessica said...

I dont think Ive ever seen a more appropreate book to read on a kindle LOL sounds interesting.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Mel U, yes this is a very funny book. thanks.
Rise, thanks for the comment oh & for the link to your references.
E.l.fay, this book is full of fantastic lines isn't it.
Hi Jessica, yes this is one of those books, that make me question my lack of a Kindle (Still trying to justify one, altho' my list of reasons to own one, is growing).

Mel u said...

To me this book shows just how creative and inventive Bolano was-great review