Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003

Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003

Roberto Bolaño

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0811218147

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The essays of Roberto Bolano in English at last.

Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolano 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 writings, to a kind of fragmented ‘autobiography.’” Bolano’s career as a nonfiction writer began in 1998, the year he became famous overnight for The Savage Detectives; he was suddenly in demand for articles and speeches, and he took to this new vocation like a duck to water. Cantankerous, irreverent, and insufferably opinionated, Bolano also could be tender (about his family and favorite places) as well as a fierce advocate for his heroes (Borges, Cortázar, Parra) and his favorite contemporaries, whose books he read assiduously and promoted generously. A demanding critic, he declares that in his “ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior”: he argues for courage, and especially for bravery in the face of failure. Between Parentheses fully lives up to his own demands: “I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity at all levels.”

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sure, what has Ercilla lost in 1589, just five years before his death, but youth? And with his youth, the arduous journeys, the human experience of being exposed to the elements of an enormous and unknown continent, the long rides on horseback, the skirmishes with the Indians, the battles, the shadows of Lautaro and Caupolicán that, as time passes, loom large and speak to him, to Ercilla, the only poet and the only survivor of something that, when set down on paper, will be a poem, but that in

Many things, of course. The history of Latin America would be different. But on a basic level, I think everything would be the same, in Chile and in Latin America. It can be argued: there would be no disappeared. True. And there would be no caravan of death. Or firing squads. In Mexico, I met a Mirista who was tortured by having rats put into her vagina. She was a young girl, just a little older than me, which means she must have been twenty-two or twenty-three, and later I was told that she died

energy and unhappiness of youth, are linked to them: to their works, their words, cold mornings in District 5, the figure of Lola Paniagua vanishing into the night, the clouds of Baudelaire. MOSLEY A little while ago I read the latest novel by Walter Mosley (Gone Fishin’, Anagrama), Bill Clinton’s favorite thriller writer and the creator of the detective Easy Rawlins, a black man who isn’t really a detective but simply a black American, or an African-American, as the politically correct would

outside. When he was out of sight I thought of the invisible man, but a few seconds later, as I turned and went back into the bar, it hit me that Aspurúa wasn’t the type, and that in fact all his mannerisms, all his shyness, even his reserve, indicated a man who was fully conscious, maybe painfully conscious, of his visibility and the visibility of others. In this sense, I thought, though I thought this much later, maybe on the plane back to Spain, books — the books that he always read with such

inheritance. It has been a joy and a privilege for me to meet him. And that’s the end of this preface. I’ve always had a problem with Venezuela. A silly problem, fruit of my haphazard education, the most inconsequential of problems, but a problem nonetheless. At its heart, the problem is verbal and geographic. It’s also probably due to a kind of undiagnosed dyslexia. Though by this I don’t mean to say that my mother never took me to the doctor. In fact, until I was ten I was a frequent visitor

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