Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano (2002, 128 pages, to be published in translation September, 2014)

Roberto Bolano (1953 to 2003, Chile) has already joined the literary canon.  Of his work I have read 2666, Savage Detectives, A Night in Chile, Nazi Literature in the Americas and several of his short stories.  I recommend those new to Bolano take the plunge first into 2666 then proceed to Savage Detectives.  Both of these are long challenging works with lots of violence and sex and may be too harsh for some sensibilities but they are culturally very important.  When Bolano died in 2003 he left behind a lot of not yet translated into English works.  I was kindly given an advance review copy of Natasha Weimer's translation of one of his early works (2002) A Little Lumpen Novelita.

As this set in Rome work opens, a young woman and her brother are living marginally in a low end apartment.  She tells the story.  Their parents, they are in I guess early to middle twenties, were recently killed in a car crash and this hangs over them.  They both have jobs and they get by through pooling their money.  One day the brother brings home to men, they seem kind of like thugs, this is Bolano so they have read some poetry, they move in and the brother quits his job.  Now supporting the three men, she has intermittent sex with the visitors, she wonders if she will need to do prostituition.  She ends up periodically servicing and spending time with an ex movie director, now blind.  Her brother wants her to find where in his mansion the man keeps his safe.  We see her ambivalence about being paid for sex which spills over into company also, her sort of feelings for the man and her frustration over not finding the safe.  I don't want to tell to much of the close but she ends up turning on the two visitors and her sex client.

I would say read this after you have read the main works and Nazi Literature in the Americas. Unless you want to read all his fiction, you could survive without spending $14.95 for this.  To me that is too much for a 128 page book.

Mel u

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