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, March 28, 2018

Distant Star by Roberto Bolano, 1996, translated 2004 by Chris Andrews

Born 1953 Santiago, Chile

Died 2003 Blanes, Spain

Nazi Literature in the Americas, 1996

Savage Detectives, 1998

2666, 2004

Roberto Bolano is a hugely influential writer.  His two most famous novels, Savage Detectives and 2666 might well, after the dust of a couple of decades settles, becomes standards on Hundred Greatest Novels of the 20th Century lists.

My first exposure to Bolano was Savage Detectives, focusing on a highly inbred group of young Mexico City poets.  Full of disturbing imagery and misogynistic sexual elements, it captured the chaos of a huge Mega City.  Then came 2666, I read it around ten years ago, one time, and much is in my mind as if I read it yesterday.  It is very much a novel of the reading Life cantered around a decade plus string of murders of hundreds of women in the border city 

of Juarez Mexico.  Many writers today have been heavily influenced by 2666.  Then I read a book, much shorter, I really loved, you cannot love 2666 or Savage Detectives, they are just to overwhelming, Nazi Literature in the Americas.  This is written as if it were an learned treatise on fascist writers in North and South America.  Maybe  it reads as if Voltaire after a very long Mescal driven Month in Juarez might have written this.

Distant Star is an expansion of a chapter in Nazi Literature of the Americas, “The Infamous Ramirez-Hoffman”.  Hoffman was an aviator who took the occasion of the 1973 

Coup d’ état to start his own version of The New Chilean Poetry Movement.  In this he combined verse, sky-writing, torture, photography, and murder to create art.  Later in the novel he joins the Chilean Airforce and flys a Messerschmitt over the Andes.  Our narrator, deeply obsessed with Ramirez-Hoffman, winds up in a prison camp for political undesirables.  Upon release he cannot escape his obsession.  Ramirez-Hoffman has become a cult 
celebrity  for his work in underground fascist publications.  

Distant Star is a very entertaining book.  It is really more the story of a poet obsessed with another poet than just the poet.

First you must read Nazi Literature in the Americas.  I actually recommend this as your initiation into Bolano.  Then read the big books.  Maybe Distant Star should come fourth

Mel u

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