kottke.org posts about Roberto Bolano

Jet lagApr 06 2009

Amalfitano had some rather idiosyncratic ideas about jet lag. They weren't consistent, so it might be an exaggeration to call them ideas. They were feelings. Make-believe ideas. As if he were looking out the window and forcing himself to see an extraterrestrial landscape He believed (or rather like to think he believed) that when a person was in Barcelona, the people living and present in Buenos Aires and Mexico City didn't exist. The time difference only masked their nonexistence. And so if you suddenly traveled to cities that, according to this theory, didn't exist or hadn't yet had time to put themselves together, the result was the phenomenon known as jet lag, which arose not from your exhaustion but from the exhaustion of the people who would still have been asleep if you hadn't traveled. This was something he'd probably read in some science fiction novel or story and that he'd forgotten having read.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño, page 189.

Update: From this post and its comments, it seems likely that the "science fiction novel or story and that he'd forgotten having read" was William Gibson's Pattern Recognition or Brian Fawcett's Soul Walker. From Pattern Recognition:

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

(thx, thessaly & michael)

A social danceApr 03 2009

Not believing your ears, though, thought Espinoza, is a form of exaggeration. You see something beautiful and you can't believe your eyes. Someone tells you something about... the natural beauty of Iceland... people bathing in thermal springs, among geysers... in fact you've seen it in pictures, but still you say you can't believe it... Although obviously you believe it... Exaggeration is a form of polite admiration... You set it up so the person you're talking to can say: it's true... And then you say: incredible. First you can't believe it and then you think it's incredible.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño, page 137.

New Roberto Bolano (again)Mar 10 2009

Two more new novels by Roberto Bolaño were recently found among his papers.

It follows the discovery of another novel, entitled The Third Reich, which was shown to publishers at the Frankfurt book fair in October. Publication of the books would add to the number of works by Bolaño due to appear over the next few years; the English translations of three novels and four collections of stories are already scheduled for the end of 2011.

I'm currently working my way through 2666 and enjoying it so far. (thx, david)

2666Nov 07 2008

2666

2666 is a novel written by Roberto Bolaño and published posthumously in Spanish in 2004. The English translation hits stores next Tuesday and the reviews couldn't be better, especially considering the book's 912 pages. From Jonathan Lethem's review in the NY Times Book Review, reprinted in the IHT:

"2666" is the permanently mysterious title of a Bolaño manuscript rescued from his desk after his passing, the primary effort of the last five years of his life. The book was published in Spanish in 2004 to tremendous acclaim, after what appears to have been a bit of dithering over Bolaño final intentions -- a small result of which is that its English translation has been bracketed by two faintly defensive statements justifying the book's present form. They needn't have bothered. "2666" is as consummate a performance as any 900-page novel dare hope to be: Bolaño won the race to the finish line in writing what he plainly intended as a master statement. Indeed, he produced not only a supreme capstone to his own vaulting ambition, but a landmark in what's possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world. "The Savage Detectives" looks positively hermetic beside it.

Lethem also compares a part of 2666 to Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which means, like, hey sign me up. (thx, matt)

Update: The Times has posted the original review by Lethem...looks like the IHT version was slightly abridged. Here's a missing comparison to Wallace's Infinite Jest:

By bringing scents of a Latin American culture more fitful, pop-savvy and suspicious of earthy machismo than that which it succeeds, Bolaño has been taken as a kind of reset button on our deplorably sporadic appetite for international writing, standing in relation to the generation of Garcia Márquez, Vargas Llosa and Fuentes as, say, David Foster Wallace does to Mailer, Updike and Roth. As with Wallace's "Infinite Jest," in "The Savage Detectives" Bolaño delivered a genuine epic inoculated against grandiosity by humane irony, vernacular wit and a hint of punk-rock self-effacement. Any suspicion that literary culture had rushed to sentimentalize an exotic figure of quasi martyrdom was overwhelmed by the intimacy and humor of a voice that earned its breadth line by line, defying traditional fictional form with a torrential insouciance.

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