By Night in Chile
by Roberto Bolano
The late Bolano gained an everlasting fan in me with the posthumous 2666, one of the great works of literature, centered in part on a novelist an unlikely assortment of characters become involved with, whether they know it or not. In its first section, a group of literary critics unite around an obscure European writer, and feel compelled to seek out, no matter how difficult, each of his published works. Well, I know the feeling, except Bolano is a South American writer. Rarely have I felt compelled to reach as much of the collected works of a writer as I can find (Melville is the only other example besides Dave Barry). By Night in Chile was the first of Bolano's works to receive an English translation, so it's fitting to be the first of his books after 2666 for me to read. I haven't yet completed my collection, but it's maybe halfway or better there, so not too bad on that score. This particular book is about a hundred fifty pages, one long paragraph, so I have to pick my spots as to when I'll be reading it, but naturally, I love what I've already found in the first few pages. He was a true master of literature, who understood his unique privilege and spent his fifty years adoring it, as few others have before or since. He also understood that it's a difficult live to attain, and how that's a shame, that so few people appreciate the written word, which is as true in 2011 as it was in 2003, when he died. This blog is in its own way a tribute to his enduring spirit, so it's fitting to find myself a fan of Roberto Bolano.