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By Night in Chile Paperback – December, 2003
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In a brief but densely packed 130 pages, Bolano takes the voice of Fr. Urrutia who on his deathbed tries to organize the chaotic thoughts that have represented his life before he enters the ultimate climax of death. We learn of his childhood as a poor boy who longed to be a poet, his conversion to the priesthood, his contribution to the literary world of not only his own poems but literary criticism or other writers, and his rather bizarre ramblings of this life adventures - his 'assignment' to unravel the workings of the Opus Dei (with an hilarious metaphor of each church throughout Europe training a falcon to destroy the pigeons in order to keep the buildings free of pigeon excrement only to realize they were destroying the universal symbol of the Holy Spirit!), his conversations with the Chilean critic Farewell, meetings with Pablo Neruda, and his assignment to teach Marxism to Pinochet and the Junta after the fall of Allende, and more. All of this glowing stream of conscience is delivered in words and phrases that stand with the finest of writers - James Joyce, ee cumings, Ezra Pound, Neruda, Marquez - but at the same time they retain flavor which makes them uniquely Chilean. "...Read more ›
Fr. Sebastian is ordained an Opus Dei priest at the age of 14, at which time there isn't much of a struggle at all. In fact, Fr. Sebastian is happy to bury the memories of his unpleasant childhood; and is filled with "immaculate hopes" about his future as the protégé of the finest literary critic in Santiago, Farewell. Like so many others who join Opus Dei at an impressionable age, Fr.Read more ›
This is one of the major short comings, imho, of South American literature in general. While well written in a stylistic sense (the translation seems quite good--it flows very smoothly and poetically at times), this book portrays ideas more than lives. Surely anyone who lived through the Pinochet regime would find this book of interest, but I would have much rather read about the effect of this oppressive regime on the lives of real Chileans, than on the life of a literary critic. Writers have lives too, and Bolano may have realized the shortcomings of his one character when he says toward the end of this short novel than there are other things in life beyond reading and writing.
There were good moments. I enjoyed the padre's trip to Europe, studying the effect of centuries of pigeons lodging on the churches of Europe. A nice bit of surrealistic criticism of the preoccupations of the Catholic church in the face of regimes like Pinochet's. The literary salon run by Maria Canales, housed over her husband's torture chamber was equally piquant. I believe that Fr. Urrutia was the "father" of Maria's elder son, who looks like him and is also named Sebastian, rather than homosexual. Here I saw the germs of a real novelistic talent. Perhaps Bolano goes into such real human situations in greater depth in his later and longer works.
For political attitude, I give this writer not five but six stars. I could not have agreed with his outlook more. For craft he gets five stars. The short work is well written.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bolano uses the first person narrative of a dying priest as a framework for his colorful and profound images. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jack Manning
Note: Dozens of readers have posted their thoughts about "By Night in Chile" on Amazon's main product page for this book, here: By Night in Chile. Read morePublished on January 6, 2014 by Michael J. Ettner
This book is a reminder of the horrors of corrupt dictators and man's inhumanity to man. Bolano does an excellent job of recalling those dreadful times.Published on December 23, 2013 by Jane B. Austen
It helps that I am married to a Chilean, because you really need to know a little of the historical background of Chile. Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by Amazon Customer
The first pages interested me but not too much. This lack of interest was intensified by the multitude of characters, mosly poets, that were introduced in the first few pages and... Read morePublished on September 3, 2013 by carmen mcculloch
Bolano's great novel is a wave on the seashore, stirring hundreds of metres out, disappearing, and then reappearing as a giant body of power, breaking with a force that will drag... Read morePublished on August 29, 2013 by Nigel Kirk