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Last Evenings on Earth Paperback – April 30, 2007

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Last Evenings on Earth + By Night in Chile + Distant Star
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (April 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216883
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chilean Bolaño (1953–2003) wrote 10 novels (including Distant Star, published to acclaim last year), books of poems and two story collections before this one. These 14 bleakly luminous stories are all told in the first person by men (usually young) who yearn for something just out of their grasp (fame, talent, love) and who harbor few hopes of attaining what they desire. New Yorker readers may remember two selections: "Gómez Palacio," concerning the grimly uneventful encounter of a Mexico City writer with the woman who directs the backwater writing program where he comes to teach, and the title story, set in 1975, in which a young Mexico City man and his father vacation in Acapulco—a trip their relationship is not strong enough to survive. The stories are similar, in theme and voice (though not in locale), and they are perfectly calibrated: Bolaño limns the capacity of a voice to carry despair without shading into bitterness. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction.” (Wayne Kostenbaum - Bookforum)

“The most influential and admired novelist of his generation in the Spanish-speaking world.” (Susan Sontag)

“Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms.” (Andersen Tepper - Village Voice)

“Brilliant.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Widely known in the Spanish-speaking world as the premier writer of his generation.” (Dan Pope - Hartford Courant)

“If you haven't heard of Roberto Bolaño yet, you will soon.” (Benjamin Lytal - The New York Sun)

“Bolaño's characters yearn for amnesia as well as for the ability to connect to someone or something in the present.” (Stephanie Hanson - Los Angeles Times)

“[B]leakly luminous stories...” (Publishers Weekly)

“His generation's premier Latin-American writer... Bolaño's reputation and legend are in meteoric ascent.” (Larry Rohter - The New York Times)

“Conjures dreamlike worlds that shock with their familiarity.” (Philip Herter - St. Petersburg Times)

“Complex and provocative.” (International Herald Tribune)

More About the Author

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed "by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times)," and as "the real thing and the rarest" (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his Bolaño translations.

Customer Reviews

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One of the best short story collections ever written.
Literature Passion
I suppose one must credit Bolano's poetic sensibility as well as Chris Andrews's translations which have helped us to experience the poetry in English.
d e ford jr
These enigmatic, haunted stories will stay in your mind long after you've read them.
G. Nordström

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Adrift in Suburbia on June 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fourteen stories are included in this collection, by the author who died at age 50. He considered himself a poet primarily, and wrote fiction to support his family. The characters in "Last Evenings" invariably suffer early death by illness or suicide. Few, if any, of his characters achieve what Bolano calls the three highest goals of a man of letters: "fame, wealth and a large readership." Yet they toil away regardless, because they have no other choice. Bolano has a prose style utterly distinct from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the other Latin American masters of the sixties, seventies and eighties. Bolano's style, in contrast, is flat and unornamented, like a police report; one can sense the influence of Jorge Luis Borges in Bolano's precision and clarity, and also an amalgamation of genre fiction writers of North America, like Phillip K. Dick and James Ellroy. Bolano melds these influences into something all his own, a sort of pan-Latin American voice, without any distinct national identity.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By G. Nordström on August 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When Chilean writer Roberto Bolano prematurely died at the age of 50 a few years ago it was a loss to world literature. By many considered as one of the most interesting of new latin american writers, Bolano in his lifetime published several novels and collections of short stories. Very little has, so far, been translated into english. For those interested in getting to know Bolanos work, Last Evenings on Earth offers an ideal starting point. These enigmatic, haunted stories will stay in your mind long after you've read them. So, while waiting for translations of Bolano masterpieces Los detectives salvajes, and 2666, allow yourself to be seduced by these magnificent short stories. Bolano novels distant Star and By Night in Chile are also available in english and are highly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Fairweatherassult on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sensini, the literary mentor in this collection's first story, warns Arturo Belano (the novelist's anti-mainstream alter-go) that "The little world of letters is terrible as well as ridiculous." Roberto Bolano's life story, with its sudden headhrush of fame and recognition, proves this point. Neglected for most of life, heralded as a supreme genius in his dying days, the fickle sensibilities of aestheticians are now claiming a son whom they, for so long, orphaned.

The positive effect of all this is that non-Spanish readers can now enjoy a wide selection of Bolano's writings. _The Savage Detectives_ has certainly now gotten its fair take . . . but what of Bolano's other writings, his short fiction, which also work with his technique of 'infrarealism': memoir combined surrealism, or something like that.

This collection, while perhaps not giving the fullest single view of Bolano's stylistics, none the less pleases throughout for many reasons. Far sparser, and far more restrained than 'The Savage Detectives', this book might be called 'ode to marginalia'. A recurrent figure is the unsuccessful writer, no doubt a reflection of Bolano's own years of rejection. Dark, witty, but always earnest, this collection provides character vignettes which do not depend on high phrases or intricate psychoanalysis for their texture. Bolano reveals tensions, contradictions, and regret through understatement, rather than exposure, and these stories thrill by disappointing . . . conclusions are never conclusive, and discoveries are never certain. The successive tales all float about in a fog of open-ended indecision, which is as charming as it is maddening.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By meeah on April 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
"...there's no point adding to the pain, or adding our own little mysteries to it. As if the pain itself were not enough of a mystery, as if the pain were not the (mysterious) answer to all mysteries." --Roberto Bolano

So concludes Bolano at the conclusion of one of the more engimatic stories in his collection, "Last Evenings on Earth." Ive been a big Bolano fan since reading his sprawling, loosely connected 3-part epic "2666." My regard for him only increased after I read "The Savage Detectives." I knew these two books were regarded as his highest achievement in fiction, so I was prepared that whatever else I might read in his relatively short career (he died at 50) would likely not raise the bar any higher.

Indeed, his short stories are wonderful; eschewing magical realism, they nevertheless manage to evoke something of that particular blend of personal passion, political violence, and phenomenolical alchemy that one has come to expect from Latin American literature, post Garcia Marquez. Bolano, however, is more of a skeptic, a realist, an existential tragedian. His stories depict lives--mostly those of writers and artists--lived on the outside of love, success, and easy contentment. There is, as Wayne Koestenbaum noted on the back of the book, a kind of "haze that floats above Bolano's fiction" that is addictive and that reminds me of the haze that fills Camus's "The Stranger." One senses that something bad will happen, that the characters know it (often they come right out and acknowledge their foreboding) and yet there is nothing they can do to alter the course of events towards the catastrophe.
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