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The Return Hardcover – July 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Translator Chris Andrews deserves enormous recognition for introducing America to Bolaño with Night in Chile back in 2003. Now, with the Bolaño renaissance in full swing and the backlog of untranslated works narrowing, Andrews culls the short stories omitted from Last Evenings on Earth. Save perhaps the title story—in which a dead man follows his body through an increasingly noxious series of abuses—the stories have a subdued and sketchlike quality, from underworld confessionals like Snow and Joanna Silvestri, to tender reminiscences like Cell Mates and the heartbreaking missed romance of Clara. Devotees of Bolaño will recognize the writer's merciless (and often humorous) fusion of high art and dark human nature in small flights like Meeting with Enrique Lihn and comic bloodbaths like William Burns, though mercy plays a surprising role in several of the stories, as in the incredible Prefiguration of Lalo Cura, in which the cast and crew of high-concept pornos face their late-life requiem. The initiated and dedicated have a welcome feast of small desolations. (July)
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From Booklist

The late Bolaño, a Chilean writer whose posthumous reputation only grows as more of his works are translated into English, practiced the short story and the novel with equal genius. This new collection of 13 stories proves to be a defining sampler of Bolaño's style, thematic concerns, and favored character types. Stories involving love on the skids, sexual situations gone wrong, and breakups looming around the corner find their place in the rough-and-tumble lives of cops, gangsters, writers, political fomenters (“At the time I used to hang out with anarchists and radical feminists and the books I read were more or less influenced by the company I was keeping”), and even a ghost and a necrophiliac. Obvious autobiographical elements populate his stories, especially those dealing with writers' lives and repressive dictatorial times (Bolaño suffered imprisonment during the Pinochet era). At odds, intriguingly, with the bleak characters he depicts is his sensitive style (“She had long brown hair, and her simple ponytail gathered all the grace in the world”). --Brad Hooper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (July 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811217159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811217156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dallas Fawson on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a bit afraid about this book: I knew that Bolano had written two books of short stories, and that Last Evening's on Earth had selected stories from both of these. When I saw that the return was coming out, I was afraid that all of the best stories from those two collections were put into LEOE. However, as a die-hard Bolano fan, I immediately ordered it, and started reading it as soon as it was shipped.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed. The first story, a Soviet Union story about a man who reluctantly works for an old friend, has twists and turns, and is even creepy, in a subtle sort of way. These stories contain his usual kinds of characters: poets, detectives, pimps and prostitutes, and even characters from his novels (including Lalo Cura and Amalfitano from 2666.)
Granted, like Last Evenings on Earth, some of the stories pale in comparison to the others, but it also has stories that explore new ground for Bolano, such as the title story. I knew from the opening line:
"I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a life (of a kind) after this life. The bad news is that Jean-Claude Villeneuve is a necrophiliac."
..that it was going to be great, and it was.
If you loved Last Evenings on Earth, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.
If you're new to Bolano, I'd spend a little less money and get Last Evenings on Earth or Amulet, but this collection is certainly worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Roberto Bolaño is deceased, sadly, but his phenomenal talent as one of the century's greatest writers lives on, thanks in great part to the dedication of Chris Andrews as his translator. In this new collection of short stories his style continues to mesmerize - long sentences without a lot of punctuation, many pages without a paragraph break, mixing voices within a conversation, flowing poetic phrases within raw descriptions of things usually just whispered or left unsaid - all of these attributes are here in a very fine collection of stories that bear re-reading frequently.

Bolaño jumps around the globe for new locations in this collection: he begins with a story in Moscow ('Snow") about the involvement with the narrator and a female high jumper who the narrator is to court for an obese criminal but ends up....never give away Bolaño's endings, another tale from Amalfitano about a strange Andalusian in Russia whose lack of understanding of languages poses problems, to Chile and Spain, and Southern California. His characters range from misfits, to a man who dies and becomes a ghost only to observe his body transported from a morgue to the mansion of a wealthy designer who just happens to be a necrophiliac, to a porn star working in Venice, California making movies until she discovers her hero from the past -'Jack' Holmes (an obvious play on the famous mightily endowed porn star John Holmes) who is fading away from AIDS, to an encounter between an athlete and a prostitute that is rich with messages of human communication. And of course much more.

Throughout this selection of thirteen stories Bolaño (with the help of Andrews) entertains, shocks, makes us laugh, and most of all makes us marvel at his command of the art of writing. This is a magnificent collection, another great book in the legacy of Roberto Bolaño. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ron Kolm on August 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Think of Roberto Bolano's newest collection of short stories, The Return, as the cool, tasty treat you earned for finishing a heavy meal of either of his two major novels; The Savage Detectives or 2666. A true dessert, these stories are all New Yorker reader friendly; crisp sentences that move the action briskly along. Heck, we'll even go so far as to call this the perfect beach book -- a Chilean beach, it's true -- but a beach nonetheless!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pebo on February 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bolano a writer of remarkable talent and imagination. Each story read like a novel. How he repeatedly does it is beyond me. Unfaltering talent. Read this book. Great introduction to all the other violumes available. Amazing translation.
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