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Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003 Hardcover – May 30, 2011
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“Bolano’s judgments are a joy to read. Between Parentheses is a treasure chest: filled with odd glittering jewels and fistfuls of gold. In these essays we hear Bolano’s real voice, the one he often disguised through the ventriloquism of his fiction.” (Marcela Valdes - The Nation)
“What a refreshing surprise it is to hear Bolaño in his own words.” (J.C. Gabel - TimeOut Chicago)
“Bolaño frolics in pithy essays on friendship, women, ancestors, and courage. He’s irreverent and purposeful, cerebral and casual, insouciantly opinionated and ironic, and charming and funny.” (Donna Seaman - Booklist)
“One emerges from Between Parentheses with the desire to read more ― to read more Bolano, re-read Borges, to discover Nicanor Parra and Enrique Lihn and Carmen Boullosa.” (Marianne Moore - Zyzzyva)
“The essays in Between Parentheses preserve for us the voice of the seasoned and accomplished Bolano, the man who, as he was whipping up these various tapas, was also tending the large pot simmering with the eventual 2666, and was very likely aware that his days were numbered. I would like to have the culture, the knowledge, that would let me enjoy his responses to his fellow writers as they were meant to be enjoyed, but even without that―and it is a considerable deficit―the collection delights. How not? Spirit, where it exists, shines through. Roberto Bolano was one of the ones for whom literature was everything.” (Sven Birkets - Aysmptote)
About the Author
Natasha Wimmer’s translation of Roberto Bolano’s 2666 won the National Book Award’s Best Novel of the Year as well as the PEN Prize.
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Seasoned readers of this author can comfortably enter and enjoy the world of these essays, speeches, newspaper columns, travel articles and other occasional pieces. This is because many elements of Bolaño's novels and stories -- their settings, aspects of their storylines, their narrators or chief protagonists, and their abiding spirit of inquiry -- are grounded in autobiography. Bolaño's friend and literary executor, Ignacio Echevarria, who has assembled the 125 pieces found in "Between Parentheses," acknowledges the open border between the author's fiction and non-fiction in his hearty Introduction: "This volume amounts to something like a personal cartography of Roberto Bolaño and comes closest, of everything he wrote, to being a kind of fragmented `autobiography'."
If the reader perceives anything different in this collection it is that here the voice you've come to expect -- opinionated ("plagiarists deserve to be hanged in the public square"), passionate (his love for his soon-to-be-fatherless son beams bright), and with a tinge of the rapscallion ("one of the best ways to steal . . . I had learned from an Edgar Allen Poe story") -- is closer still to the elusive essence of "I, Roberto Bolaño."
In a piece from 1999, this autodidactic author declares: "I'm much happier reading than writing." His admiration shines forth the many times he notes that some friend or acquaintance "has read everything." The exhaustive scope of his own reading and interests is demonstrated by the nine-page Index that completes "Between Parentheses.Read more ›
"Between Parentheses, which has been adroitly translated by Natasha Wimmer, covers a lot of acreage. There are crunchy bits of autobiography, political laments, disquisitions on food and soccer and women and exile and keeping airplanes afloat with your mind." -- Dwight Garner, The NY Times
Roberto Bolaño, is one of the greatest South American authors of our generation, who gained a widespread reputation in Latin literature with his novel, "The Savage Detectives". He was the most dominant and controversial figure to have emerged since the early 1960s, due to the way his novels impend over the past half-century of Latin American fiction. A lover and a fighter, he demonstrates how the boasting Bolaño could invoke in oration and squabble loudly at the same time. In Bolaño's bewildering novel, an exuberant, and wildly inventive fictitious narrative, he declared, "There is a time for reciting poems, and a time for fists." His intellectual thought, and debating fists, in nonfiction prose, mostly from his daily contributions in Newspapers, are gathered here for the first time. These seemed to be the odd jobs and 'left-handed journalism' that filled "Between Parentheses."
Between Parentheses brings about most of the published newspaper columns and articles written during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks. As the book's editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, the pieces provide a kind of fragmented autobiography, a personal survey attempting to describe the writer. Bolaño's career as a nonfiction writer began suddenly in 1998, just five year before his death, when he became famous for his fiction hit, The Savage Detectives.Read more ›
These are not to be taken as true lit crit (thank goodness), and may help spread the reputation of Roberto Bolano, the writer, for, as e.e. cummings wrote in one of his poems, "And death, I think, is no parentheses."