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Nazi Literature in the Americas (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 29, 2009
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Amazon Significant Seven, February 2008: As with the emergence of W.G. Sebald into English a decade ago, the most exciting new writer to watch is one we're just catching up with: the late Roberto Bolaño, whose ground-breaking fiction defined a generation of Spanish-speaking literature. In between last year's thrillingly meandering epic, The Savage Detectives, and the upcoming alleged masterwork, 2666, comes a small and strange book (but no stranger than the rest), Nazi Literature in the Americas. Presented as a biographical encyclopedia of right-wing writers in North and South America, these short, invented lives are full of the stuff of minor literary scenes and forgotten books, with delusion and creation mixed in equal fashion. Funny, melancholy, surprisingly tender, and--once in a while--erupting into fury, Bolaño spins out tale after tale with the joy of sheer invention and the burden of inescapable history. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The title chosen by Bolaño (1953–2003) for this slim, fake encyclopedia is not wholly tongue-in-cheek: given the very real presence of former (and not-so-former) Nazis in Latin America following WWII, this book, despite being fiction, still had j'accuse-like power when first published in 1996. The poets described herein, though invented, seem—even at their most absurd—plausible, which is the secret to this sly book's devastating effect. And as one proceeds from an entry on Edelmira Thompson de Mendiluce (In high spirits, Edelmira asked for the Führer's advice: which would be the most appropriate school for her sons?) to one on Carlos Ramírez Hoffman (His passage through literature left a trail of blood and several questions posed by a mute), it becomes clear that there is a single witness to all of these terrible figures, one who has spent time in one of Pinochet's prisons and is bent on coolly totting up the crimes of fascism's literary perpetrators. Some readers will recognize figures and episodes from Bolaño's other books (including The Savage Detectives and Distant Star). The wild inventiveness of Bolaño's evocations places them squarely in the realm of Borges—another writer who draws enormous power from the movement between the fictive and the real. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The book is a collection of imaginary biographies of invented right wing writers from Latin and North America, both historic and from the future. Bolaño knew something about political writers, having himself been imprisoned in Chile as a suspected left wing terrorist. What he provides here is a parody of both the right wing views and of literary criticism. His invented writers are intentionally absurd, often leading bizarre and tragic lives which are beautifully crafted in their descriptions. It's an exceptional achievement that these all hang together in a complete imagined world with the book complete with bibliographies of their works - often covering obscure and strange titles. I particularly likes the pilot-poet whose chosen medium is sky writing and the two football supporter gang leaders in Argentina who in their more tender moments resort to poetry.
There are plenty of amusing moments and the effect is a clever parody of literature, political views and literary criticism. There's an almost Bob Dylan-like take on the absurdities of analysis of these sad writers.
In saying that, if this is your first introduction to Bolaño, I'd recommend starting elsewhere - probably with The Savage Detectives. Why? Simply because while this is undoubtedly clever and certainly entertaining, it doesn't really go anywhere other than an expansion of a good idea. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I'm glad I had some previous Bolaño experience and that, I think enhanced my enjoyment of this book. There's no doubt he was a major talent and his tragically early death in 2003 aged just 50 was a great loss. It's fascinating to see where his reputation started.
This is hugely inventive and very funny,not only satarising the vapid nazi ideology that has dogged Latin American politics and had many apologists(Peron for example)but also having a good dig at all the pretentious literary schools and fads.Most of the authors here repeat and pay homage to the incoherrent mystical ramblings and prejudices that was Hitler's 'Mein Kamph'
Bolano also intermingles real literary figures and their works as many of his featured 'writer's' not only shamelessly plagiarise their work,but nazify it too! So good is Bolano that I can see many of Bolano's creations and histories being deemed as fact in the future,in much the same way as Conan Doyle's fictional account of the discovery of the Marie Celeste has convinced people to this day that hot plates of food and drinks were found neat and untouched on the tables.
Truly original,truly inventive,truly delightful in a very dark way. Bolano creates a new genre himself.