That’s the new collection of Roberto Bolaño’s assembled bricolage, essays, speeches, and critical notes. It wins the award for “the book this year which has most made me want to read other books.” It also reveals how smart and original he was as a reader, not just as a writer. I enjoyed this passage, among many others:
Of those three lineages — the three strongest in Argentina literature, the three departure points of the literature of doom — I’m afraid that the one which will triumph is the one that most faithfully represents the sentimental rabble, in the words of Borges. The sentimental rabble is no longer the Right (largely because the Right busies itself with publicity and the joys of cocaine and the plotting of currency devaluations and starvation, and in literary matters is functionally illiterate or settles for reciting lines from Martin Fierro), but the Left, and what the Left demands of its intellectuals is soma, which is exactly what it receives from its masters. Soma, soma, soma Soriano, forgive me, yours is the kingdom.
Strongly recommended, but only for those with a preexisting interest in, and knowledge of, Latin American literature. It gets an A+ for “helps you see an apparently familiar area in an entirely new light.”