Last Evenings on Earth

Last Evenings on Earth

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by Roberto Bolaño, Chris Andrews
     
 

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"The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolaño once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate

Overview

"The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolaño once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate unresolved efforts. They are characters living in the margins, often coming to pieces, and sometimes, as in a nightmare, in constant flight from something horrid.

In the short story "Silva the Eye," Bolaño writes in the opening sentence: "It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as The Eye, always tried to escape violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but the violence, the real violence, can't be escaped, at least not by us, born in Latin America in the 1950s, those of us who were around 20 years old when Salvador Allende died."

Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin America and Europe, and peopled by Bolaño's beloved "failed generation," the stories of Last Evenings on Earth have appeared in The New Yorker and Grand Street.

Editorial Reviews

Hartford Courant
“Widely known in the Spanish-speaking world as the premier writer of his generation.”
The New York Sun
“If you haven't heard of Roberto Bolaño yet, you will soon.”
Roberto Bolaño is one of the most respected writers in the Latin American generation that came of age in the 1970s. These short stories, his first collection in English translation, follows the landscape of exile, repression, and dispossession that was the fate of Bolaño and so many of his contemporaries. The subjects can be grim, but the stories are suffused with a mordant wit and incomparable irony that is so often the mark of a resistance forever defeated and forever renewed. These are stories about literature and for literature.
Francine Prose
Reading Roberto Bolaño is like hearing the secret story, being shown the fabric of the particular, watching the tracks of art and life merge at the horizon and linger there like a dream from which we awake inspired to look more attentively at the world.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Chilean Bolano (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: "G mez 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: Bola o limns the capacity of a voice to carry despair without shading into bitterness. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Bolaño (1953-2003), a Chilean poet and novelist, fled his homeland during Pinochet's coup and spent the rest of his life in Mexico, France, and Spain. As his work appears in English, his stature grows; this year has already marked the arrival of his novel The Savage Detectives(LJ1/07), hailed as a masterpiece in the Spanish-speaking world. This collection contains 14 short stories selected from two volumes, Llamadas telefónicas(1997) and Putas asesinas(2001). Many of the stories feature protagonists with names derived from the author's (Arturo Belano or simply "B") who publish minor works of literature, teach writing workshops, and drift through relationships and locales. Bolaño is playful and humorous when he touches on the absurdities of everyday life, but the stories have a dark undercurrent; nearly all are colored by the theme of exile and its often tragic aftermath. While his plots are skimpy and he doesn't display much range, Bolaño's writing is insidious and may prove to be highly influential. Recommended for larger fiction collections.
—Forest Turner

Kirkus Reviews
Exile, alienation and a fatalistic sense of the impermanence of human connections and relations dominate this collection of 14 stories written by the late (1953-2003), brilliant Chilean author. Bola-o (who sometimes appears in the stories, identified as "B.") was a leftist intellectual haunted by lingering fallout from his country's political catastrophes (notably, a 1973 military coup), including destroyed marriages and families, betrayed ideals and unrealized dreams. His stories-which echo the allegorical terseness of his recently translated novels By Night in Chile (2003) and Distant Star (2004)-phlegmatically record such unconsummated or indistinct experiences as an unnamed writer's friendship through correspondence with an older writer whose burden of hardships is too complex to be shared ("Sensini"); a failed poet's compensation for his artistic ineptness in an imaginative escape from reality ("Enrique Martin"); a Chilean exile's gradually revelatory encounter with a countryman unmanned and enervated by the annihilation of his hopes for a more just society ("Days of 1978"); and a minor writer's small triumph when he acts as "secretary, messenger, or valet" to more accomplished contemporaries during the perilous days of the French Resistance ("Henri Simon Leprince"). A few stories ("Phone Calls," "Anne Moore's Life") misfire or fail to play to Bola-o's strengths (the uncharacteristically comic "Gomez Palacio," the fragmentary autobiographical piece "Dance Card"). But at his best, he echoes the elliptical precision of Borges, Kafka, Mexican surrealist Juan Rulfo and the great prestidigitator Julio Cortazar-notably, in the superb title story, which portrays a young intellectual'sAcapulco vacation with his father as a slowly dawning apprehension of approaching death; and the subtly exfoliating "Dentist," in which exchanges of stories and a vision of how they're made confirms for its narrator (what he has already intuited) that "We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as we never stop living, although death is certain." Read Bolano, and you'll understand what he means.
Bookforum
I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction.— Wayne Kostenbaum
Village Voice
Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms.— Andersen Tepper
Los Angeles Times
Bolaño's characters yearn for amnesia as well as for the ability to connect to someone or something in the present.— Stephanie Hanson
The New York Times
His generation's premier Latin-American writer... Bolaño's reputation and legend are in meteoric ascent.— Larry Rohter
St. Petersburg Times
Conjures dreamlike worlds that shock with their familiarity.— Philip Herter
International Herald Tribune
“Complex and provocative.”
Wayne Kostenbaum - Bookforum
“I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction.”
Susan Sontag
“The most influential and admired novelist of his generation in the Spanish-speaking world.”
Andersen Tepper - Village Voice
“Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms.”
Stephanie Hanson - Los Angeles Times
“Bolaño's characters yearn for amnesia as well as for the ability to connect to someone or something in the present.”
Larry Rohter - The New York Times
“His generation's premier Latin-American writer... Bolaño's reputation and legend are in meteoric ascent.”
Philip Herter - St. Petersburg Times
“Conjures dreamlike worlds that shock with their familiarity.”
Dan Pope - Hartford Courant
“Widely known in the Spanish-speaking world as the premier writer of his generation.”
Benjamin Lytal - The New York Sun
“If you haven't heard of Roberto Bolaño yet, you will soon.”
Bookforum - Wayne Kostenbaum
“I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction.”
Village Voice - Andersen Tepper
“Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms.”
Hartford Courant - Dan Pope
“Widely known in the Spanish-speaking world as the premier writer of his generation.”
The New York Sun - Benjamin Lytal
“If you haven't heard of Roberto Bolaño yet, you will soon.”
Los Angeles Times - Stephanie Hanson
“Bolaño's characters yearn for amnesia as well as for the ability to connect to someone or something in the present.”
The New York Times - Larry Rohter
“His generation's premier Latin-American writer... Bolaño's reputation and legend are in meteoric ascent.”
St. Petersburg Times - Philip Herter
“Conjures dreamlike worlds that shock with their familiarity.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811216340
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
05/05/2006
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

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

Meet 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 New Directions translations of Roberto Bolaño.

A poet who lives and teaches in Australia,
he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions.

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Last Evenings on Earth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago