A collection that gathers everything Bolano was working on before his untimely death.

A North American journalist in Paris is woken at 4 a.m. by a mysterious caller with urgent information. For V. S. Naipaul the prevalence of sodomy in Argentina is a symptom of the nation’s political ills. Daniela de Montecristo (familiar to readers of Nazi Literature in the Americas and 2666) recounts the loss of her virginity. Arturo Belano returns to Mexico...

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The Secret of Evil

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A collection that gathers everything Bolano was working on before his untimely death.

A North American journalist in Paris is woken at 4 a.m. by a mysterious caller with urgent information. For V. S. Naipaul the prevalence of sodomy in Argentina is a symptom of the nation’s political ills. Daniela de Montecristo (familiar to readers of Nazi Literature in the Americas and 2666) recounts the loss of her virginity. Arturo Belano returns to Mexico City and meets the last disciples of Ulises Lima, who play in a band called The Asshole of Morelos. Belano’s son Gerónimo disappears in Berlin during the Days of Chaos in 2005. Memories of a return to the native land. Argentine writers as gangsters. Zombie schlock as allegory...

The various pieces in the posthumous Secret of Evil extend the intricate, single web that is the work of Roberto Bolano.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This engaging posthumous collection from the prolific Chilean novelist and poet Bolaño (2666) comprises the (largely unedited) vignettes, short stories, and speeches found on the author's computer at the time of his death in 2003. Characters and themes from his novels reappear in these stories: from The Savage Detectives's Arturo Belano, to musings on the state of Latin American literature, to the lives of tortured artists, including a disappeared British musician and a group of intellectuals in Paris caught in a "complex and subtle web of relations." Bolaño's quiet, sparse prose is punctuated by moments of eruptive violence, including terrifying scenes from a disturbingly autobiographical "B-grade schlock" zombie film, or a journalist covering a gruesome murder, imagining herself in the victim's stead. Bolaño crafts characters isolated from their surroundings and compellingly observing the humanity around them—a teenager "dissatisfied with everything" in his life stays up late and listens to his upstairs neighbors having sex in "Colonia Lindavista," while a recovering heroin addict spends his days observing beachgoers "with silent tears running down his face" in "Beach." As the narrator of the titular story declares, his tale is "incomplete, because stories like this don't have an ending;" nevertheless, Bolaño's writing is reliably intriguing. (Apr. 30)
The Washington Post
“Bolaño has joined the immortals.”
John Banville
“One of those rare writers who write for a future time. We have only begun to appreciate his strange, oblique genius.”
Johnathan Lethem - The New York Times
“A once-in-a-blue-moon rhapsodic reading experience.”
Mac Margolis - The Daily Beast
“Bolaño was no political pamphleteer. And yet his characters’ angst and desires play out against the canvas of history. With his raw, barely controlled emotions, and a talent for mining the pathos, beauty, and even humor amid the horror of ordinary life, his fiction soared.”
The A.V. Club
“It's a glimpse into the process of a totemic artistic figure.”
The Coffin Factory
“Paragraphs demand to be reread, because they give you the feeling that you’ve missed something. You did miss something, but you won’t find it in the printed words. It’s the space around the words where you’ll find the answer.”
Daily Kos
“Poetry is dangerous; that's the message.”
The Rumpus
“Bolaño succeeds in conjuring the unknowable empty spaces that an obsessive mind can imagine into the private lives of others.”
Time Out New York
“Each of the tales boast an aspect of Bolaño’s prodigious talent: his ability to leap into a character’s skin, quickly, with compelling confidence; or his facility for making sinister personalities and surreally uncomfortable situations feel all too plausible.”
The New York Times
A once-in-a-blue-moon rhapsodic reading experience.— Johnathan Lethem
Library Journal
It seems as if readers can't get enough of Bolaño these days. After the blockbuster reception of two major works (The Savage Detectives and 2666) came a slew of additional and occasionally lesser-quality works. This is the latest addition to the panoply of posthumous works in that latter category. These 19 stories were probably in various stages of progress when Bolaño died in 2003. However, in light of his trademark open endings, it is difficult to determine how finished they really are; some seem more fragmentary than others. The most rewarding are the three translated by Natasha Wimmer that were published previously in Between Parentheses. Most of the stories, which lack thematic unity, are very short and some are experimental: five are a single paragraph long; the five-page "Beach" is only one sentence. VERDICT This collection expands Bolaño's available short stories but overall does little to enhance his growing reputation as one of the major prose writers of contemporary Spanish. The volume is a mixed bag, with some highlights offset by some stories that, frankly, should have stayed on his hard drive.—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811220583
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • File size: 848 KB

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.
The poet Chris Andrews has translated many books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.
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