The New York Times
Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003by Roberto Bolaño, Ignacio Echevarria, Natasha Wimmer
The essays of Roberto Bolano in English at last.Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolano wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. “Taken together,” as the editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his/em>/p>
The essays of Roberto Bolano in English at last.Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolano wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. “Taken together,” as the editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, they provide “a personal cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his writings, to a kind of fragmented ‘autobiography.’” Bolano’s career as a nonfiction writer began in 1998, the year he became famous overnight for The Savage Detectives; he was suddenly in demand for articles and speeches, and he took to this new vocation like a duck to water. Cantankerous, irreverent, and insufferably opinionated, Bolano also could be tender (about his family and favorite places) as well as a fierce advocate for his heroes (Borges, Cortázar, Parra) and his favorite contemporaries, whose books he read assiduously and promoted generously. A demanding critic, he declares that in his “ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior”: he argues for courage, and especially for bravery in the face of failure. Between Parentheses fully lives up to his own demands: “I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity at all levels.”
The New York Times
Containing literary criticism, notes about friends and acquaintances and beloved geographical locations, as well as speeches and prologues, this stellar collection of Bolaño's non-fiction creates, as Echevarría states in his introduction, "a kind of fragmented 'autobiography.'" Bolaño discusses many of the major Spanish language writers of his time, including Argentineans Roberto Arlt and Osvaldo Lamborghini and fellow Chilean Nicanor Parra, among many, many others (wonderfully ranging widely, from Thomas Harris to Philip K. Dick). Bolaño provides remarkable insight on his own writing, noting "everything that I've written is a love letter or a farewell letter to my own generation." His advice to other writers is equally eloquent; "literature," he states, "has nothing to do with national prizes and everything to do with a strange rain of blood, sweat, semen, and tears." The depictions of the places he's lived and visited are evocative and provide depth and detail into his "fragmented" life (particularly when he describes the Catalonian town of Blanes and his withdrawl from heroin on the beach). This is exciting writing from a cherished writer. Wimmer won the National Book Critic Circle's 'Best Novel of the Year' award for her translation of the author's 2666.
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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.
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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