Nazi Literature in the Americas

Nazi Literature in the Americas

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811217941
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 05/29/2009
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 662,376
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About 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 Andrewsteaches at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he is a member of the Writing and Society Research Centre. He has translated books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.

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Nazi Literature in the Americas 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
PaulBerauer on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Nazi Literature in the America's is a fascinating pseudo-dictionary covering over a half century of fictional Latin American fascist writers. While the title suggests the book focuses on Nazis, the authors and poets discussed are more general fascists and madmen (or madwomen as the case sometimes is) that strict Nazi's. The book itself is a fascinating look into the world of Roberto Bolano, and is self-referencing and at times very funny. While the articles themselves vary, most are only a few pages long. All in all, Nazi Literature is a strange and interesting book on (fictional) extremist literature and Bolano's sly portrayal of what literature as a whole might mean.
CBJames on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Roberto Bolano's Nazi Literature in the Americas is an encyclopedic look at a fictional literary movement. Novelists, poets, short story writers, magazine editors and publishers are all given detailed entries covering their lives and work. Minor figures and publications are listed in the appendices at the back. All down to the least significant fictional fascist author is included, lovingly, even reverently described.Is Mr. Bolano playing a dangerous game with his readers? For the most part, the people included seem harmless. Their work is literature; the book about them non-political. Most of the biographical entries don't appear fascist at all, let alone Nazi. There is no talk of Anti-Semitism, or racial superiority, or eugenics. The final solution is not mentioned nor is there any discussion of World War II. The writers described in Mr. Bolano's book are concerned not with politics but with poetics. If the cover didn't say Nazi, you'd never guess.Mr. Bolano's characters are a self-important, delusional bunch. Relegated to obscurity by history, they still consider themselves a vital literary movement. Mr. Bolano's "narrator" does nothing to subvert this notion. His tone recognizes the importance of the writers and publications described. He could easily be a university professor documenting a lifetime's worth of research. But while the writers included in Nazi Literature in the Americas interact with some of the canonical authors of their day--Borges, Ginsberg to name a few--they do not make an impact on either them or the literary world of their time. In the end, to this reader's relief, Mr. Bolano's Nazis are a pathetic bunch. But just how hard is Mr. Bolano pulling our leg? Had history taken a different course, would a Nazi poetics have emerged? Would the authors described in Nazi Literature in the Americas be the ones occupying center stage while Borges and Ginsberg struggled in obscurity? These are not easy questions for those of us who value literature. We hope there is something about literature that places it above politics. We don't like to think about how literature is also determined by politics. They say the winners write the history books, but don't they also write the poetry?Reading Nazi Literature in the Americas is much like reading an encyclopedia. That is both a compliment and a complaint. Mr. Bolano maintains the objective voice commonly found in good encyclopedias throughout most of his novel. This objectivity serves to present his fictional characters in a non-judgemental manner that underscores how feeble their efforts are while it makes the reader uneasy by invoking our sympathy. We chuckle at their absurdity, feel guilty about it, then feel guilty for feeling guilty. But reading an encyclopedia, even a very well written one, becomes a tedious experience at some point. Encyclopedias are not meant to be read cover to cover. Novels are. Mr. Bolano's narrator himself falls victim to the same tedium his readers begin to experience. Towards the end of Nazi Literature in the Americas he loses his objective, encyclopedia writer voice, and becomes a story teller. The last few entries in the book are really short stories, not biographical essays. Perhaps that makes Mr. Bolano's experiment a failure, since he couldn't keep it up all the way to the finish. Perhaps it simply recognizes the needs of his reader and the needs of his narrator who just can't help himself anymore. He's a fan, he wants to tell the story with all its inherent drama. Objectivity be damned.
kidzdoc on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Nazi Literature in the Americas is an encyclopedic compilation of mini-biographies by imagined far right-wing writers who are placed in realistic settings and interact with real authors and other famous people.I stopped reading it after 80 pp., as I found it quite tedious. I would imagine that someone with a background in academic literature would find this much more enjoyable than I did; it is well written, and often humorous and/or disturbing.
echo2 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Real life can sometimes bear an unsettling resemblance to nightmares. (77)
jasonpettus on LibraryThing 8 months ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)So have you heard yet about the strange saga of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño? Born in the 1950s, a globetrotting vagabond and revolutionary activist most of his youth, one who just barely escaped the Pinochet coup of the '70s, Bolaño ended up settling down for the first time in the '80s and cranking out serious literature for the first time as well; and almost immediately his works started getting hailed by his fellow South and Central American intellectuals, with him for example by the late '90s being called by many down there the most important writer of his generation, and with his masterpiece The Savage Detectives being called by critic Ignacio Echevarria in those years "the novel that Borges would have written." Sadly, though, Bolaño died of a liver disorder in 2003, just a few years before his work started getting widely published in English for the first time; and thus it is that we here in the English-speaking world are just now going through a big literary crush on Bolaño for the first time these days, after he has already died and has left behind a definitively finite amount of work.Take, for example, today's book under review, the slim and experimental Nazi Literature in the Americas; it was actually originally published in its native Spanish in 1996, but not in English until just a few months ago, making it actually being considered a "new" book here at CCLaP today and eligible for the "best of 2008" list at the end of the year. And it's an odd book too, more of a clever artistic game than a full-fledged novel, its concept being just what you would imagine with such a title; it is a fictional reference guide to several dozen supposed fascism-friendly authors and other right-wing intellectuals, all of whom supposedly lived in either North, Central or South America at one time or another in history. And not only that, but it's set in the future, making this not only a fake history that references real events (the Nazi flight to South America after WWII, the various revolutions that took place there in the '70s), but also partly science-fiction as well, detailing a completely fictional moment in future history when a neo-fascist movement apparently catches on in North America quite intensely. (And let's not forget, this was written in 1996, long before 9/11 and the neocon Bush administration.) It's a fascinating and frustrating book, one you can tell comes from the very beginning of Bolaño's career; and that's because the stuff that's there is just so clever and so fascinating, but ultimately there's simply not enough there to make it a truly great novel. In fact, the entire manuscript is only a padded-out 200 pages, and actually written in the style of a reference guide, thumbnail sketches of each writer with very few connective threads between them; like I said, it feels more like spending an afternoon at Wikipedia than it does reading a full and mature novel. That said, though, what's there is fantastic; it is a complicated, realistic look at how various right-wing theories about the world have been justified and rationalized over the decades by well-meaning but deluded intellectuals and philosophers, how it's not just dogma alone that has inspired such people but also personal loss, love lives, a certain affinity for certain geographical locations at certain moments in history, and all kinds of other complicated factors.Now, granted, let's just admit, the more of a well-read academe you are, the more you're going to enjoy Nazi Literature in the Americas; as mentioned, for example, I've read online many times now that this book takes on the structure of a typical Borges project, but I'm completely and utterly unfamiliar with Borges myself so couldn't even begin to tell you if that's true. There are
lriley on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Having read Stacey D'Erasmo's review yesterday in the NYTimes book review--there is little to be added to that. If one is interested one should check that out. As it is for me Bolano invents a literary reference work of would be fascist or nazi sympathizing writers complete with bibliographic information and secondary sources and figures. One can see a definite comparable to some of the works of the great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges but this is a lot more sinister in nature and content. Bolano's book imagines a world of what if's. What if for instance the worldviews projected out by these writers had gotten the upper hand? Some churning out science fiction end of the world religious drek, others extol Hitler or amass thousands of pages of bile on 18th century French philosophers like Montaigne, Voltaire and Diderot. The last of the entries may be the most sinister--one Carlos Ramirez Hoffman aka Emilio Stevens--seen previously before in Bolano's novella 'Distant Star'--a Chilean air force officer who in the wake of the Pinochet coup becomes part of the apparatus of state terror--the torture and disappearances/murders of dissidents. He also is a bit of a serial killing free lancer--a trophy hunter--and would be poet and artist. He writes his poems in the sky--in messages referencing obliquely to some of the women he has butchered--also proudly showing off at a party he gives for friends and acquaintances at his home--photographs of these women being tortured and murdered. Whether it is the plagiarist Max Mirebilais a Haitian trying to combine Negritude and Nazism or the Aryan Nations prison poets--Thomas Murchison, John Lee Brook or Soldiers of Fortune--Ignacio Zubieta, Jesus Fernandez Gomez or the sons of Nazi war criminals born and raised in South America--Willy Schurholz this is a fascinating read with a broad range of types--and though not a long work having only 30 individual entries.To borrow from D'Erasmo's NYTimes review piece: 'Goose-stepping caricatures a la 'The Producers' they are not; instead, they are frighteningly subtle, poignant and plausible. Like Leni Riefenstahl, the artistes Bolano invents share a certain Romantic asethetic, a taste for the classical and nonvulgar, a dislike of 'cacophony' and a lurking sense that something has gone wrong in the modern world--that children, for instance, have been 'stolen and raised by inferior races' and that a better world in the form of the Fourth Reich is imminent. (and later) Like Riefenstahl, they find the highest beauty in a particular sort of symmetry and order that only in retrospect seems indubitaly fascist. Horribly, persistently, they have a vision that they are incapable of giving up.'There's no doubt in this readers mind that anything and everything that has come into print from Bolano's hands is well worth the time spent reading it. A very subtle mind--one who never shrinks from controversy. A brilliant writer.
richardderus on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Abandon ship! All hands abandon ship! By p41, I was so tired of being condescended to and treated to clever-clever in-jokey boring dreary archness that I was ready to fire up the fireplace and go all Fahrenheit 451 on this thing's ass.It's a library book. That saved it. But that's ALL that saved it.
Voise15 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Borges like literary conceit. Occassionally laugh out loud, but always sharply observed and disturbing.
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