Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A white worm with a straw hat / under the northern Mexican sun

As November approaches, things are heating up here in the Hungry Inferno, mostly because two (count ‘em, 2!) new translations will appear of the late Roberto Bolaño’s work. The one doomed to become my winter obsession is 2666, the last book he wrote; the one he never officially finished (even at close to 1,000 pages); the one that will be released simultaneously in one big hardback edition and three paperbacks in a slip case (both editions, same price, thank you FSG); the book that many consider to be not only his masterpiece but the masterpiece of contemporary (that’s post boom) Latin American literature, even though Bolaño preferred to think that the Spanish language was his home, having left Latin America long before publishing his “major” works.

The hype around 2666 is big enough without me adding to it, and I fear a let down to a certain extent, but that is only because I discovered Bolaño for myself absent the hype, and those sorts of discoveries are often the best. I saw Amulet in a bookstore and bought it, as I buy so many titles that seem to originate from south of the border. From there it was a short leap to The Savage Detectives and a major descent into the Bolaño abyss, a wonderful place to be. Regardless of the merits of 2666 vs. the other translated works, I am stoked. This will be my winter of Bolaño, as the summer has belonged to G. Cabrera Infante.

Oh, the other book to be released (by New Directions) this November is a collection of poetry called The Romantic Dogs. Quite a Bolaño title. Attached here: <http://www.ndpublishing.com/books/bolanoromanticdogspreview.html> is a link to the New Directions page featuring not only a sample poem but a list of the titles they plan to release in the coming years. Of them, I am most excited about Monsieur Pain, as it centers on César Vallejo’s life and death in Paris.

Reading the previewed poem, and others I’ve stumbled across, I can safely say that I prefer Bolaño the novelist, though the poems have their moments. Regardless, it goes without saying that I will nab me a copy of The Romantic Dogs to do more detailed research.

Get happy, people!