Thursday, May 07, 2009

An Attempt at Explaining the Cult of Bolaño

I was talking to an attorney in my office about Bolaño. He read The Savage Detectives and, while he enjoyed much of it (he said it's the best title for a novel he's ever come across), he has no idea what the book is about or what the point of the whole thing is. He’s not setting sights on 2666 anytime soon. I couldn’t explain to him my excitement over Bolaño’s work. It’s really hard to communicate, but this essay does a great job:

The idea of Bolaño appealing to literature obsessed goofballs is pretty dead on. (And if you are a literature obsessed goofball who enjoys Bolaño, take a look at Enrique Vila-Matas sometime.) The prevalent aspect of so many Bolaño stories is literature itself, which is why his characters are largely writers, though, mercifully, they never really talk about writing. The closing moments are especially interesting in regard to the idea of the “writer”:

It's clear that, besides the occasional small or large check, most writers—ourselves included—write out of vanity and compulsion. One believes in being a writer more, it seems, than in writing. What is it, again, you once had to say? And who, supposedly, wanted to hear it? Still, Bolaño-like, you can't conceive any redemption for you and your friends except through the production of masterpieces. Masterpieces, however, are always unlikely, and redemption impossible.

Have at it, chumps.