Friday, April 22, 2011

Nazi Literature in the Americas

Roberto Bolano
Nazi Literature in the Americas

Picador, 2010

This novel finally confirmed that Bolano is a great fabulist. Imagine a directory of encyclopedia articles, written by a sensitive and well-educated scholar who has never read the encyclopedia, but read a lot of science fiction (and not only by South American writers) and watched European films. The book has through characters, but each article-chapter is a separate article and is devoted to a fictional writer. Among them are poets, novelists, but most often it is the writers - those who write: from plays to the letters. There are those who write all his life until death, there are those that released in a lifetime only two books of poetry.

Nazi literature from the title of the novel is something that unites all very different writers in this book. Though there are not Nazi literature by and large in the book, but in the fate of every writer there is a vital episode associated with the Third Reich. For Bolano the use of "Nazi Literature" in any case is no way outrageous, but the formalities necessary to give the seemingly banal encyclopedic compilation in novel form some mystique.

To understand the humor of Bolano - and appreciate it - you have to be bookworms and bibliophiles. Humor begins with the title of the novel. And anyone who tries to take the book seriously will be disappointed.

The merit of Bolano is not only his boundless imagination and a subtle humor, but also a sense of proportion. He knows when to get bored, and chooses the correct volume for the book. No matter how different writers’ stories are, sooner or later the author begins to repeat himself- and ends the book. Bolano himself appears in the final chapter, thus placing himself in a number of imaginitive writers. I made you up, and I, too, am made up by someone else, Bolano implies.

Well, probably so.

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