Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Skating Rink
The Skating Rink
Translated by Chris Andrews
Roberto Bolano wrap around this short novel according to its title. The story is on behalf of three male heroes who change each other in short chapters. Thus, the reader moves in circles, like on a skating rink.
In the center of the story the girl Nuria Marti, figure skating champion, which unexpectedly due to reorganization of the national team has been expelled from the team and lost the grant. Nuria, famous after his victories, is deprived of the most important thing in her life. Local official Enric Rosquelles, overweight, unattractive, not very popular among women, is charmed by Nuria. The only possibility of being closer to beautiful Nuria, even though in purely platonic way, is to help her again to do skating, to continue training. Had not committed any crimes before Rosquelles makes a risky move that could cost him everything: an official on the public money behind the Mayor’s back built in the old stadium the new rink specifically for Nuria. On evenings they come to the rink together, and while Nuria trains, Rosquelles just sits and stares at her.
Two other heroes of the book, a Mexican drifter and poet, who turned out in the tourist town of Z, Gaspar Heredia and businessman and friend of Gaspar for the old days in South America Remo Moran are also drawn into the story around the rink.
Everything ends with, of course, murder, and the novel has even formal features of mystery: an investigation, unclear motives, several suspects, the double ending. But do not think that Bolano was writing this novel, keeping in mind only the detective.
Bolano is generally a big dreamer. Invent the idea of a skating rink to win a girl – onlu this already says a lot. By and large «The Skating Rink» is a novel about love, and a skating rink is a metaphor for love. It hides, becomes a secret, but when the senses go out, it is often too late, only blood on the ice remains.
Bolano is not only a visionary but also a big humorist. There are no jokes as such in the book, but then, that, as a writer collects different cliches and features from the romances, detective stories, black humor prose and then just lays out these cliches, gives a clue to the reader that all this is certainly an ingenious invention, despite the fact that book is very sad.
This Bolano’s book, but like his other books, of course what is commonly called the poet's novel. This is indicated in style of the novel, sliding, but full of Spanish (even though most Latin American) heat, and the novel's characters are poets. Moran and Heredia, they are that kind of character that all the time in dreams, nostalgic for the old days - and the old places - man, broken, but without strain, in search of the senses, but not letting his own feelings goes free.
Whether it's a bad novel, it would be finish this review with Bolanesque joke, quote from a radio – «We are all united by a stadium». But this is a good novel, but the same joke comes to mind. I think Bolano would appreciate the humor: we are all united by a rink.