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Título: Last Evenings On Earth
Editorial: Harvill Secker, London
Año de publicación: 2007
Condición del libro: Fine
Condición de la sobrecubierta: Fine
Edición: First Edition.
Fine first printing in fine dustwrapper. The book is square, tight and unmarked. The dustwrapper is complete and in perfect condition. An as-new copy. N° de ref. de la librería 004844
Ernest Hemingway once said that a good story was like an iceberg; what is visible is always smaller than the part that remains hidden beneath the water, which confers intensity, mystery, power and meaning on what floats on the surface. This is certainly true of the fourteen stories here, the first collection by the universally acclaimed Chilean author to be published in English. Imbued with 'the melancholy folklore of exile', as Roberto Bolaño once put it, and set largely in the world of the Chilean diaspora in Central America and Europe, the narrators of these stories are usually writers grappling with private quests (Bolaño's beloved 'failed generation'), who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. They are characters living in the margins, on the edge, in constant flight from nightmarish threats.
In 'Sensini' an elderly South American writer instructs another younger writer, also living in exile, in the subterfuges of entering work for provincial literary prizes. The title story tells of a journey to Acapulco that gradually becomes a descent into the underworld. 'Dance Card' provides the reader with sixty-nine reasons not to dance with Pablo Neruda. And the story 'Mauricio ("The Eye") Silva' opens with the following sentence: 'Mauricio Silva, also known as The Eye, always tried to avoid violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but violence, real violence, is unavoidable, at least for those of us who were born in Latin America during the fifties and were about twenty years old at the time of Salvador Allende's death.'
Críticas: Haunting, unsettling, evocative, Roberto Bolanã's Last Evenings on Earth is a remarkable book, and as the first of celebrated Chilean author's work to be translated into English (by Chris Andrews), it's the perfect introduction to the man who Susan Sontag called 'the most influential and admired novelist of his generation in the Spanish-speaking world'.
The protagonists have one thing in common in these stories: often on the fringes of society, they are engaged in difficult, challenging quests, their lives frequently on the line. And when they find what they are seeking, those lives are often changed irrevocably – and forever. The bleak undercurrent of life in Pinochet's regime is the background here, but the narratives of the stories contain a whole universe. In the title tale, the central character pursues – rather desperately – a hedonistic, erotically-charged lifestyle on a holiday in Acapulco. The pleasures of the flesh do not offer the relief he seeks, and he finds consolation in the work of a surrealist poet who died during the Nazi regime, possibly at his own hand. Many of the Bolanã's favourite themes are brilliantly worked out here, in prose that leaps off the page. The other stories glitter with same coruscating brilliance – and despite the recurrence of such dark themes as suicide – this is not at all depressing fare: in fact, reading Last Evenings on Earth is a positively life-enhancing experience.
There should be a warning on the jacket of the book, however, reading Roberto Bolanã has a curious side-effect: you will find yourself proselytising on his behalf to anyone who will listen (and to some who won't). Bolanã's writing is addictive – and it has that effect on the reader. --Barry Forshaw
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