Friday, January 30, 2009

Distant Star by Roberto Bolano (16/81)

Category: Around the World
Country: Chile

I picked this up in my local library because of all of hype surrounding the publication in English of Bolano’s 2666. I shy away from long books at the best of times, but 2666 sounded particularly daunting. So I thought I would start with one of his shorter works.

It is about a mysterious poet who becomes both a celebrated artist for his sky-writing poetry and a murderous soldier in the early days of Pinochet’s regime. The early part of the book was excellent. The sinister atmosphere of this time and place in history where it became the norm for people to “disappear” was chilling, as was the glimpses we were given the central character.

Unfortunately, in the later part of the book becomes more concerned with endless literary name-dropping of mainly Latin American writers and poet, plus a chunk on Les Miserables too, which was completely lost on me. I imagine it is this high-brow stuff that earned Bolano his reputation but I preferred the atmospheric part with a plot!

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