26 April 2011

25 April 2011

"Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint...."

Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time.
– Paul Valéry, "The Yalu"

The blog Biblioklept has posted some excerpts from Between Parentheses, about Bolaño's take on American writers.

On Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian:

On Philip K. Dick's experiments:

On William S. Burroughs's 'sainthood':

See also:

"Guest Post: What Bolaño Read: The Americans" by Tom McCartan

'“Twain Is the Day, Melville the Night” — Roberto Bolaño on U.S. Writers' by Biblioklept

The above Valéry quote is one of three epigraphs in Blood Meridian. But it wouldn't be out of place in 2666, no.

(Detail from Grayground by Ronald Ventura)

21 April 2011

"True Poets Don’t Belong to Any Country: Ilan Stavans on Latin American Poetry"

In your introduction [to The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry] you coin the term “Menardismo,” after Pierre Menard, which followed the Modernismo movement that launched twentieth-century Latin American poetry. What does it mean?

The act, and art, of pretending to be part of a tradition, and by pretending, finding, finding a place in it. Menard is more Cervantian than Cervantes.

Modern Latin America is an invention: a confluence of cultures, a juxtaposition of disparate realties. I wanted the volume to reflect that contradiction. That’s why I asked the publisher to use the back-cover not for show-biz blurbs but for a single, mind-changing quote by Roberto Bolaño: “True poets don’t belong to any country.” In other words, all these Latin American poems are really not Latin American—they are universal. Bolaño continues: “For them the only borders that ought to be respected are the borders of dreams. The trembling borders of love and lovelessness, the borders of courage and fear, the golden borders of morality.”

–Ilan Stavans interviewed by David Shook for Molossus, about Stavans's latest anthology.

Presumably, Bolaño's poems figure in the book.

Stavans is also translating the complete odes of Pablo Neruda and he has just finished The Plain in Flames, a translation of Juan Rulfo's El llano en llamas.


(Flowers of Chile)

15 April 2011

"Giuseppe Arcimboldo: The prince of produce portraiture"

Toward the end of that intellectual murder mystery [2666], several characters try to locate a brilliant writer who has been missing for years, “Benno von Archimboldi” (a spelling used sometimes). Paintings are referred to in several crucial passages of the novel. Bolaño borrows Arcimboldo’s thought pattern: He makes each element in the narrative ordinary and carefully observed but combines them in an ominous, unsettling way. Characters are shaped as familiar national stereotypes, then placed where they don’t belong — like vegetables in a portrait.  

from an article on Giuseppe Arcimboldo by Robert Fulford, in the National Post's book blog The Afterword.


14 April 2011


...the shadow of my native land wasn’t erased and in the depths of my stupid heart the certainty persisted that it was there that my destiny lay

NYRblog posts "Exiles," another essay from Between Parentheses (due out next month).