What is it about Bolaño that has permitted this author success over here? To start with, he himself makes for a great story, and that counts for a lot. Forgetting even how Bolaño first left Chile and then returned to fight for it and was captured and nearly executed, his lifestyle of tramping around the Hispanic world and then suddenly setting down and writing masterpiece after masterpiece appeals deeply to our idea of the romantic artist, the man who lives life on his terms and seems to grasp the muse between his fingers. Perhaps Bolaño himself best summed it up when he said, upon accepting the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, that good writing “doesn’t mean just to write well, because anybody can do that, but to write marvelously well, though not even that, because anybody can do that too. Then what is writing of quality? Well, what it’s always been: to know how to thrust your head into the darkness, know how to leap into the void, and to understand that literature is basically a dangerous calling.” The writer who boldly leaps where none have leapt before, who mixes passion and love together into art. This is the Bolaño we love to read.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I'm picking up where I left off reading Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives. Scott Esposito has a good theory why this literature has taken off in the States: