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Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolaño's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth an Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolaño's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition.Nazi Literature in the Americas is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works, plus an epilogue ("for Monsters"), which includes even briefer biographies of persons mentioned in passing. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds. Ernesto Perez Mason, for example, in the sample included here, is an imaginary member of the real Oriacute;genes group in Cuba, and his farcical clashes with Joseacute; Lezama Lima recall stories about the spats between Lezama Lima and Virgilio Pintilde;era, as recounted in Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Mea Cuba. The origins of the imaginary writers are diverse. Authors from twelve different countries are included. The countries with the most representatives are Argentina and the United States.


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Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolaño's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth an Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolaño's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition.Nazi Literature in the Americas is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works, plus an epilogue ("for Monsters"), which includes even briefer biographies of persons mentioned in passing. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds. Ernesto Perez Mason, for example, in the sample included here, is an imaginary member of the real Oriacute;genes group in Cuba, and his farcical clashes with Joseacute; Lezama Lima recall stories about the spats between Lezama Lima and Virgilio Pintilde;era, as recounted in Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Mea Cuba. The origins of the imaginary writers are diverse. Authors from twelve different countries are included. The countries with the most representatives are Argentina and the United States.

30 review for Nazi Literature in the Americas

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    The artists, writers, poets which inhabit this lexicon-type novel breathe the air of history, and all lead individual destinies never devoid of woe. The pursuit of art is presented warts-&-all, & is as realistic of art as it is about the appreciation of art. "Nazi Literature in the Americas" is one prolonged lament. (As if anything R. Bolano ever wrote wasn't one.) The uniqueness of the novel is that it has no plot but has instead the overwhelming urge to collect writers as economically, poignant The artists, writers, poets which inhabit this lexicon-type novel breathe the air of history, and all lead individual destinies never devoid of woe. The pursuit of art is presented warts-&-all, & is as realistic of art as it is about the appreciation of art. "Nazi Literature in the Americas" is one prolonged lament. (As if anything R. Bolano ever wrote wasn't one.) The uniqueness of the novel is that it has no plot but has instead the overwhelming urge to collect writers as economically, poignantly, & as fanatically as one would with baseball player cards. To say this writer appreciates other writers would be a gross understatement. He creates entire mythologies, constructs entire literary movements... which never even occurred! The apocryphal is superbly mixed in with the real. The feeling of being left out, of uncovering only Iceberg tips, in short... of the deprivation of intellect & emotion... this is what this phenomenal novel's really about.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Seemita

    Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go: ….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void. So there I was - witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight. My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, wh Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go: ….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void. So there I was - witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight. My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, who lived under the tremulous skies of Nazism and dabbled in poetry and science fiction, magical realism and political sagas, span the length and breadth of the written word; presenting an inclusive, although explosive, picture of Bolaño’s thoughts that bodes well with establishing acquaintance with his ideologies too, perhaps. The fascist authors, who are mostly Argentine or American languishing under pallidity and the arcane, display a wide array of literary faith: perseverance and manipulation, suppression and connivance, displacement and return, satire and humor; they push originality and also fall prey to plagiarism, they spark the rebel and turn victim too. The aspect, however, that secured my curiosity the tightest was the masterful amalgamation of real places, events and people into these imaginary lives. While there is generous reference to Trotskyism, Falangism, Peronism and the likes, there are veiled questions on the theocratic and Episcopalian diktats. There is generous mention of Borges and Cortázar who are known to have influenced Bolaño in many inspirational ways. Of course, the ingenuity of story-telling that had to befall Bolaño later in his writing career was visible in many of these essays, three of which, I took in with a chortle and awed smirk: in one work, the chapters, so begin, that joining the first letter of each chapter spell HITLER!; in another, a poem is written as a series of maps which upon further deciphering, reveal verses that point to their placement and use and in the last, a book is called Geometry that deploys variations like the barbed-wire fence, to join unrelated verses and provoke meaning out of the criss-cross. Oh there were far too many captivating things in this book and it turned out to be indeed a spectacle close to a chariot ride: slow and heavy at the beginning, loading the substantial thoughts one after another, gingerly finding foothold to attain stability, rolling the bearings forward and backward, hoisting the protagonists while narrating their significance to the ride, hopping cautiously for the initial furlongs and then, gaining speed with a wicked kick and speeding away with the confidence of a wise, chuckling driver. Let me sign off with one of the many flabbergasting paragraphs highlighting Bolaño’s boundless imagination that left my jaw drop with sheer pleasure: ..the action unfolds in a distorted present where nothing is as it seems, or in a distant future full of abandoned, ruined cities, and ominously silent landscapes, similar in many respects to those of the Midwest. His plots abound in providential heroes and mad scientists; hidden clans and tribes which at the ordained time must emerge and do battle with other hidden tribes; secret societies of men in black who meet at isolated ranches on the prairie; private detectives who must search for people lost on other planets; children stolen and raised by inferior races so that, having reached adulthood, they may take control of the tribe and lead it to immolation; unseen animals with insatiable appetites; mutant plants; invisible planets that suddenly become visible; teenage girls offered as human sacrifices; cities of ice with a single inhabitant; cowboys visited by angels; mass migrations destroying everything in their path; underground labyrinths swarming with warrior-monks; plots to assassinate the president of the United States; spaceships fleeing an earth in flames to colonize Jupiter; societies of telepathic killers; children growing up all alone in dark, cold yards.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a real oddity, very clever, ironic and satirical, hardly a novel; more an encyclopedia. Basically it is a list of fascist and ultra right wing authors of the Americas. Each one has a brief biography and analysis of their works, with their dates (some don't pass away until the 2020s). They are generally self deluded, often vicious, mostly mediocre and Bolano sends them all up remorselessly. Their fictional biographies sometimes overlap with real life; Ginsberg, Octavio Paz and Borges pop This is a real oddity, very clever, ironic and satirical, hardly a novel; more an encyclopedia. Basically it is a list of fascist and ultra right wing authors of the Americas. Each one has a brief biography and analysis of their works, with their dates (some don't pass away until the 2020s). They are generally self deluded, often vicious, mostly mediocre and Bolano sends them all up remorselessly. Their fictional biographies sometimes overlap with real life; Ginsberg, Octavio Paz and Borges pop up, as does Bolano himself in a Chilean prison. The general madness, poetic soccer hooligans, struggling publishing houses and outright Nazis can get a little predictable, but Bolano himself explained he was talking as much about the left as the right and indeed about literature. On the whole it's a tour de force and very well written. It all hangs together; there are interrelations between the characters and Bolano pulls it off splendidly.Underneath is a very sharp analysis of fascism and its modes of thought and doctrines, laid bare by Bolano; making them seem as ridiculous as they are. Well worth the effort.

  4. 4 out of 5

    TK421

    Few novels bring me to a place that is best described as that plane one is trapped in before waking from a very lucid dream. You know the place where you can taste the air, feel the colors, where reality and imagination are embraced so thoroughly that borders blend and realign themselves. NAZI LITERATURE IN THE AMERICAS is like that place. Bolano creates a completely fabricated world where poets and novelists and artists mingle with other characters-both fictional and real-as if they were all si Few novels bring me to a place that is best described as that plane one is trapped in before waking from a very lucid dream. You know the place where you can taste the air, feel the colors, where reality and imagination are embraced so thoroughly that borders blend and realign themselves. NAZI LITERATURE IN THE AMERICAS is like that place. Bolano creates a completely fabricated world where poets and novelists and artists mingle with other characters-both fictional and real-as if they were all sitting next to you, as neighbors in a world where divisions and boundaries are merely political jargon that are refused entry into the mind. The shear depth of this world is staggering. The novel is almost a collection of individual stories; the individual stories make this a novel. "How can one person be interlocked with so many others?" I kept asking myself as I read. That is when I began to understand Bolano. You see, Bolano wrote in a manner that was more than storytelling; he was creating. He was making and destroying, alloting, toiling, humoring, and redefining what it means to write fiction. Does it all work? NO. But that is part of the novel's beauty. When it doesn't work that makes it all seem the more real. Life is messy. (At least mine is.) And when you stop to think about all the people that have come in and out of your life (and all of thier stories) you will begin to get an understanding and appreciation for this "modest" novel. To say more would only spoil the surreal entrance one gets as they read. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION

  5. 4 out of 5

    brian

    i spend way too much time making my bookshelves pretty: pruning, arranging, designing... i'm regularly plagued by some pretty critical issues: chronologically? by author? color? size? (y'see... unlike the rest of my shitty and privileged generation who gets all pantiebunched about evil corporations & all them bombs dropped on all them brown people, i actually have serious things on the brain) i fantasize that i'm gonna bring some gorgeous woman back home (please god let it be marisa tomei and/or i spend way too much time making my bookshelves pretty: pruning, arranging, designing... i'm regularly plagued by some pretty critical issues: chronologically? by author? color? size? (y'see... unlike the rest of my shitty and privileged generation who gets all pantiebunched about evil corporations & all them bombs dropped on all them brown people, i actually have serious things on the brain) i fantasize that i'm gonna bring some gorgeous woman back home (please god let it be marisa tomei and/or rosario dawson) and she'll be kind of on the fence and then when she sees all the fantastic books in my collection and how beautiful they all are she'll fuck me all night. and bolano's all about that. he loves books and writers more than me. more than anyone, i think. the man is kinda deranged. but it's not in some egghead annoying hermetically-sealed shut-off-from-humanity way. his books explode with cigarette-smoking scotch-swilling cafe-hanging author-referencing sex-starved book-obsessed maniacs. and the one above? Nazi Literature? could've been a slight literary joke. or seriously dull. but again, books are to bolano what deprivation was to larkin what daffodils were to wordsworth: life. books = life. and this book is alive with both.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    This is an encyclopedia of writers associated with the Nazi Literature movement of the 20th century, focusing mainly on those living in the Americas. It gives each writer a couple of pages of biography and discusses most of their major works. All of it is backed up by an extensive index and a vast bibliography. So far so simple yeah? Oh hell no. This is fucking Bolaño. Y'see, there is no such thing as Nazi Literature. It's all made up. And all of the people discussed in this book? All made up as This is an encyclopedia of writers associated with the Nazi Literature movement of the 20th century, focusing mainly on those living in the Americas. It gives each writer a couple of pages of biography and discusses most of their major works. All of it is backed up by an extensive index and a vast bibliography. So far so simple yeah? Oh hell no. This is fucking Bolaño. Y'see, there is no such thing as Nazi Literature. It's all made up. And all of the people discussed in this book? All made up as well. This is a fictional encyclopedia. None of it is real. I will admit, if you haven't read any Bolaño before then this work will be completely wasted on you. This is Bolaño at his most Bolaño. It is just so weird and fun and strangely tragic. You honestly treat these fictional people as real, living writers. You become intrigued by their oeuvres only to remember it's all made up. It's utterly original and a fine antinovel. It only further elevates Bolaño to the level of a genius.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    This brutal little classic will be only appreciated by misfits, if they're lucky enough to discover it. It's the most recently translated novel of the late Roberto Bolaño (in another handsome edition from New Directions): a volume of invented biographies, detailing the lives and works of fascist litterateurs who never existed. Here is wicked humor of the highest order – but I suspect it will be opaque to anyone innocent of the cruelties of literary gossip masquerading as criticism (and as an occa This brutal little classic will be only appreciated by misfits, if they're lucky enough to discover it. It's the most recently translated novel of the late Roberto Bolaño (in another handsome edition from New Directions): a volume of invented biographies, detailing the lives and works of fascist litterateurs who never existed. Here is wicked humor of the highest order – but I suspect it will be opaque to anyone innocent of the cruelties of literary gossip masquerading as criticism (and as an occasional contributer, I would know). It also helps to have a cursory knowledge of the history of South American fascism, which provides the black backdrop to Bolaño's potted poisoned lives. His tone is insistently aseptic, his evaluations all the more lethal for being neutral in their execution. It's one of the sharpest, funniest books I know, but its hilarity cuts to the bone and is almost indistinguishable from grief.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Abandon ship! Abandon ship! On p41, I admit defeat and Roberto Bolaño wins the archly clever condescending twit sweepstakes hands down.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont

    In Nazi Literature in the Americas Roberto Bolaño - a Chilean writer who sadly died aged fifty in 2003 - has provided the perfect literary companion. It’s an exhaustive collection of pocket obituaries of all the major and many of the minor poets, writers and novelists whose political conservatism took them to the extreme right, who became Nazis or fellow travellers, all of whom were born in the Americas. It’s such a pity we do not have a European equivalent. I confess I had never heard of many of In Nazi Literature in the Americas Roberto Bolaño - a Chilean writer who sadly died aged fifty in 2003 - has provided the perfect literary companion. It’s an exhaustive collection of pocket obituaries of all the major and many of the minor poets, writers and novelists whose political conservatism took them to the extreme right, who became Nazis or fellow travellers, all of whom were born in the Americas. It’s such a pity we do not have a European equivalent. I confess I had never heard of many of the poets, novelists and artists in his exhaustive anthology. No, I’ll go further: I had never heard of any of them. But perhaps that’s just the nature of the subject, that and the fact that most of them were miserable failures who came to rather bleak and lonely ends. For those of you who are in as much ignorance as I am over this subject the author has helpfully provided a good summary at the end. There is also a decent bibliography, with the main works of the poets, writers and novelists listed, together with their place and date of publication. I’m glancing over it now, as I write and as I think. My eye is immediately drawn to The Birth of the New City Force by Gustavo Borda, published in Mexico City in 2005. I pause, surprised. Obviously there is something wrong. Remember, Bolaño died in 2003. He could not possibly know about this book, first appearing two years later. It must be a misprint. But then there is Untitled, a posthumous novel by Zach Sondenstern, published in Los Angeles in 2023, thirteen years from now. Thirteen years! Bolaño could not know this; I could not know this; you could not know this. I apologise; I’m being deeply disingenuous, as those of you who have already read this book will know. For, you see, it’s not an encyclopedia at all: it’s a novel, though one of the strangest that you are ever likely to encounter. It’s a deadpan anthology, darkly humorous at points, bitingly ironic, of people who never existed, poems never written and novels never published. I would go further: it’s a literary zoo, a collection of people who could never exist. Bolaño, whom I am only just discovering, is from the same place and the same tradition as Jorge Luis Borges. We are in the same territory, in other words, as The Universal History of Infamy and Borges’ other brilliant fictions, which exist in a half-world between truth and inventiveness. Nazi Literature in the Americas, first published in Spanish in 1996, owes a considerable debt to Borges. Bolaño has the same imaginative and creative facility, if not the same economy of genius. His book is the world of the impish imagination; his creations for the most part grotesque and, for me, outrageously funny. There is the Brazilian Luiz Fontaine Da Souza, who writes obsessive, and eye-wateringly lengthy, multi-volume refutations of the carriers of the modern idea, from Montesquieu to Sartre ( the latter’s Being and Nothingness is a particular obsession!). There is Zach Sodenstern, the American who wrote the Gunther O’Connell series of science fiction novels, whose hero has a German Sheppard dog with telepathic powers and Nazi tendencies! And then there is my personal favourite, Carlos Ramirez Hoffman, a Chilean poet in the pay of Pinochet’s death squads, who composes poetry in the sky in a plane fitted with smoke canisters, to “write out his nightmares, which were our nightmares too, for the wind to obliterate.” I have a feeling that both the Futurists and Dadaists would have adored him! And so it goes on. Bolaño does not just invent people and ideas, he invents complete schools of literature, including French ‘barbaric’ writing, lead by a retired Parisian concierge much given to urinating on the novels of Stendhal! The whole thing is a great pastiche. In the sense the subject matter is almost irrelevant, in that the real explorations here are into words and ideas, to the imaginative and creative use of language in a brilliantly playful fashion. It’s the work of a literary trickster, the Loki of the imagination. The real love, the inner love, is that of books and all they have to offer. There is, of course, another possibility, another piece of Borges-style magic. Bolaño has created an alternate literary universe, one peopled by obsessives, cranks and literary mediocrities. Goebbels once lamented that National Socialism seemed incapable of creating great art. What he did not understand, what he could not understand, was that such a thing was impossible, because great works of art can only be created by minds that are free to roam without restriction. In the Goebbels universe the only art that could exist is that of the oddities who populate the pages of Nazi Literature in the Americas.

  10. 4 out of 5

    AC

    This book is not for everyone - it requires that you are already in on Bolaño's prosopographical (inside) jokes (if you are, much of this is hysterical); love his jungle of proper nouns - reminiscent of Whitman or Catullus, but lusher -- and have a serious interest in understanding the pathologies of fascism and Nazism. For what Bolaño offers here is nothing less than a filleting of the psychology/pathology of fascism -- on the premise that fascism is not a doctrine (not wholly true), but a mood This book is not for everyone - it requires that you are already in on Bolaño's prosopographical (inside) jokes (if you are, much of this is hysterical); love his jungle of proper nouns - reminiscent of Whitman or Catullus, but lusher -- and have a serious interest in understanding the pathologies of fascism and Nazism. For what Bolaño offers here is nothing less than a filleting of the psychology/pathology of fascism -- on the premise that fascism is not a doctrine (not wholly true), but a mood, a sentiment, a virus... an "instinct in the soul" (Maurice Bardèche), this is precisely (one of) the right approach(es). Bolaño is one of the great anti-fascist writers of our times -- and serves to warn us, from his grave, of the dangers that the fascist international (always hiding under different names and different romances) poses in the coming century. (For an example of what I mean by the 'lyrical' element in Nazism, see the appendices to this book - the two letters written by Cioran in the mid or early-30's that express his "love", admiration, and exaltation of Hitler: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31... -- a sentiment that proves to have been quite widespread in Romantic circles in Europe at this time. There are photos of Hitler entering Austria by car at the Anschluss, where the women lining the street are screaming orgasmically as if he were one of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.) Finally, regarding the lyrical fascist aesthetic, here is Susan Sontag's 1974 NYRB article on "Fascinating Fascism" and Leni Riefenstahl, which makes many of the essential points, and is a must read: http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/m... And don't skip the Epilogue, with its lists of "Secondary Figures" and "Publishing Houses"... e.g. Eugenio Entrescu. Bacau, Rumania, 1905 - Kishinev, Ukraine, 1944. Rumanian General. During the Second World War he distinguished himself in the capture of Odessa, the Siege of Sebastopol and the Battle of Stalingrad. Erect, his member was exactly twelve inches long, half an inch longer than that of Dan Carmine [see ad loc.]. He commanded the 20th Division, the 14th Division and the 3rd Infantry Corps. His soldiers crucified him in a village near Kishinev. or... María Teresa Greco. New Jersey, 1936 - Orlando, 2004. Argentino Schiaffino's [see ad loc.] second wife. According to eye-witnesses she was tall, thin and bony, a sort of ghost or incarnation of the will. The final chapter, "The Infamous Ramirez Hoffman" is the chapter that was expanded into Distant Star. I agree w/ others (William) that this is not the book to start with, for Bolaño, and think that Distant Star and Last Evenings on Earth are the place to start. But for those with the strange and requisite interests, this book has much to offer.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I kept waiting for something - a revelation, a common thread - to draw the narrative together and bring it into focus, but there was nothing. I searched for common themes, something to unify the novel, but there is very little of this nature. It seems that the brief, fictional biographies are simply to be taken for what they are, in and of themselves. There is humour there, and intelligence, and a wild imagination, but for me these things weren't enough. I'm hesitant to reward such ambition and I kept waiting for something - a revelation, a common thread - to draw the narrative together and bring it into focus, but there was nothing. I searched for common themes, something to unify the novel, but there is very little of this nature. It seems that the brief, fictional biographies are simply to be taken for what they are, in and of themselves. There is humour there, and intelligence, and a wild imagination, but for me these things weren't enough. I'm hesitant to reward such ambition and creativity with a low rating, and I trust Bolaño enough to believe that Nazi Literature in the Americas is a brilliantly subtle and intricate work, but I am personally too far removed from its context. Overall, it was a little too esoteric for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    In the one notorious ‘Book’ in 2666, Bolano numbs his reader with one vignette of rape and murder after another. They read like a police blotter. In Nazi Literature in the Americas, one capsule biography of an extreme right-wing writer follows another. They read like encyclopedia entries. There’s an ostensible simplicity there; but this is not just some mere exposition of cleverness. I mean, it can’t just be that, can it? (Whenever I make some pretense of discussing what a work of fiction really In the one notorious ‘Book’ in 2666, Bolano numbs his reader with one vignette of rape and murder after another. They read like a police blotter. In Nazi Literature in the Americas, one capsule biography of an extreme right-wing writer follows another. They read like encyclopedia entries. There’s an ostensible simplicity there; but this is not just some mere exposition of cleverness. I mean, it can’t just be that, can it? (Whenever I make some pretense of discussing what a work of fiction really means, I always offer the disclaimer that: I don’t know. And I really don’t. Just thinking out loud on the keyboard.) Bolano writes about Evil (with a capital E). And nothing epitomizes evil like the Third Reich. So, Bolano goes again and again to that Nazi well. Which is nice for a reader (looking around my very quiet office) who doesn’t like to burn too many brain cells trying to spot the allegory. There is no hidden DSM-V denouement; no child abuse or bedwetting or near death experience to add explanation. Evil Is. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at it. Among the poems of John Brock that Bolano assures us “merit special attention” is Street Without a Name: “a text in which quotations from MacLeish and Conrad Aiken are combined with the menus of the Orange County jail and the pederastic dreams of a literature professor who taught classes for the prisoners on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” Bolano has that kind of mind. My guess is that that came out in one take. There are quick bios of 100 or so made-up writers and artists. Here’s just two: Arthur Crane. New Orleans, 1947 – Los Angeles, 1989. Poet. Author of a number of important books, including Homosexual Heaven and Disciplining Children. He indulged his suicidal tendencies by frequenting the underworld and hanging out with lowlifes. Others smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. Antonio Lacouture. Buenos Aires, 1943 – Buenos Aires, 1999. Argentinean military officer. He defeated subversives but lost the Falklands. An expert in the “submarine” technique and the application of electrodes. He invented a game using mice. The sound of his voice made prisoners tremble. He received various decorations. Some of the “dates of death” for these writers are beyond the date of publication and beyond today, as I write this: 2021, 2022, 2015, 2029. Again, I don’t know and maybe it’s all too simple, but Evil exists, it is. It did not end at Nuremburg with a few well-deserved hangings. Evil is embedded and lasts. At least until 2666.

  13. 5 out of 5

    William2

    The format of this fiction is as a biographical guide to Nazi writers, pre- and post-World War II. I was expecting the "entries" to tie together into some sort of recognizable narrative. Bolaño does not do this. Indeed, Bolaño is not even interested in this. Each entry is freestanding and could be subtracted from the whole as easily as, say, new entries could be added. While there is some cross-pollination it doesn't pull the disparate parts together into a story. While the book has relevance fo The format of this fiction is as a biographical guide to Nazi writers, pre- and post-World War II. I was expecting the "entries" to tie together into some sort of recognizable narrative. Bolaño does not do this. Indeed, Bolaño is not even interested in this. Each entry is freestanding and could be subtracted from the whole as easily as, say, new entries could be added. While there is some cross-pollination it doesn't pull the disparate parts together into a story. While the book has relevance for Bolano's œuvre as a whole, it is not the place to start if you are new to this author. I would recommend first trying By Night In Chile or Distant Star or Amulet or Monsieur Pain or 2666.

  14. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    An alternative literary history. Bolaño holds a mirror up to the fascist blowhards canonised by the establishment with his cast of lovable Nazi sympathisers. This is basically a book of spurious biographical details about spurious writers. How it manages to be a rip-roaring and bum-loving read is part of its magical sway. Recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    How does the question of evil arise? By retracing the life and works of around thirty fictional authors of the 20th century fascinated by fascism or Nazism, this anthology of the infamous, but delectable in its form, finds a unique way to ask this question. "Nazi Literature in America" ​​is a fascinating and dizzying book, by the profusion of details in the invention, a biography of the authors and their classification by categories. The details provided on correspondence, notes, the dedications, How does the question of evil arise? By retracing the life and works of around thirty fictional authors of the 20th century fascinated by fascism or Nazism, this anthology of the infamous, but delectable in its form, finds a unique way to ask this question. "Nazi Literature in America" ​​is a fascinating and dizzying book, by the profusion of details in the invention, a biography of the authors and their classification by categories. The details provided on correspondence, notes, the dedications, the supports, the lists of criticisms and insults with which the authors showered, the information on the structure of the poems, the speculations on the authors' intentions, the links between the fictitious authors, etc. "Among the qualifiers used by his critics are the following: paleonazi, crazy, a standard-bearer of the bourgeoisie, puppet of capitalism, agent of the CIA, bad poets with cretinizing intentions, plagiarist of Euguren, plagiarist of Salazar Bondy, plagiarist of St -John Perse [...], a henchman of the cesspools, junk prophet, rapist of the Spanish language, versifier with satanic intentions, a product of provincial education, people who show wealth to get attention, hallucinated mestizo, etc." A dizzying book also by its double-bottom, when it tells anecdotes itself invented in lives that are just as much, or when Bolaño evokes manuscripts that never existed, burned by their author for lack of publisher. "About his life in Havana after his release from prison, an infinite number of anecdotes are told, mostly invented. It is said that he was a police informer, that he wrote speeches and harangues for a famous politician of the regime, that he founded a secret sect of fascist poets and assassins, that he visited all the writers, painters, musicians by asking them to intercede for him with the authorities. " This work is fascinating finally by the irony and the leniency with which the authors are treated here ("its infinite enthusiasm compensates its accidental lack of verbal rigour"), never to lose sight of the fact that "real" literature is itself, the vehicle of barbarism.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    This novel is a brilliantly-conceived OuLiPo-style formal game: it's a collection of short biographies of imaginary Nazi writers from Chile to Canada from the nineteen thirties well into the twenty-first century (some years after the date of the novel's publication!). Probably the inspiration for the non-narrative format, French writer Georges Perec, is name-checked--and Bolano himself has a kind of cameo in the last chapter/bio. Along the way the short bios cleverly weave in many of the cultura This novel is a brilliantly-conceived OuLiPo-style formal game: it's a collection of short biographies of imaginary Nazi writers from Chile to Canada from the nineteen thirties well into the twenty-first century (some years after the date of the novel's publication!). Probably the inspiration for the non-narrative format, French writer Georges Perec, is name-checked--and Bolano himself has a kind of cameo in the last chapter/bio. Along the way the short bios cleverly weave in many of the cultural touchstones that go hand-in-hand with Nazism: football, serial killing, woman/foreigner hating and racism, failed machismo, aviation, and economic humiliation, the red scare etc., etc. There's also--surprisingly--plenty of variety and commentary on the varying aspects of Spanish, German, and Italian fascism, as well as variety in the type of writing, from autobiography to formal verse, soccer memoir to science fiction, it's all here. Nicely done, a hoot to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    Bolaño’s exquisite work here is underappreciated in a lot of circles for one virtue: it’s a whole mess a goddamn fun. Sure he’s working out of a Latin-American tradition of fictions-within-fictions; he calls bullshit on himself for it slyly throughout the book. I think any read benefits from having a running knowledge of at least some of the real authors that he peppers throughout. But even if you have zero context, there's such glee on these pages (I wore gloves) that it is hard to resist getti Bolaño’s exquisite work here is underappreciated in a lot of circles for one virtue: it’s a whole mess a goddamn fun. Sure he’s working out of a Latin-American tradition of fictions-within-fictions; he calls bullshit on himself for it slyly throughout the book. I think any read benefits from having a running knowledge of at least some of the real authors that he peppers throughout. But even if you have zero context, there's such glee on these pages (I wore gloves) that it is hard to resist getting caught up in the excitement. Special mention must go out to the ‘Speculative Fiction’ chapter, as Bolaño’s clearly having way too much fun coming up with sci-fi storylines and titles. His enthusiasm is infectious and surprisingly sweet, even as it lampoons the hell out of that most ridiculed of genres. More than a few made me chortle, three made me guffaw. I glee'd once, prematurely. Bolaño’s is a mordant sense of humor than never bubbles anywhere near demonstrative. Assuming the pose of ‘history’ to satirize some institutional sacred cows expose them to be the paper tigers that they really are. The previous sentence is an absolutely stellar example of idiom abuse. I, robot, digress. In my opinion, his brio should be respected and celebrated. Poor sonofabitch had to go and die at 50, robbing the world of a man who knew the back roads to a good piss-take and wrote flawlessly. But I see that Rupert Murdoch is still alive, so, you know, I guess life’s fair after all. Touché, Beelzebub.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) So have you heard yet about the strange saga of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño? Born in the 1950s, a globetrotting vagabond and revolutionary activist most of his youth, one who just barely escaped the Pinochet coup of the '70s, Bolaño ended up settling down for the first time in the '80s and cranking (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) So have you heard yet about the strange saga of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño? Born in the 1950s, a globetrotting vagabond and revolutionary activist most of his youth, one who just barely escaped the Pinochet coup of the '70s, Bolaño ended up settling down for the first time in the '80s and cranking out serious literature for the first time as well; and almost immediately his works started getting hailed by his fellow South and Central American intellectuals, with him for example by the late '90s being called by many down there the most important writer of his generation, and with his masterpiece The Savage Detectives being called by critic Ignacio Echevarria in those years "the novel that Borges would have written." Sadly, though, Bolaño died of a liver disorder in 2003, just a few years before his work started getting widely published in English for the first time; and thus it is that we here in the English-speaking world are just now going through a big literary crush on Bolaño for the first time these days, after he has already died and has left behind a definitively finite amount of work. Take, for example, today's book under review, the slim and experimental Nazi Literature in the Americas; it was actually originally published in its native Spanish in 1996, but not in English until just a few months ago, making it actually being considered a "new" book here at CCLaP today and eligible for the "best of 2008" list at the end of the year. And it's an odd book too, more of a clever artistic game than a full-fledged novel, its concept being just what you would imagine with such a title; it is a fictional reference guide to several dozen supposed fascism-friendly authors and other right-wing intellectuals, all of whom supposedly lived in either North, Central or South America at one time or another in history. And not only that, but it's set in the future, making this not only a fake history that references real events (the Nazi flight to South America after WWII, the various revolutions that took place there in the '70s), but also partly science-fiction as well, detailing a completely fictional moment in future history when a neo-fascist movement apparently catches on in North America quite intensely. (And let's not forget, this was written in 1996, long before 9/11 and the neocon Bush administration.) It's a fascinating and frustrating book, one you can tell comes from the very beginning of Bolaño's career; and that's because the stuff that's there is just so clever and so fascinating, but ultimately there's simply not enough there to make it a truly great novel. In fact, the entire manuscript is only a padded-out 200 pages, and actually written in the style of a reference guide, thumbnail sketches of each writer with very few connective threads between them; like I said, it feels more like spending an afternoon at Wikipedia than it does reading a full and mature novel. That said, though, what's there is fantastic; it is a complicated, realistic look at how various right-wing theories about the world have been justified and rationalized over the decades by well-meaning but deluded intellectuals and philosophers, how it's not just dogma alone that has inspired such people but also personal loss, love lives, a certain affinity for certain geographical locations at certain moments in history, and all kinds of other complicated factors. Now, granted, let's just admit, the more of a well-read academe you are, the more you're going to enjoy Nazi Literature in the Americas; as mentioned, for example, I've read online many times now that this book takes on the structure of a typical Borges project, but I'm completely and utterly unfamiliar with Borges myself so couldn't even begin to tell you if that's true. There are a lot of moments in this manuscript that feel like this, to tell you the truth; moments where you can just feel the story going over your head, feel the actual wind as it whips by you, steeped so deeply as it is in the history of obscure left-wing radical South American political groups, barely-known performance artists of the early Modernist age, and other topics you usually only hear discussed among a group of MFA weenies at some museum cocktail fundraiser. And in fact, you could almost see this book as a Bolaño dig at the very people who started embracing him and his work when he himself reached middle age; because frankly, of the dozens of fictional writers and playwrights and artists who Bolaño "covers" in this book, not a one of them ever rise above relative obscurity during their own careers, mostly only known among a handful of college professors who have devoted their entire adult lives to studying only this subject. Given how explosive he could've made the lives of these fictional fascists, I think it says something that he made them barely-known academes instead; I have a feeling that Bolaño had a deliberate point to make by doing so. But like I said, Bolaño ultimately pulls this book out of the academic mudhole, precisely by adding the fascinating science-fictiony elements that he does; this whole idea that about twenty years after the novel's original publication, there would be this underground neo-fascist movement in the US and Canada that would bubble up into perhaps the most infamous collection of this entire fake history, a group calling itself "The Fourth Reich" that at least got its crap together enough to found a publishing company, to start sponsoring artists, to start getting work actually disseminated. It opens up the mind, opens up the story too, makes it much more of an interesting general-interest tale than specifically a reference-heavy literary exercise just for creative-writing students (although make no mistake, it's that too). It's a flawed work, one that belies Bolaño's relative inexperience as a writer at that point; but Nazi Literature in the Americas is also a fascinating book as well, one that easily makes me want to rush out and read the rest of his ouevre now too. It is generally recommended today, and especially for all you grad students and professors out there. Out of 10: Story: 7.9 Characters: 9.5 Style: 8.0 Overall: 8.6

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vilma

    Traditional 19th century style novels, with a beginning, middle and end part, with their ways, their causes and consequences, their linear time frame, are finished, dead and gone even that doesnt mean they dont continue being written and are sold fairly or even successfully well. One likes them because they can be understood more easily. Even Roberto Bolaño never wrote a novel which cannot be understood, almost all of these features are more or less absent from his works. All this does not mean w Traditional 19th century style novels, with a beginning, middle and end part, with their ways, their causes and consequences, their linear time frame, are finished, dead and gone even that doesnt mean they dont continue being written and are sold fairly or even successfully well. One likes them because they can be understood more easily. Even Roberto Bolaño never wrote a novel which cannot be understood, almost all of these features are more or less absent from his works. All this does not mean we dont have some keys to approach the works of Bolaño but what are those keys exactly? Lets go for a hunt, shall we? Some ideas exploited in his works are eg finding forgotten poets, those who were falling for one reason or the other into oblivion. Of course there are some recurring motifs as well: namely violence; passion for literature; poets maudits who yearn to create the most ephemeral art imaginable; a narrative that follows a paragraph to move from one corner of the world to another; outsider characters who are also writers regardless if they actually use pen and paper; a mockery of the (academic) literary world; detective stories; a world of traveling and murder; and alot of dark humor. Lets not forget all the cross-references to all his other novels. Characters who appear as a side-kick in one and play a major rule in another. Hence I am convinced that Bolaño is best read as an entity, that a distinction between his several novels shall not be made and that it would be erraneous to try to read them as stand-alone books. (btw dont panic, he is one of the most prolific dead writers ever so there is plenty to cut your teeth into). And a Roberto Bolaño that towards the end of his novel is stepping out of the shadows, removing his mask and finally declares himself to be the narrator and a fictionalized character in his own novels. Nazi Literature in the Americas has a misleading title which could one make falsely think its an essay but alas, it is not. It is a curious dictionary-like manual of fictional rightwing/Nazi/football hooligan authors with an overview of their body of work and above all about their lives. Sometimes their lives are picturesque, sometimes dull and boring. Its a collection of 30 biographical accounts, stylish and with a captivating lightness with proposed and engaging stories in which dilemmas and paradoxes range from the beginning to the end, related to ethics and aesthetics, morality and literature. Bolaño looks at the ideas and actions of those people who are despicable but at the same time show a great sensitivity to literature. Finally, in the epilogue are listed some of the most important secondary characters, magazines and publishing houses that converge with those named in this dictionary-manual. It gives an impression which is creepy, that it could continue detailing their particular literary universe until infinity. Also two of the authors are not dead yet, they will die in the year 2015 and 2029 respectively, despite their biographies are already closed. Which makes me think that the narrator is in fact Arturo Belano, who is still walking around alive and kicking. Roberto Bolaño, however, converts ancedotes and circumstances to play with meanings to make a parody of those real-life Nazi writers who are out there, among us all. 4,5 stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Christopher Wilson Baltimore (Maryland), 1977 -- Kalamazoo (Michigan), 2055 In 2008, Wilson was enthralled by the story of the New Jersey couple who publicly feuded with a timid grocery store establishment that unconstitutionally refused to bake a swastika cake for their son, Adolf. It was during this time that Wilson decided to fight political correctness through baby names. Having spent the greater part of the previous decade toiling away in the federal government, Wilson had developed a predile Christopher Wilson Baltimore (Maryland), 1977 -- Kalamazoo (Michigan), 2055 In 2008, Wilson was enthralled by the story of the New Jersey couple who publicly feuded with a timid grocery store establishment that unconstitutionally refused to bake a swastika cake for their son, Adolf. It was during this time that Wilson decided to fight political correctness through baby names. Having spent the greater part of the previous decade toiling away in the federal government, Wilson had developed a predilection for acronyms. With a son named Connor in tow and another boy on the way, Wilson decided that he would attack the liberal establishment with more subtlety than his predecessors. He named his second son Oliver. Then came the twin girls, Maddie and Molly. Then came Udolf (a rather obvious hint) followed by Nancy, Irene, and Samuel. From all accounts, Wilson's wife was unaware of his ulterior motives up until the day she died giving birth to their ninth child, Miles. With his message far from complete, Wilson spent the next year courting young women with wide hips. He eventually married an Argentinian woman who claimed to be Diego Maradona's second cousin. Within weeks she was pregnant and within a few more weeks her stomach had grown to four times its original size. Wilson and his new bride soon discovered that she was pregnant with quintuplets. After giving birth to the litter of babies, Wilson's second wife died from childbirth complications involving amniotic fluid entering her bloodstream. Exhausted and overwhelmed at the thought of finding another wife, Wilson decided to cut his message short. He gave the quintuplets the following names: Brandon, Lauren, Oscar, Wyatt, and Sharon. Wilson never revealed what his original message was going to be but insisted that the message as it stood was able to get his point across, albeit less eloquently than he had originally planned. Wilson spent the latter part of his life writing poetry and spending no more than a year in any one city. His poem "Wizard" hinted that his nomadic life was another one of his subtle acronym messages. The last three known cities where he lived were Kansas City, Missouri, Kennebunkport, Maine, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he died from skin cancer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sentimental Surrealist

    A tricky book to pin down tonally, in that it's at once the funniest and one of the most eglaic of Bolano's books. I say "book" and not "novel" because it doesn't really read like a novel; it seems more like a collection of short stories, a superior version of Borges' A Universal History of Iniquity. See, Bolano understands that his Nazi writers (mostly poets, although there are some playwrights and prose writers as well) are pretty close to talentless and not anywhere near as good as their ambi A tricky book to pin down tonally, in that it's at once the funniest and one of the most eglaic of Bolano's books. I say "book" and not "novel" because it doesn't really read like a novel; it seems more like a collection of short stories, a superior version of Borges' A Universal History of Iniquity. See, Bolano understands that his Nazi writers (mostly poets, although there are some playwrights and prose writers as well) are pretty close to talentless and not anywhere near as good as their ambitions would suggest. As such, the funniest moments come from when Bolano breaks the academic tone and blatantly insults one of his subjects. Yet, despite Bolano's disgust for their right-wing ideologies and his pity for their lack of talent, there's an odd admiration on display. Nobody would compile this sort of project without having a certain fondness for these fascinating and reprehensible creations of Bolano's, and while they're displayed as pretentious, petty, and hateful, they still receive subtle salutes for their ambition anyway. I, for one, have been forced to retrospectively contemplate which moments in this collection were Bolano being sarcastic and which were him conferring sincere praise on subjects that might be thought indefensible. It's also astounding how much mileage Bolano gets out of such a simple concept. Every fictional writer has their own distinctive personality and a body of work that is definitely theirs; furthermore, they were all drawn towards the far right for different reasons. These aren't just interchangeable Nazis: there are terrifying serial killers (see "The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman," later remade into Distant Star, but I prefer it as a short piece), there are aristocrats, paranoids and pendants to be found among Bolano's writers. What it amounts to is an insightful satire, as well as a revealing glimpse into the psychology of the right. Underrated.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Conrad

    When Amalfitano subjects his pharmacist to a short mental screed about the drawbacks of writers' minor works in 2666, this is exactly the kind of thing he's talking about. A series of biographical sketches of fictional western-hemisphere writers with far-right sympathies, it'll take you no more than two or three hours to read. In its personalization of its characters' politics, it offers a bit of a clue to Bolano's modus operandi; it's just not as inventive as you'd like it to be, and not as inv When Amalfitano subjects his pharmacist to a short mental screed about the drawbacks of writers' minor works in 2666, this is exactly the kind of thing he's talking about. A series of biographical sketches of fictional western-hemisphere writers with far-right sympathies, it'll take you no more than two or three hours to read. In its personalization of its characters' politics, it offers a bit of a clue to Bolano's modus operandi; it's just not as inventive as you'd like it to be, and not as inventive as its great premise lead me to believe it was going to be, anyway. You can look at it as a bunch of habits of thought to avoid, or as an archaeological study of the aftershocks of World War II and the wars of ideology that followed. The Phalangists and fanatics herein are sometimes cliched - especially the two repressed homosexual poets who join the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War - but more often surprising, like the Haitian plagiarist and the murderer who writes nihilistic verse across the sky. There are plenty of Fascist versifiers who you're supposed to sympathize with, like the woman who turns to pieties of the far Right in her efforts to liberate herself from a Communist husband who beats her. Juxtaposed against the more cynical exploitation of literature by some untalented hacks (like the soccer-fiend, poetry-writing gang members) and the out-there efforts of the P.K. Dick-like writers who use Nazism as more of an aesthetic than political dictum, you get the feeling Bolano is trying to tell us: yes, these people are all nutjobs, and a lot of them are truly ill-intentioned, but some of them had their reasons. The very tippy-toe end - which has an actual plot, one I won't spoil - suggested to me that the smug, routine abhorrence of fascism should perhaps not preclude a touch of mercy. You just don't need a book to do that, and doing so seems a little beneath Bolano in the first place. I'd actively discourage people interested in Bolano's work from reading this first, but I'm still glad I've read it - the continuities between this and the world of 2666 (paging General Enterescu?) make it worthwhile as a coda, at least, and there are hints of the wry third-person voice Bolano got so good at later.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Praj

    Bolano puts forth a compilation of 30 peculiar biographies of fictitious Pan American writers in the 20th century accentuating quite a few brazen out supremacists, interlaced with the triviality of malevolence and complex yet vibrant inhabitations of bizarre hermits spurning volatile prose and erudite parody of eccentric cerebral subjugation. Although not Bolano’s treasure, it does illuminate the excruciating passion and mordant stupor he is reputed for.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Perfect bedtime reading. Short chapters, all to the point. I loved this book while I was reading it, and then discovered an even profounder respect for this book when I was typing up my notes about it. It combines a penchant for indexicality with fervent imaginings and astute critical intelligence. If you value all three as highly as I do, this is a perfect book. Here are examples of the kind of writing you will be treated to: She dreamed of studying architecture and designing grandiose schools t Perfect bedtime reading. Short chapters, all to the point. I loved this book while I was reading it, and then discovered an even profounder respect for this book when I was typing up my notes about it. It combines a penchant for indexicality with fervent imaginings and astute critical intelligence. If you value all three as highly as I do, this is a perfect book. Here are examples of the kind of writing you will be treated to: She dreamed of studying architecture and designing grandiose schools to be built in parts of the country as yet untouched by civilization. An anthology of work by young, well-bred poets whose aesthetic objectives included avoiding cacophony, vulgar expressions and ugly-sounding words sold unexpectedly well. She remained lucid (or "furious" as she liked to say) to the end. might be volcanoes or printing defects setup: He had what it takes to fail spectacularly: even his earliest works have a discernible style of their own, an aesthetic direction that he would follow with hardly a deviation until the day he died. payoff: Schürholz was an experimental poet. Both reading and humiliation were to be constant features in his life. a novel about friendship, full of exhaustive all-night conversations seventy line poem dedicated to a weasel According to eyewitnesses, he spent his last hours very calmly reading his own poems if you don't like this kind of writing, and the following excerpt in particular, this book is not for you, there's just no hope for your sense of humor or intelligence: A lesson clear as water. It is time to put an end to democracy. Why are so many Nazis still alive? Take Hess, for example, who would have made it to a hundred if he hadn't committed suicide. What makes them live so long? what makes them almost immortal? the blood they spilled? the flight of the Book? a new level of consciousness? The charismatic Church of California went underground. A labyrinth where Ernst and Leni went on fucking, unable to uncouple, like a pair of dogs on fire in a valley of sheep. In a valley of blind sheep? A valley of hypnotized sheep? My voice is hypnotizing them, thought Rory Long. But what is the secret of longevity? Purity. Searching, working, preparing for the millenium on various levels. And some nights he felt that he was touching the body of the New Man with the tips of his fingers. He lost a hundred pounds. Ernst and Leni were fucking in the sky for him. And he realized that this was no vulgar, if torrid, hypnotic therapy, but the veritable Host of Fire. Then he went completely crazy and Cunning occupied every nook of his body. He had money, fame, and good lawyers. He had radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and television networks. And he has robust good health, until one midday in March 2017, when a young African-American man named Baldwin Rocha blew his head off.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    One of his best books. Yes, very different from the rest, but important none the less. I recommend it to all readers of great Fiction. Yes, it is fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brent Legault

    Nazi Literature in the Americas, by Roberto Bolaño, New York, 2008. A collection of faux-criticism and thumbnail biographies of authors who never existed beyond the pages of this book (and others in his oeuvre). The style is direct, written for the public rather than the academic and marred by only a handful of clichés (which may have mushroomed up in translation). Humor is dry but ever-present. Much of the text is told in summary and therefore a bit distant but an occasional "scene" slips throu Nazi Literature in the Americas, by Roberto Bolaño, New York, 2008. A collection of faux-criticism and thumbnail biographies of authors who never existed beyond the pages of this book (and others in his oeuvre). The style is direct, written for the public rather than the academic and marred by only a handful of clichés (which may have mushroomed up in translation). Humor is dry but ever-present. Much of the text is told in summary and therefore a bit distant but an occasional "scene" slips through, most remarkably in the final "chapter" entitled The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman, where Bolaño steps out from behind his writing desk and gives himself a part to play. On page 92 we learn that what we are reading is more than satire or post-modern fun but also (mildly) science fiction. Later, deep within the index, we know that Nazi Literature in the Americas has been "published" sometime after 2040. What we don't know is why. This book will be compared, no doubt, to Pale Fire but it does not puzzle and pester us in the same way. It does not surprise us in the same either. The title may cause discomfort to family members. Your Jewish wife, for example, might give you one of her "looks." Reassure her by reading (craftily selected) passages aloud. Though, because of its form, it will never be called a "page turner" (except in jest), any intelligent reader will profit from turning its pages. Borgesians should be particularly delighted. And there is at least one imaginary book described within that I wish really did exist: Poe's Room, an artless "response" to his Philosophy of Furniture. Boloño, Roberto. Santiago, 1953 - Blanes, 2003. Chilean author who, until recently, was mostly unknown in the United States. However, since the success of his The Savage Detectives, he has become the (I can't believe I'm going to use this word) literati's "must read."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean A.

    Seemed like an appropriate read given the current political climates. Also; The Bolano stories and novellas fall into two camps; lesser mastery and greater mastery. This one was a mixture for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Griffin Alexander

    Probably Bolaño's most fun and (dare I say) experimental. He really relishes here what in other novels he makes himself hold back from, e.g.,: fake authors, long lists, false bibliographies, absurd titles for fake books, lots of references to obscure/forgotten Latin American greats, lots of references (disparaging) to famous Latin American greats, intertextuality with characters in his later work, lots of general shit talking—this book is a long meditation on these indulgences. All of this is sw Probably Bolaño's most fun and (dare I say) experimental. He really relishes here what in other novels he makes himself hold back from, e.g.,: fake authors, long lists, false bibliographies, absurd titles for fake books, lots of references to obscure/forgotten Latin American greats, lots of references (disparaging) to famous Latin American greats, intertextuality with characters in his later work, lots of general shit talking—this book is a long meditation on these indulgences. All of this is swathed in the very unfunny premise of writing a comprehensive history (very similar [I think it must have been the model in mind] to Anderson-Imbert's Spanish American Literature: A History) of Nazi writers in North and South America. This is the first full novel I read in Spanish, and as such there was a lot of picking up and putting down and a lot of time spent with English/Spanish dictionary next to me (FYI 'Barra Brava' isn't in there). It took me (on and off) about five months to read this book, though every time I started again I found myself rereading older sections, retracing strange twists of plot and life/lineage of these fake authors, and found myself astounded at Bolaño's repeated mastery here in the strange emotional minutiae I have come to love him for. It was a pleasure to read this book for this long (and to read it in a language at which I am only competent at) because it made me take the time with each chapter, with each proffered life that was grown and snuffed out before my tired readerly eyes—in translation I probably would have burnt through it in an afternoon, there would not have been this process of reading, rereading, and savoring. Further there is a certain elegance to Bolaño's spanish that I never gleaned from the translations (though I've seen it at work in his poetry), similar to how Borges' baroque crotchitiness in english becomes terse and poetic when returned to its original words. Take some of these chapter names as an example and compare them with their english counterparts: "Los Héroes Móviles o la Fragilidad de los Espejos"/"Itinerant Heroes or the Fragility of Mirrors";"Precursores y Antiilustrados"/"Forerunners and Figures of the Anti-Enlightenment";"Los Poetas Malditos"/"Poètes Maudits";"Letradas y Viajeras"/"Wandering Women of Letters";"Dos Alemanes en el Fin Del Mundo"/"Two Germans at the Ends of the Earth";"Visión, Ciencia-Ficción"/"Speculative and Science Fiction";"Magos, Mercenarios, Miserables"/"Magicians, Mercenaries and Miserable Creatures";"Las Mil Caras de Max Mirebalais"/"The Many Masks of Max Mirebalais." Their English counterparts are clumsy due to their literalness, or when not literal come off as merely inadequate, lacking nuance. Though this is to be expected with any translation, it was a pleasure for once to be able to bypass that and get down to the work itself. Which is all to say in a long roundabout way: this is a great book, and for me is by far the best of shorter Bolaño that I've read—it might even have to be tacked onto the category of major Bolaño along with The Savage Detectives and 2666. To steal a self-description from another book: this is a manual for anti-fascist living, perhaps if only in showing how the world triumphs when each fascist dies.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    ...in which he relates, although in a muddled or deliberately hermetic manner, some of his adventures in North America...The book contains historical inaccuracies, which may, however, be deranged metaphors for truths of another kind. So much of what I find witty about these fictive capsule biographies has to do with the shadowy family resemblance between parodic genius and hopeless, graphomaniac charlatanism. The descriptions of the writers' books always come with plausible highbrow justification ...in which he relates, although in a muddled or deliberately hermetic manner, some of his adventures in North America...The book contains historical inaccuracies, which may, however, be deranged metaphors for truths of another kind. So much of what I find witty about these fictive capsule biographies has to do with the shadowy family resemblance between parodic genius and hopeless, graphomaniac charlatanism. The descriptions of the writers' books always come with plausible highbrow justifications or antecedents. Did Mendiluce's Poe's Room, a minute account a room she built from directions found in a Poe essay, really "prefigure the nouveau romain"? What does it mean that the self-published soccer hooligan Schiaffino's scatological, rape-filled The Presidential Summit "recalls a certain strain of avant-garde theater"? Are they inventively alluding to, parodically participating in certain stylistic modes, or have travesties of those modes simply passed into the common cultural trough, where they are available to all hacks and hoaxers, including the describer of those works, to be unconsciously retrieved and ignorantly deployed? Are they using certain literary conventions, or are the conventions using them? I didn't want this to end, though it ends brilliantly. The last entry is spooky and hilarious.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    In an interview given in 1999 to Cristián Warnken, another Chilean poet, Roberto Bolaño describes this book as a metaphor of the writing trade, a job, according to him, miserable and populated by bastards. I think Bolaño nails it, since 'miserable bastards' is a concept that kept on coming to me as I read this novel (if we can call it that). La Literatura Nazi en América looks more like a bizarro anthology of the dark side of writing instead of a regular novel. It is made up of the fictional bio In an interview given in 1999 to Cristián Warnken, another Chilean poet, Roberto Bolaño describes this book as a metaphor of the writing trade, a job, according to him, miserable and populated by bastards. I think Bolaño nails it, since 'miserable bastards' is a concept that kept on coming to me as I read this novel (if we can call it that). La Literatura Nazi en América looks more like a bizarro anthology of the dark side of writing instead of a regular novel. It is made up of the fictional biographies of 20th Century writers, all of them sympathizers of the Nazis, some of them more right-wing than others, written in a mock-academic style surprisingly funny (given the topic). It is widely consired Bolaño's first major work and I have to agree with that. This is the first of his books that feels like a full-fleshed achievement, a work of mad genius and clever prose. Bolaño adopts a cold academic tone which not only makes the weirdness of the subjects come to life, but also provides an objective commentary on the horror we are witnessing. The lines delivered in such a way are here both hilarious and terrifying. All of the characters are disgusting pricks, distinctives in their own way. All of them are unforgettable. Luz Mendiluce, Ramírez Hoffman, Max Mirebalais, are shocking personalities hard to shake off. Their lives are novels in themselves. This book is populated by horrible novels. The key aspect about La Literatura Nazi..., however, is how Bolaño, and the reader through him, can't help to be impressed by these disgusting characters. We can all agree the Nazi writers here are ridiculous and pitiful, when not downright hateful, but it is harder to admit that, yes, they are admirable. To a point, at least. They all look mediocre, or creative but unintelligible at best. Yet that undying passion, that unsatisfying creativity, that hopeful loneliness, it is stuff all of us writers (I say 'we' because every reader is a potential writer) can empathize with. Is there a Nazi writer in all of us and it must be destroyed? I dunno, but they are miserable bastards and you don't make it through life without meeting a bunch of those.

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