My friends A. and R. both wrote me, separately, to rave about Chilean author Roberto Bolaño’s Last Evenings on Earth, a collection of short stories translated by Chris Andrews. Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Daniel Alarcón shares their enthusiasm:
If the earlier pieces are less convincing, it is only in relation to the sheer brilliance of the collection’s second half. Bolaño’s stories meander, following no logic except that which exile imposes: a yearning that cannot be articulated, only acted out, often with desultory gloom. His protagonists wander through the streets of Europe’s great cities and are unmoved. They are constantly arriving, and leaving just as suddenly, and the whole of the world is reduced to a single detail: These places are not home. Every conversation is vaguely recalled, every detail slightly blurred. Plots are arranged with startling asymmetry. Life, in other words, bumbles along, love appears and dissolves, men and women make half-hearted attempts to escape their lives. Naturally, the successes are fleeting and the failures sublimely tragic.
You can read it all here.