Books Magazine

The Language of Others is Unintelligible to Me

By Jaac
The back of the New Directions edition of Roberto Bolaño's Antwerp displays this quotation from Bolaño (in gold lettering on the matte black fabric): 'The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp.' This was sufficient incentive for me to buy the book. Not that I actually disliked Last Evenings on Earth -- nor particularly disliked The Savage Detectives, even though I soon lost patience and gave it away, my longing to clear the thick fawn space that it occupied so much greater than any curiosity I had for the rest of it in the end. Simply, I was disappointed -- and especially disappointed given the hype that attaches itself to this book that is no longer in my house. 

In his introduction to Antwerp, 'Total Anarchy: Twenty-Two years later ', Bolaño gives some sense of how this tiny volume might be different to his other novels:
I never brought this novel to any publishing house, of course. They would have slammed the door in my face and I'd have lost the copy. I didn't even make what's technically called a clean copy. The original manuscript has more pages: the text tended to multiply itself, spreading like a sickness.

In the novel itself, although there are the usual maverick writers and slim, prostrated girls -- the usual crime and sleaze -- so much has been stripped from the hard, obsessive core of it, that it's possible to begin to be enchanted. Most fascinating is his use of ellipsis to isolate and make strange the found objects of speech:
But I used to be in a gang and I had the Arab in my sights and I pulled the trigger at the worst possible moment. Narrow streets in the heart of Districto V, and no way to escape or alter the fate that slid like a djellaba over my greasy hair. Words that drift away from one another. Urban games played from time immemorial ... "Frankfurt"..."A blond girl at the biggest window of the boarding house" ... "There's nothing I can do now" ... I'm my own bewitchment. My hands move over a mural in which someone, eight inches taller than me, stands in the shadows, hands in the pockets of his jacket, preparing for death and his subsequent transparency. The language of others is unintelligible to me. "Tired after being up for days" ... "A blond girl came down the stairs" ... "My name is Roberto Bolaño" ... "I opened my arms" ... (from chapter 4, 'I'm My Own Bewitchment' )

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Dying Games – Steve Robinson

    Dying Games Steve Robinson

    Crime Fiction5*s The genealogical expert Jefferson Tayte is back! I love this series which has taken me back to historical eras I know little about while tellin... Read more

    14 hours, 12 minutes ago by   Cleopatralovesbooks
    BOOKS, CULTURE
  • Crushed a Flower with a Footstep

    (Photograph by Abhay Tiwari) Please, talk to me about who you were before the walls were painted blue; Tell me the bruises, the aches, and time just added... Read more

    15 hours, 20 minutes ago by   Shantam Sahai
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Make My Day . . .

    Make

    Read more

    15 hours, 35 minutes ago by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

    Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

    I’ve moaned about it enough, so you’ll all know by know that despite having graduated last summer I’m still studying. I’ve chosen a career path which pretty muc... Read more

    16 hours, 35 minutes ago by   Ninegrandstudent
    FASHION, FOOD & DRINK, LIFESTYLE
  • Why I’m Not At the MidAmerica Region Annual Assembly

    I love Chicago. I have family there that I'm normally always looking for a way to be with. And I have friends that I don't see nearly enough. So when I first... Read more

    17 hours, 49 minutes ago by   Eastofmidnight
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Lemon Stuffed French Toast

    Lemon Stuffed French Toast

    Whenever I have stale bread I want to make one of two things . . . either I want to make a bread pudding, or I want to make French Toast. Today the French... Read more

    18 hours, 35 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Safety First And Workout Related Injuries Last

    Safety First Workout Related Injuries Last

    (Image Credit) Like most things in life, exercise can be a dangerous game. It’s very easy to injure yourself while you’re exercising; if you fail to take the... Read more

    22 hours, 32 minutes ago by   Peppertan
    FAMILY, HOME

Magazines