The Ten Best Books of 2007
9. Amulet, Roberto Bolano
Usually I get all over white people (a racial group which I belong to despite substantial time on the beach this summer) for waiting until an author of color is dead to bandy about their legacy as cultural currency. Roberto Bolano, the Chilean novelist who died in 2003, was one of these people. Since Bolano didn’t really publish much until the 90s, and because he had to be translated a full effort which is only underway after his death, he has an excuse.
A load of Bolano has already come out this year. We haven’t really had the chance to get to all of it yet, but we started with Amulet, and if this is any indication, the forthcoming 2066 could be a verrrrrrrrrrry important book.
New Directions is reprinting his short stories. Rumor has it they are a bit amateurish, so we’ll see on that.
We have to give credit to The New Yorker for giving the guy maximum exposure, but in the future let’s find these people quicker. If I was given a budget of oh, $500,000 I could simply find all the literary genuises, take them to them to my island and develop super-tremendous works of literary profundity.
In the days before his death, Bolaño asked his editor to publish the five sections of “2666” individually, in order to secure a sizable inheritance for his children. After consultation with Bolaño’s wife, the publisher issued it as a single volume. (The book, which is eleven hundred pages long, is currently being translated by Wimmer.) “2666” has hundreds of characters, but in a sense its protagonist is Santa Teresa, a town in the Sonora Desert where impoverished Mexicans labor in maquiladoras, the low-wage factories that have proliferated in the era of globalization. Santa Teresa is modelled on Ciudad Juárez, where, since 1993, the corpses of more than four hundred young women—many of them mutilated—have been found in garbage containers or vacant lots. (Almost none of these crimes have been solved.) In the novel, a parallel massacre has taken place. The plot of “2666” is byzantine—in a variation on “The Savage Detectives,” it hinges on the hunt for a reclusive Prussian novelist who, admirers believe, has hidden himself in the Sonora Desert. But, at its core, “2666” is a testament to the unredressed evil of the murders. The fourth section, “The Part About the Crimes,” offers a sickeningly comprehensive account of the killings, written in the frigid tone of a forensic report. This litany is interspliced with accounts of corrupt police officials, one of whom jokes, “Women are like laws, they were made to be violated.” More than three hundred pages long, it may be the grimmest sequence in contemporary fiction.
Interesting stuff New Yorker. Unfortunately because I posted that I will not be able to say your name for a year. Sorry about that.
The book itself is a convincing representation of historical trauma. The writing is arresting, lucid, and funny.
You can only get 2666 in Spanish right now. The thing about 2666 is it’s a good distance away. I really don’t know what George Orwell was thinking. 1984 has never been my favorite book, although come to think of it I don’t think there’s much else like it.
(Tina Brown, former ed, writes her book on Diana and it’s already a bestseller. Next time hopefully she’ll pick a more interesting topic, like any topic. For example, haircuts.)
The Nation had a nice piece about Bolano. Look at me praising The Nation. You’ve come a long way baby. The problem is, just as quickly as I give The Nation some respect, they go and pull this shit:
My favorite part is the phrase “the corporate-supported mainsteam media.” Being against corporations is like being against money, which can’t really have a value judgment placed on it. Although this company would certainly make you think otherwise. Also AOL is freakin’ disgusting.
Where were we? Oh, yeah, Roberto Bolano. Cheers bro, you’re No. 9.
Chyll Will got blogpost spammed.
It’s Just the Anti-Depressant Talking discusses early experiences in advertising.
Boston actually bans transfat in restaurants. Jesus and you wonder why I don’t live in Massachusetts. That’s as bad as laws get.
More of the best rap singles of all time.
Orwell tappy tapping.