A highly in depth, academic study of the fiction of Roberto Bolaño. It would help to have read his complete works before reading this book since it literally examines all of his published work (as well as interviews he had given over the course of his life). There are still some books I haven’t yet read (but this only made me want to get to them sooner) so if you aren’t familiar with his complete catalogue, some of this may lose you.
In it, author Chris Andrews focuses mainly on Bolaño’s three major works: “The Savage Detectives”, “2666” and the novel that brought him attention to the English speaking world, “By Night In Chile”. This doesn’t mean his other novels, short stories and poems are ignored — not by a long shot — but these three novels are the main focus as Andrews delves into the “expanding universe” of Roberto Bolaño’s fiction: how it interconnects, how he utilized various different genres (such as Suspense), how his work differed from the giants of the ‘Latin American Boom’ generation and his conscious attempt to move beyond it, to create something new while exploring the political, ethical and aesthetic values that shaped it.
It also gives a little insight into how Bolaño worked and his staggering output (especially in the last years of his life) is highly inspirational for the would-be and even seasoned writer, for here was a novelist/poet who was truly his own man. Andrews contrast’s Bolaño’s work with past Latin American masters and the steps the author took to either build on those foundations or utterly decimate it and start anew.
A must read for die hard fans of Bolaño’s work and a great introduction to those who are less familiar with his writing and want to gain a little more insight into his work. Highly recommended.