I really enjoyed this book of essays, articles and speeches by one of Latin America’s premiere authors, Roberto Bolaño. All of these writings were written over the course of six years (1998-2003) and most are very literary in nature. He writes of many Latin American authors - many of whom I am a huge admirer of - in sometimes glowing terms and other times not so much. The one thing you can say about Bolaño is that he doesn’t pull his punches. He says what he thinks and more often than not his opinions are brutally honest. While I did not agree with his assessment of some Latin American (and other) authors, it was nevertheless a very interesting and informative read. I’ve even got turned on to a few authors that I am now eager to explore for myself.
Other writings pertain to other topics other than literature - many of them about Chile, Blanes (the Spanish town in which the author lived), Vienna and other places but the over all topic here is literature, books, writing, the business of writing and commentary on writers of his generation who he most often praises and helps spread the word to those who may not have ever heard of them before. For the English speaking audience, it’s a good primer for introducing little known - and even famous - Latin American authors and literature. His prose is engaging and I found myself not wanting to put the book down.
If you have an interest in Latin American literature, or even want to know more about Latin American literature, this is a good place to start, despite it being seen through Bolaño’s eyes and his sometimes harsh and very critical assessment of some of the writers he speaks of. But those are few. What you have here, from what I saw, is basically a love letter to literature and this man has certainly bathed himself in it. Recommended.