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Amuletby Roberto Bolano
Synopses & Reviews
Amulet is a novel of extraordinary intensity by literary phenomenon Roberto Bolaño: "the real thing and the rarest"—Susan Sontag
Amulet embodies in one woman's breathtaking voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America. It begins: "This is going to be a horror story."
The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman in Mexico City in the 1960s, who becomes the "Mother of Mexican Poetry." Tall, thin, and blonde, she is famous as the sole person who resists the army's invasion of the university campus: she hides in a ladies' room for twelve days. As she waits out the occupiers, with nothing to eat, Auxilio recalls her adventures in exile, and talks about two elderly exiled lions of Spanish poetry, three remarkable women, and her favorite young poet, Arturo Belano (Bolaño's fictional stand-in throughout his books). Her stories refract light and Auxilio is soon in strange landscapes: in "the dark night of the soul of Mexico City," in ice-bound mountainsides, in a bathroom where moonlight shines, moving slowly from tile to tile, and in a terrifying chasm. Amulet keenly demonstrates, as The Los Angeles Times noted, that "Bolaño is by far the most exciting writer to have come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time."
A tour de force, is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America.
is a monologue, like Bolano's acclaimed debut in English, . The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman who moved to Mexico in the 1960s, becoming the "Mother of Mexican Poetry," hanging out with the young poets in the cafés and bars of the University. She's tall, thin, and blonde, and her favorite young poet in the 1970s is none other than Arturo Belano (Bolano's fictional stand-in throughout his books). As well as her young poets, Auxilio recalls three remarkable women: the melancholic young philosopher Elena, the exiled Catalan painter Remedios Varo, and Lilian Serpas, a poet who once slept with Che Guevara. And in the course of her imaginary visit to the house of Remedios Varo, Auxilio sees an uncanny landscape, a kind of chasm. This chasm reappears in a vision at the end of the book: an army of children is marching toward it, singing as they go. The children are the idealistic young Latin Americans who came to maturity in the '70s, and the last words of the novel are: "And that song is our amulet."
A tour de force, Amulet is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America.
It is September 1968 and the Mexican student movement is about to run head-on into the repressive right-wing government of Mexico: hundreds of young people will soon die.
When the army invades the university, one woman hides in a fourth-floor ladies' room and for twelve days she is the only person left on campus. Staring at the floor, she recounts her bohemian life among the young poets of Mexico City-- inventing and reinventing freely-- and along the way she creates a cosmology of literature. She is Auxilio Lacouture, the Mother of Mexican Poetry.
Auxilio speaks of her passionate attachment to young poets as well as to two beloved aged poets, to a woman who once slept with Che Guevera, and to the painter Remedios Varo, recalling visits which never occured. And as they grow ever more hallucinatory, her memories become mythologies before completely transforming into riveting dark prophecies.
Hair-raising and enthralling, Amuletis a heart-breaking novel and another brilliant example of the art of Roberto Bolan o, the most admired novelist, as Susan Sontag noted, in the Spanish-speaking world.
About the Author
Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed "by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times)," and as "the real thing and the rarest" (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50.The poet Chris Andrews has translated many books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.
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