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Robert Bolano: The Last Interview: & Other Conversationsby Roberto Bolano
The Last Interview and Other Conversations is obviously a must-read for anyone seeking greater understanding of the enigmatic Chilean author. Comprised of four interviews, this slim collection begins with an insightful and very well written introductory essay entitled "Alone Among the Ghosts," by Marcela Valdes, that further elucidates how and why Bolaño came to write 2666. While two of these interviews (Bomb and Playboy Mexico) were easily available before this book, to have four distinct portraits of Bolaño in one place is quite the gift. All of the interviews were conducted during the time he was writing 2666, and, thus, he would have been well aware of his impending fate when he allowed the interviewers to query him at length. Perhaps the most valuable part of these interviews, however, are the annotations included in the margins, offering brief biographical sketches of the Latin American authors Bolaño read often and loved well. These priceless additions also indicate whether the writer has works available in English translation. As if Bolaño's fiction didn't inspire a long enough reading list, these interviews could fill shelves with prospective reads. With so much hype and misinformation regarding Bolaño circulating in print and on the Internet, it's often difficult to discern the fact from the fiction, so it may well be that The Last Interview and Other Conversations is the most candid glimpse we shall ever have into the late author, his personality, and the details of his life.
From "The Last Interview" (Playboy Mexico, July 2003):
Monica Maristain: Have you shed one tear about the widespread criticism you've drawn from your enemies?
Roberto Bolaño: Lots and lots. Every time I read that someone has spoken badly of me I begin to cry, I drag myself across the floor, I scratch myself, I stop writing indefinitely, I lose my appetite, I smoke less, I engage in sport, I go for walks on the edge of the sea, which by the way is less than 30 meters from my house, and I ask the seagulls, whose ancestors ate the fish who ate Ulysses: why me? why? I've done you no harm.
MM: Do you have hope? For what and for whom?
RB: My dear Maristain, again you push me toward the land of bad taste, which is not my native land. I have hope for children. For children and warriors. For children who fuck like children and warriors who fight like brave men...
About the Author
Roberto Bolaño (1950-2003) was a Chilean poet, novelist, and essayist. His translated work includes Amulet, By Night in Chile, Distant Star, Nazi Literature in the Americas, The Savage Detectives,2666, Last Evenings on Earth, The Romantic Dogs, and The Skating Rink. His last years were spent in Blanes, on Spains Mediterranean coast.
Marcela Valdes s a contributing editor at Publishers Weekly and the books editor for The Washington Examiner. In 2000, she co-founded Críticas, a U.S. magazine devoted to the coverage of Spanish-language books, and in 2009 she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in Arts & Culture Journalism at Harvard University. Her writing appears regularly in The Washington Post and The Nation, among other publications.
Translator Sybil Perez, a native of Chicago, is an editor at Stop Smiling magazine, a post she has held for over ten years.
Table of Contents
Alone Among the Ghosts
I. “ Literature is Not Made From Words Alone”
Interview by Héctor Soto and Matías Bravo
Capital, Santiago, December 1999
I I . “ Reading is Always More Important Than Writing”
Interview by Carmen Boullosa,
translated by Margaret Carson
Bomb, Brooklyn, Winter 2002
III . “ Positions are Positions and Sex is Sex”
Interview by Eliseo Álvarez
Turia, Barcelona, June 2005
IV. The Last Interview
Interview by Mónica Maristain
Playboy, Mexico edition, July 2003
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