Synopses & Reviews
Amulet is a monologue, like Bolano's acclaimed debut in English, By Night in Chile. 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 cafes 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.
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. As they grow ever more hallucinatory, her memories become mythologies before completely transforming into riveting dark prophecies. Hair-raising and enthralling, Amulet is a heart-breaking novel and another brilliant example of the art of Roberto Bolano, 'the most admired novelist, ' as Susan Sontag noted, 'in the Spanish-speaking world.'