January 27, 2009
More on Fresan on Bolaño on... everything
I finally got around to buying the issue of "The Believer" with Rodrigo Fresan's piece on Bolaño in it. It cost almost nothing for the magazine and an absolutely unconscionable amount for the postage, which is odd as it took about 6 weeks to get to me. Do they pay an orphan to deliver it by hand? Anyway, now I've given "2666" a little time to go down I've started picking away at it. It's a big, broad piece of writing and I must admit that so far I've mainly filleted it for direct quotes from Mr Bolaño himself, as there is very little Eng-lang coverage of what he directly said about his writing (and as some of the quotes are taken directly from emails Bolaño sent to Fresan, you aren't going to be finding them anywhere else...).
"About my work, I don't know what to tell you. I suppose it's realist... But that isn't what matters in the end; what matters is the language and structure, the way of looking at things."
"The truth is that I don't really believe in writing. My own least of all... I use the word writing as an antonym of waiting. Instead of waiting, there's writing. Anyway, it's quite likely that I'm mistaken and that writing is another form of waiting, of putting things off. But I'd like to believe that's not the case."
"I don't know how there can still be writers who believe in literary immortality. I understand those who believe in the immortality of the soul, I can even understand those who believe in Heaven and Hell and the touching waystation Purgatory, but when I hear a writer talk about the immortality of certain literary works I want to slap him. I'm not talking about hitting him but just slapping him once and then probably hugging him and comforting him... a kind of slap for the person's own good, like the kind they give hysterical people in the movies so that they snap out of it and stop screaming and save their lives."
Considering the amount of second rate exposition and commentary there has been around the release of "2666" it's a shame no one has re-published this piece - preferably a newspaper or magazine with a web presence where it would be freely available for everyone to read... (Incidentally, I don't agree with the pull line that "the only protagonist of Roberto Bolano's work - the authentic heroine of his books - is literature itself" and I'm not convinced Fresan does, either....)