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Monday, 30 April 2012

New Bolaño collection reveals The Secret of Evil


Each time I think that I've exhausted my interest in newly released translations of the late Roberto Bolaño (The Savage Detectives, 2666, By Night in Chile), another one is published, I casually flip through it - and I'm hooked back in. Translated by Bolaño regulars Chris Andrews and Natasha Wimmer, this most recent collection "opens the computer file of all the texts Bolaño was working on at his death" in 2003 (John Banville). The Secret of Evil offers an array of stories and narrative sketches, which both return to previous themes and characters (displacement, unnamed horror, the state of literature in Latin America, Belano and Lima) and offer new perspectives. V. S. Naipaul visits Buenos Aires and denounces the sexual practices of its denizens. A low-budget zombie movie serves as an allegory for human existence. Bolaño's young son, in a rare autobiographical piece, learns to approach automatic doors without detection. The unfinished state of some of these pieces is not as frustrating as might be expected, perhaps because Bolaño is already such a master of the "poetics of inconclusiveness" (Ignacio Echevarria). The secret of evil surely lurks in these pages, just out of sight, on the next page, which always ends up being disconcertingly blank.

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