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sirinrob

By Night in Chile by Roberto Bola

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Synopsis from amazon:

During the course of a single night, Fr Sebastian Urrutia Lacroix, a Chilean priest, who is a member of Opus Dei, a literary critic and a mediocre poet, relives some of the crucial events of his life. He believes he is dying and in his feverish delirium various characters, both real and imaginary, appear to him as icy monsters, as if in sequences from a horror film. Thus we are given glimpses of the great poet Pablo Neruda, the German writer Ernst Junger, General Pinochet, whom Fr Lacroix instructs in Marxist doctrine, as well as various members of the Chilean intelligentsia whose lives, during a period of political turbulence, have touched upon his.

 

This is the first work by Roberto Bola

Edited by sirinrob

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I recently completed this as well. Here's my bit I posted on my reading blog.....

 

An aging Chilean priest tries to justify his life as he lays dying. I'm finding Bolano's short fiction to be

magnificent amplifiers of his two massive masterpieces, The Savage Detectives and 2666, the latter a novel I think

about almost every day. Bolano's subject is the late 20th century, a time of great change, new found freedoms for

ordinary people, but also one of the bloodiest centuries in human history. The urge of people to the irrational, to

totalitarionism lingers on. Man's inhumanity to man (and especially woman) draws from very primitive impulses that

can barely be identified no less understood.

 

I wish I were capable of explicating the mysteries of Bolano's work. It needs someone far more perceptive than me.

But even I can savor the delicious irony of our apolitical priest teaching a clandestine course on Marxism to

Chile's General Pinochet and his ruling junta on dark stormy nights, or the juxtaposion of weekly literary soirees

in a fashionable drawing room, while, in the basement, unbeknownst, political prisoners are being tortured.

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Absolutely. So far his fiction seems all of one piece. Bolano loves stories, stories within stories, the arc of a person's life, what they were like when they were young, what they dreamed of becoming, how they actually turned out, how they managed the vicissitudes of life.

 

Bolano's dry, matter-of fact delivery can be deceptive, its cumulative power often results in an intensity I've never encountered before in literature.

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