Distant Star — Roberto Bolaño – Biblioklept
Heroes, Tombs and Street Names: Roberto Bolaño's Fiction and it seems appropriate to the ambition and the radically open-ended quality of Bolaño's vision. Take the final scene in Distant Star (). . if inconclusive, set of speculations on Bolaño's relationship to Borges; discussions of heroism and. works, Distant Star is the place where the set of phenomena that I intend to . narrative flow some key instances where the relationship between literature and .. references at the end of this paper can be consulted to identify the instances in. As such, since Distant Star is Bolaño's first full novel to narrate a story that ethereal poetry' and 'ends in ritualized femicide', O'Bryen points to a vital . Luis Bagué Quílez's reading of Bolaño's intertextual relationship with.
Those pinned up with thumbtacks in the four corners seem to be an epiphany. An epiphany of madness. The symbols are few but telling. A photo of a photo of a young blonde woman who seems to be dissolving into the air. A photo of a severed inger, thrown onto a loor of porous, grey cement. The narrator, though he has insisted upon the accuracy of the description but on what basis does he make this claim?
Distant Star — Roberto Bolaño
In the absence of such questioning, any examination of these acts becomes, it seems to me, a metaexamination. Far from bringing Wieder and the narrator together, then, secrecy seems more and more to push them apart,28 and this again its very nicely within the framework of Deleuze and Guattari, who argue that secrecy is essentially incompatible with the sovereign signifying regime: For these thinkers, secrecy, far from a simple movement between concealment and revelation,29 makes up a language of sorts: But if this is true, then in what way does the narrator create such a language—is his enigmatic secrecy engaged in some form of betrayal?
To respond, we will look at what we will provisionally call his sole poetic act. But of Wieder the man there is no trace. Like Wieder, the narrator has been absent for most of the book, since informing us that he left Chile. We now learn that he has been living for years in Barcelona, eking out a meager existence as a writer though he admits that for some time now, he has not been writing at all.
Romero brings the narrator a pile of right-wing maga- zines from all across Europe and offers him a large sum of money to read through the magazines for traces of Wieder. After several days of reading during which, despite his initial hesitation, he truly melts into the maga- zines ,31 he locates an essay and a poem by a certain Jules Defoe in a pair of French magazines.
How, then, does the narrator succeed where others have failed? After all, Wieder has been able to escape detection for years, by people we would assume to be far more likely to ind him—whether because of means, acumen, or motivation—than the narrator, this failed poet and failed revolutionary. But the question here is not only how the narrator has located him but also how he is able to escape detection: After all, all the detective work in the world is of no use if the prey is able to lee before being captured, and this is what has happened in all the previous attempts to ensnare Wieder: How is the narrator—admittedly with the help of an accomplished detective—able to capture this master of concealment and able to keep himself hidden from this greatest reader of signs?
There was hardly a cloud in the sky. An ideal sky, I thought. Then Carlos Wieder came in and sat down by the front window, three tables away. How, sitting right out in the open, does the narrator keep himself secret? To respond, let us turn back to a curious element of the paragraphs we have just looked at.
Perhaps each instance of the word lends precision to the narrative: Until the fourth occurrence: All sorts of hypotheses are possible: But this is precisely the point, for it is via this unremarkable repetition that the narrator constructs his minor or secret language. The book begins, for instance, with the following sentence: The narrator here is uncertain of the year he irst saw Wieder, and this is not so much a deep as a shallow uncertainty, an uncertainty so mundane, so seemingly unimportant who really cares which of these two years it was, after all?
Yet this mundane uncertainty comes to constitute the very tone of the book. We follow it into the next paragraph, where the narrator says of Ruiz-Tagle: The narrator again does not so much correct himself as insert a second possibility without cancelling out the irst—again, about something utterly unimportant.
On the next page, again referring to Ruiz-Tagle, he says: On the one hand, this would not be the irst time someone was suddenly drawn in by a work that had at irst repulsed him.
I mentioned another example of this earlier in the essay: But to what end? There are at least two ways of responding to this question. First, recall that Distant Star recounts the story of Carlos Wieder, in what appears to be an entirely straightforward manner.
By constantly repeating himself, by going back again and again on what is most mundane, the narrator builds a language of stuttering, one that at once recounts the exploits of, and keeps itself secret from, Wieder, thus rendering him incapable of recognizing the very words that ensnare him— words that are at once most profoundly his, yet utterly foreign to him.
Written in the skies
Who, after all, is Wieder? He is the man who undertakes all of his poetic acts in the service of sovereignty; he is the man whose adherence to the deathly truth of sovereignty is such that he is too much to bear even for the sovereign.
In a word, he deterritori- alizes it, and in doing so, he undoes its major achievement, its major production. For while he seems to proceed by accretion adding competing claims to those he has made, adding sentences that do not it within the narrativehis constant additions in fact take something away: It is thus that the narrator effects a kind of magic, not that of the sovereign magician-king but the one that Deleuze and Guattari call that of the sorcerer; a magic that, in the impoverishment it undertakes on the regime of death, allows us to discern the stammerings, the stutterings, of a birth: See, for instance, The Kingdom and the Glory, where Agamben makes reference to magic, all the while leaving it at the borders of his investigation.
On this issue, see especially one of the igures whom Deleuze and Guattari cite at length, Marcel Detienne: A word about my reading strategy with regard to the secret: For a more general investigation into the place of secrecy in Deleuze and Guattari, see Colebrook I will refer to all of these essays, especially the latter, over the course of this essay. For this reason, I will always include the page refer- ences from both the English translation and the original in that order, and separated by a forward slash.
This claim, along with the fact that the novel at times seems to go out of its way not to name the narrator, makes any deinitive identiication impossible, in my view.
The Best Bolano Book is 'Distant Star'
On this pseudonym, see Williams So important is this term that the entire structure of the novel, I argue, is based on it: As many critics have noted, the term makes explicit reference to the CADA Colectivo Acciones de Artean avant-garde movement that emerged in the s in Chile. The admiration for Wieder by his seeming enemies, especially the narrator, is a theme that the text comes back to again and again.
The detective wants his help as a poet to track Wieder down - to see if he can use his hermeneutic skills to identify the airforce pilot's hand behind articles in various neo-fascist publications from several European countries. He helps the detective, and between the two of them they track Wieder down to his hiding-place, also in Spain.
The detective does what he has been hired to do, and the two men walk away into the night. His own personal history mirrors that of the narrator: As in his previous novel Chile by Night, in this novel his approach to horror and the sense of guilt felt by those who survive it is full of irony and artifice, and it is this oblique, wry style which has appealed to many Hispanic writers unhappy with the lazy, indulgent fantasies of magical realism.
There as here, the shadow of Jorge Luis Borges is obvious. It is also full of a strange kind of gallows humour, as we are swept along by stories that are invented and presented entirely convincingly, only to be suddenly brought up short by a reminder that this has not been done innocently. You could be right, I admitted, but this really has been a dreadful business. Dreadful, repeated Romero, as if he were savouring the word. Then he laughed quietly, grinning like a rabbit, and said, Well what else could it have been?Roberto Bolaño - 2666 BOOK REVIEW
Romero looked at the sky, the lighted windows, the car headlights, the neon signs, and he seemed small and tired. Soon, I guessed, he would be sixty. And I had already passed forty. A taxi pulled up beside us. Look after yourself, my friend, he said, and off he went. That the narrator has already turned 40 reminds us that, in the course of a novel barely pages long, more than twenty years have elapsed. In that time an entire generation, with its youthful enthusiasm for art and politics, its friendships, its sexual fixations, and its dreams of a better world, has passed away.
I find this intensely affecting. The moment is melancholic without being maudlin.
It is also so low key that it borders on banality. And yet it is as if we can glimpse something — the passing of time, the ebbing of lives — pressing against the threshold of the everyday. The city seems like a premonition of its end. Chris Andrews deserves a lot of praise. He has translated virtually all of the books put out by New Directions, including three superb short novels: It is hard to imagine a work of scholarship keeping these people happy.
A few years ago Ilan Stavans, a professor of Spanish at Amherst College, seemed to want to warn academics off. Instead, it remains throughout a scrupulously measured account of the work. They might even be described as self-effacing. Instead it involves a methodological shift from narratology to moral philosophy. A lot of this is terrifically insightful and will supply a template for further work, which is what I imagine it was intended to do.
The strength of the early part of the book resides in its patient account of formal processes and strategies. Andrews has set out to identify categories and techniques in order to supply a kind of formal road map. As at other moments in the book, the key terms emerge out of fairly involved and slightly digressive departures into branches of moral philosophy and narrative theory.
The later part of the book is more directly thematic, and fairly squarely focused on trying to extract ethical lessons from the ways in which fictional characters behave. The categorizing impulse is still evident. At stake here is the sense of a cultivated immaturity: