I love writers who break the rules. Roberto Bolano is like the cool, mysterious boyfriend who rides a motorcycle, whom you know your parents disapprove of, but you go out with him anyway. His writing felt like a guilty pleasure to me, like listening to gossip, and despite the unfamiliar settings and haziness of the information provided, I stuck around until the end. His stories are sparse, full of telling, not showing, lacking in both dialogue and action, yet somehow, I was hooked. Common themes in Last Evenings on Earth are friendship, loss, rejection, failure and early death. While reading, I felt as if the stories were being told to me by a shadowy figure in a hot stuffy bar with the lights turned off to keep the room cooler. Even with lukewarm beer and flies buzzing, sizzling skin and cigarette smoke wafting past my face, I remained a captive audience.
People talk about Roberto Bolano’s death at 50 as being a great loss to literature, like he’s the the David Foster Wallace of the Spanish-speaking world. He wrote two massive novels, The Savage Detectives and 2666, which received wide critical acclaim. Like Infinite Jest, these books are big ambitious works, so I think I’ll wait until I reach the end of these tomes before I gripe about how there aren't any left. The literary table is resplendent with stacks of books to keep me busy for quite some time.