Distant Star

Distant Star - Roberto Bolaño It's Roberto Bolaño, but only three-star Bolaño...

Let it be known that I love this writer's works, and 'The Savage Detectives', in particular. However... this novella has its moments but it's inconsistent. And it's no surprise. It's another of the books based on an incident from a former work (in this case, the highly entertaining 'Nazi Literature in the Americas'). And Bolaño informs us in the preface that he and his fictional alter-ego, Arturo Belano, knocked out the text in six weeks. It shows.

The opening and ending are strong, as they always seem to be with Bolaño. One can envisage his starting with the two bookends then working out how to get from one to the other. There are some strong passages, notably those involving the anti-hero, a Chilean fascist named Carlos Wieder who is a memorably unpleasant sociopath. Then there are other passages where the virtues of this or that poet are mentioned but without giving the reader anything to go on, unless he/she happens to be an expert on Chilean poetry. There are unconvincing depictions of Soviet generals as film stars/heart throbs. These sections remind me of Murakami - and from this reader's perspective, that's not a good thing...

Overall, then, I found this readable but the slightest of Bolaño's works I've read so far.