i read a few hundred pages of infinite jest and was enjoying it, but then something happened and i had a break from reading it and never went back. i tried reading that book about hip hop that he co-wrote with someone recently. absolute rubbish.
re bolano, i really got into him in a big way. 2666 is really good i think, i really liked it, all the intrigue in the early sections and then the part about all the bodies. the very last part about the origin story is a bit far fetched, but contains that great scene in the castle with the army general fucking the countess. but unlikely to read the whole thing again. and savage detectives also very good at the time, but i tried re-reading it and didn't get very far. there's the odd hilarious sequence though, like when he's describing a sort of literary arts council funded trip to cuba, and the parody of the american woman who's sick of her good for nothing mexican boyfriend.
bolano actually falls foul of his own rule - i would argue that some of his shorter works are much better than his longer ones. some of his short stories (those in 'last evenings on earth') are really good, as are some of his shorter novels. 'the third reich' is probably my favourite, but 'amulet' is also excellent.
and of course he's really suffered in that his estate have allowed all his crap unfinished stuff to be published, i guess to cash in, which is fair enough. i've had enough of him now, couldn't even finish 'woes of the true policeman' or whatever it's called.
but i do really like him, i think he's a great writer. interviews also really good. it's maybe cliched to say, but he's one of those who lived a proper life of adventure, so he's a good antidote to all the writing school novelists of nowadays.
I've only read The Savage Detectives and it didn't make much of an impression. I liked the section about the devil in the well or whatever it was, and the ending - "What's outside the window?" - but as a whole it just sort of went by and left me cold.
I still remember first getting that book, absolutely tearing through it, loving it, recommending it to everyone. I got it when it first came out in English translation, after reading the lrb review. I actually didn't really like the ending, thought it was a bit too downbeat. I thought the best bits were in that middle section, with the long rambling tales that never went anywhere. Absolutely loved it at the time. And then I went through everything else of his. Ive not had that level of obsession for anyone else really, think it helped that there seemed to be a new book every few months, showing another side.
Nah, yr wrong there, he's totally the other way and massively takes the piss out of all the magical realist Latin Americans, it's a huge part of his project. He's all about the reality, just approaches it in an unusual way
There's one short story he did, maybe it's a sequence from one of the novels, it's where he's working as the night Watchman at one of the caravan camps on the Costa brava, near Barcelona, and it's about this old guy who he sort of befriends, cos this guy just comes and sits up all night with him, getting drunk. And over time he tells him his story, I can't remember what the story is, it doesn't really matter, perhaps it's about how he's french and he's lived in a few countries, but I think at one point the old guy maybe starts to weep uncontrollably, cos of something he's done, or something he's remembered. I feel quite certain that bolano never tells you the thing, he just manages to express the moment in a very precise way.
Those are the bits I really like, where there's this build and then a release, bit you never get to find out what exactly, and of course it doesn't matter.
The third Reich is good for this reason, the sense of dread just builds and builds, with the characters being pushed to their limits and their interplays become very complex.