Distant Star

Roberto Bolaño

Just about a year ago, I got less than a hundred pages into The Savage Detectives before I could go no further (and turned to Valley of the Dolls as a cleanser). Initially I didn’t think I’d follow up on a suggestion to try this novella instead, but it wound up there on my hold list. Populated by Chilean poets on the cusp of Pinochet’s coup, the unnamed narrator attempts to piece together the history of Carlos Wieder, who arrives as a polite, yet mysterious, poet in Concepción’s college workshops and ends up evolving into something more sinister after he begins sky-writing his poems after Allende’s fall. The fragmented portrait builds out of his own memories and those of friends, including details one sends to him via letters while he’s in exile.

All in all, the perfect amount of Bolaño for me. I’m fine leaving the detectives and 2666 for hardier readers.