Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Bolaño

Harper's contributing editor Wyatt Mason in The New York Times Book Review, last Sunday, writes about a newly translated novel by Roberto Bolaño, called "The Skating Rink", which is a murder mystery structured as a series of interviews with the three main suspects. Of course, he calls it "another unlikely masterpiece," which "manages to honor genre conventions while simultaneously exploding them, creating a work of intense and unrealized longing..."

As we've discussed many times in this space, the honoring of genre conventions by non-genre writers is an iffy business, but I trust that Bolaño can pull it off.

Two things are interesting here. The first is this:

..... the large number of books by Bolaño already available is soon to double. In addition to the eight that have swiftly and ably arrived in translation in the six years since his death in 2003 at age 50, four new books by Bolaño are scheduled to appear in 2010 (two novels, two story collections) with three others promised for 2011. What’s more, according to recent reports out of Spain, another two finished novels have been found among Bolaño’s papers, as well as a sixth, unknown part of his already abundant 900-page novel “2666.”

The second is that the last Donald Westlake novel is reviewed in the same issue of the Review, favorably and with an astonishing lack of respect. I can't believe that any editor would allow a reviewer to describe a book as "a rollicking crime caper." But there it is. Even somebody as skeptical as I about the claims made for Westlake and Leonard finds this sort of condescension hard to take.

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