Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bolaño, PKD, and Thoreau

Dwight Gardner reviews a collection of Bolaño's essays (called "Between Parentheses") in this morning's New York Times. Bolaño's genre scorecard was an interesting one: He disliked John Irving and Michael Chabon, but liked Thomas Harris: opinions that are hard to generalize from. He loved Philip K. Dick (I almost said "of course") and had contempt for the very literature professors who now lionize him. A hard-core bohemian to the last..... From the review:

He had a baroque, seriocomic scorn for Latin American professors at American universities. “To attend dinner with them and their favorites,” Bolaño wrote, “is like gazing into a creepy diorama in which the chief of a clan of cavemen gnaws on a leg while his acolytes nod and laugh.” He made plain his lack of regard for the American writers John Irving, Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Chabon.

Some of the crispest writing in “Between Parentheses,” however, is from the newspaper columns in which he appraised those American writers whose work he clutched to his chest. These included genre masters like Dick, (Walter) Mosley, James Ellroy and Thomas Harris. Mr. Harris’s Hannibal Lecter novels may be mass-market best sellers, Bolaño said, “but I wish most contemporary novelists wrote this well.” His riff on Philip K. Dick included this sentence: “Dick is Thoreau plus the death of the American dream.”

1 comment:

David Chute said...

Tell the Publisher!
I’d like to read this book on Kindle