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Amulet Hardcover – 4 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First English Edition edition (4 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330510487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330510486
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roberto Bolaño was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1953. He spent much of his adult life in Mexico and in Spain, where he died at the age of fifty. His novel The Savage Detectives was named as one of the ten best books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the New York Times Book Review. His posthumous masterpiece, 2666, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Review

'We can't recommend this incredible book highly enough, anyway. Amulet is a light out of darkness' --Dazed and Confused

`The offhand bittiness is part of the book's charm, and fits the absurd bohemian world it describes'
--Sunday Times

`The strength and the originality of [Bolaño's] vision lies in the devastating scepticism which be brought not only to magical realist methods but to the very springs of fiction itself. To say that his books have a dreamlike quality is to give scant sense of the way their author shuttles weirdly between oneiric wildness and shrewd, concrete observations of the gritty realities of contemporary life in Latin America' --Guardian

`The posthumous poster boy of Latin American fiction... Auxilio is a brilliant creation, a mixture of hopefulness, insecurity and defiance' --Financial Times

`This short, dense, poetical novel aims to encapsulate the violence and tragedy of recent Latin American history in the musings of one woman... Nothing happens but everything happens; Bolaño's prose is spare but beautifully compacted. Other writers love him because he makes writing seem so important'
--The Times

`Amulet is a short, original, engaged and engaging novel; a good introduction to the longer works of this writer. Roberto Bolaño's prose, which moves between the colloquial, abrupt and deliberately awkward, and the lyrical, cannot be easy to translate. Chris Andrew has done it beautifully'
--Times Literary Supplement

`Roberto Bolaño redefined the form of the novel in his masterpiece 2666; with the hallucinatory narrative of Amulet, he reimagines what literature can become' --New Statesman

`Written in his sticky, delightfully informal prose, full of humour, wonderful imagery, and studded with eccentric characters, Amulet is a dream-like swim through one woman's life, loves and literary obsessions, and a gentler [than 2666] introduction to the joys of Bolaño'
--Waterstone's Books Quarterly

About the Author

Roberto Bolaño was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1953. He spent much of his adult life in Mexico and in Spain, where he died at the age of fifty. The Savage Detectives was named one of the best books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the New York Times Book Review. 2666, his final masterpiece, is also published by Picador.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. McCLEAN on 31 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Roberto Bolaño came to my attention when his book 2666 appeared on a shelf in my local bookshop. 2666 is an enormous book and it looks impressive and is quite pretty. Always being susceptible to the charms of a pretty book I investigated, saw the ebullient praise of Bolaño's work and got suspicious. Is he this good? Will I like his work?

"Amulet" provided the toe in the water for this author's writing and my impression, having finished this teaser, is that I shall be reading his other works.

In "Amulet", Bolaño gives the reader a view of the world of South American poetry, and the poetry scene in Mexico City in particular, over a period spanning the 1960s and 70s. The narrator is a lover of poetry who has devoted her life to being near the poets whose work she loves, and the young poets whose energy, enthusiasm and freedom of thought touches her.

If asked what this book is about I would say it is about poetry, revolutionary thoughts, love, the passing of time and growing old.

Bolaño's mechanism for presenting this history is interesting and I think frees the reader from the linear passage of time, and blurs the boundaries between real memories and possible memories.

I would suggest the narrator is not one hundred percent reliable, but the result comes across as a credible perception of Mexico City in those decades and the symbiotic relationship between the poetry movements and South American revolutionary thought, and indeed, action.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback
Roberti Bolano was a Latin American author who was born in Chile, and subsequently lived in several other countries, including Mexico. He died in 2003, at the age of 50. He was posthumously awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008 for his magnum opus, 2666. Some have described him as taking the literary mantel of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes. "Amulet" is the first work of his that I have read. It does seem to be a good introduction, mixing real life literary figures with some of the traumatic political events in Latin American, all served up in the style sometimes dubbed "magically realism."

Auxilio Lacouture, who features in some of his other novels, is the central character in this one. She is a middle aged woman from Montevideo, who goes to Mexico City, and survives by hanging around the university, picking up odd jobs (and the occasional youthful poet.) Early in the novel, she is the maid for two prominent poets, Leon Filipe and Peditro Garfias, both of whom die within a short period of each other, around 1968. The subject quote is her observation, from her "maid duties," of their bookshelves.

One of the characters that Auxilio befriends is the youthful Arturito Belano, who appears to be the author's alter-ego. There is a memorable scene in which she takes the rather inebriated Arturito home. It is the first time she meets Arturito's mother. The two women are approximately the same age. Auxilio says she believes in being frank, and so hastily assures the mother that she and her son have not slept together.
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Format: Paperback
Amulet is the second Bolano novel I have read, the first being the enormous, blood-soaked tale 2666, which introduced me to an altogether dark side of Mexican life. Having very much enjoyed 2666 - whilst also finding some of Bolano's descriptions of murder to be disturbing - I was keen to read one of his shorter works, and Amulet did not disappoint. It recounts the life in Mexico of Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan who describes herself as the 'Mother of Mexican Poetry' - but although poets, the intelligentsia and university life feature strongly, Auxilio is not really a full part of the scene, drifting between menial jobs, unemployment and dislocation. She lives through the revolution of 1968 whilst hiding for many days in the women's bathroom in the university, and much of her account (Bolano writes expertly as Auxilio in the first person) is quite metaphysical and dreamlike. As with Bolano's other work, the prose is acutely compelling - even in the imagined (?) sequences, his language is beautiful, perhaps even Joycean at times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Rodick TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
Be seduced by a woman's love. The woman is the narrator of this gorgeous, intimate story of creative freedom. For Roberto Bolaño to write through the eyes and feelings of a woman with such confidence and clarity is remarkable. Written entirely using free direct speech the narrative is so beautifully crafted that I read Amulet as much for the pure pleasure of its prose as for the adventures and characters contained therein. The vocabulary is so rich and varied and yet so consistent that I am sure it is not the consequence of Chris Andrews' immaculate translation. It is the work of a free mind.

A free mind witness to 'the intricate conduits of dryness.'

If you only read one book by Roberto Bolaño I urge you to read Amulet. If you do not know what an amulet is then use a dictionary after you have finished reading the book as I did. Entiendo.
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