"Between Parentheses, which has been adroitly translated by Natasha Wimmer, covers a lot of acreage. There are crunchy bits of autobiography, political laments, disquisitions on food and soccer and women and exile and keeping airplanes afloat with your mind." -- Dwight Garner, The NY Times
Roberto Bolaño, is one of the greatest South American authors of our generation, who gained a widespread reputation in Latin literature with his novel, "The Savage Detectives". He was the most dominant and controversial figure to have emerged since the early 1960s, due to the way his novels impend over the past half-century of Latin American fiction. A lover and a fighter, he demonstrates how the boasting Bolaño could invoke in oration and squabble loudly at the same time. In Bolaño's bewildering novel, an exuberant, and wildly inventive fictitious narrative, he declared, "There is a time for reciting poems, and a time for fists." His intellectual thought, and debating fists, in nonfiction prose, mostly from his daily contributions in Newspapers, are gathered here for the first time. These seemed to be the odd jobs and 'left-handed journalism' that filled "Between Parentheses."
Between Parentheses brings about most of the published newspaper columns and articles written during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks. As the book's editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, the pieces provide a kind of fragmented autobiography, a personal survey attempting to describe the writer. Bolaño's career as a nonfiction writer began suddenly in 1998, just five year before his death, when he became famous for his fiction hit, The Savage Detectives. He became in demand overnight, for articles as well as speeches, taking to the new vocation without hesitation. While exhibiting a lack of reverence, ill temper, and intolerably stubbornness, Bolaño could also be tender as well as a fierce advocate, for his heroes and favorite writers, whose books he promoted forcefully. A demanding critic, he argued for courage, and lived up to his own demands of total creativity.
The admirable book title is Bolaño's own pick for his daily column, wrote for the Chilean newspaper 'Las Últimas Noticias'. Despite the discursive topics, political laments, discourses on food, soccer, and women, a unified tone permanently exists throughout the book, a Bolaño' distinctive tone, at once romantic, profound and cynical. 'The Nation's' Marcela Valdes says that she hears Bolaño's real voice echo out of the pages of "Between Parentheses." All the same, the book adds little, if any, to interpret Roberto Bolaño, it helps to puzzle critics even further. He shares much of himself in 'Between Parentheses', despite its claims to truth, or reality, is however a part of Bolaño's maze, "a maze by turns dark or illuminating, tragic or comic, and stark and enriching. Most of all, this maze is a strange joy to get lost in," is what the witty reviewer eventually concludes.