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Distance Star Paperback – 2 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099461722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099461722
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,241 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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Ships from Spain. Please allow 10-18 business days to arrive at UK address (10-21 worldwide) due to postal service checks and customs.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've never read Bolano before you don't know what you have been missing. Like most people I stumbled across him when I first read The Savage Detectives, which is now out in paperback. I have now read a few of his books and can say that so far what I thought could only have been a one off isn't. Yes, he always seems to write brilliantly.

If you have never read him before you could do worse than start with this book, which is really a novella. Bolano claimed that this story came about due to his last chapter in Nazi Literature in the Americas (New Directions Paperbook), which has been now expanded and built upon in this book.

Alberto Ruiz-Tagle appears on the scene in the early seventies; he is a hit with the ladies and everyone seems to think that he is going to be the new face on the poetry scene (even though they don't know what he has written). Alberto is indeed an enigma, the narrator doesn't seem to like him, but this may just be jealousy due to the girls being all over Alberto. Pinochet takes over Chile and things start to change. The poetry groups that our narrator belongs to suddenly have members arrested, and disappearances along with the obvious killing of some of the female members. People move about and go missing, so it is no surprise that Alberto seems to disappear. What becomes apparent is that Alberto, now reincarnated as Carlos Weider (his real name) has something to do with all this. Whilst others are arrested and killed he becomes a flight-lieutenant in the air force.
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Format: Paperback
I must be pretty well the last to hop on the Bolano bandwagon, I should think. This absurdist literary thriller will appeal only to someone of rather, how to put it, ethereal taste (poetry and politics - or rather votaries - with side orders of Chile and Jewishness) but happily that seems to include me - though when we learn (p114 in the Anagrama Compacto) both of our 'mythical' poet-hero's interest in an ancient Egyptian text (Berlin Papyrus 1324, I've established) and that he has extensively annotated John Ford's complete work, 'including the collaborations', I begin to suspect a leg-pull. (You cannot be Osiris!?) Ultimately inconsequential while ostensibly deadly serious (like life) this finally disappears up its own portentousness, a po-faced shaggy dog story - the final third is entirely ludicrous, an inept attempt at the 'giallo' or hard boiled without even the saving grace of irony. Anthony Burgess did it so much better in that eccentric one-off Tremor of Intent, whose very title is whimsically meaningless while Bolano's, with its epigraph from Faulkner, screams 'deep'

Bolano writes compellingly in a style I don't read enough fiction to be able to pin down - Auster with a hint of Sebald? I've done no more than glance at either. Bernhard? Most moderns I like seem to bear his acrid trace. Even Greene crossed my mind, and though I'm no fan of Catholic guilt it was thus reassuring, two thirds in, to come across a character called Graham Greenwood. In fact that was the high spot in this heartless, sterile conjuring trick of a book

Amazon will probably say there are too many 'I's in here, which I freely concede (that makes eleven, plus a me, a my and a (royal) we). Bolano seems to scramble one's psyche, is all [the writer] can say in his defence. But if you prefer Lynch to Hitchcock I suppose this may appeal
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Format: Paperback
The novel opens in 1973, just before President Allende is overthrown by Augusto Pinochet. In Concepción, a group of left-leaning idealists discuss Pablo Neruda and Che Guevera. Members of this group include both the novel's unnamed narrator and the enigmatic Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, a little known poet who is attractive to women and viewed with suspicion by men. After the coup, Ruiz-Tagle is revealed as a Pinochet supporter. He has German heritage, and his name is Carlos Weider. He is also a murderer who eliminates opponents of the junta.

Weider is the central character in this novel, but the unnamed narrator and other characters demonstrate a complex interplay between politics, history and literature. The brutal events depicted underscore both the cruelty of the regime and the ambivalence of literature.

`The increasingly distant stars.'

This is a novel that can be read in one sitting, as I did, but I do not believe that it can be fully absorbed in one reading. I am not looking forward to re-reading it, but I think I will need to. I became engrossed in some of the stark contrasts in imagery which pervade the novel. Weider skywriting in his old Messerschmitt over Concepción seems particularly appropriate: whether the words he chose were timeless, the delivery guaranteed their ephemerality. Contrast this, though, with the scatological references as the new literature is created. Not subtle, but very effective.

This is my least favorite of the three Roberto Bolaño novels I've read so far, but I'm hooked.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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