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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding
You are probably like me and came to reading the late Roberto Bolano through the fantastic The Savage Detectives (now in paperback). I hadn't read this book before until the local reading group had it down to read. Firstly, I must admit that once I had finished it I started it all over again, it is that good.

This book contains 14 short stories, which are all...
Published on 23 April 2009 by M. Dowden

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories Not His Forte
A decent collection of short stories. It feels as if Bolano's personal ticks are a little too in evidence here (the themes of exile, discourses on literature, etc) and at times I thought this almost a little self-indulgent (in the same way that Murakami's pop culture referencing or excessive detail regarding food feels a little invasive).

Bolano is an excellent...
Published on 16 Oct 2010 by DRFP


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding, 23 April 2009
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
You are probably like me and came to reading the late Roberto Bolano through the fantastic The Savage Detectives (now in paperback). I hadn't read this book before until the local reading group had it down to read. Firstly, I must admit that once I had finished it I started it all over again, it is that good.

This book contains 14 short stories, which are all haunting in their own ways. Bolano seems to specialise in what can only be termed as the dispossessed. All the stories deal with people on the fringes of normal society. With stories like the first one, Sensini where two writers enter short story competitions to try to make some money Bolano has also provided us with tales that are semi-autobiographical. The Grub looks at how we see the same people day to day, for instance if you commute into work and stand next to the same person at the station; what would you find out about them if you struck up a friendship with them?

My two favourite tales are Anne Moore's Life in which our narrator tells us about Anne Moore from what he has heard from her; this tale and Mauricio 'The Eye' Silva are both absolutely mesmerising. The latter tale is about a photographer on assignment in India, which should only last a week or so. Silva instead spends about eighteen months in the country after he finds out about a religious sect where young boys are castrated, in the end leaving them only fit to become gay prostitutes. Silva helps two of these boys escape and starts up a life with them. Indeed this tale is reminiscent of Conrad and you could imagine him writing something like it. There are definite shades of Conrad and the great Russian short story writers throughout this collection which makes me wonder if he had read any of them (he was a prolific reader). All in all then this is a great collection of short stories by the leading writer of his generation and is a real feast for those who love to read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, subtle, ultimately rewarding collection, 22 Sep 2008
This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
One of those books, I suspect, which you either abandon in the first four pages, or add to your personal list of special books. Very different to the tradition of English story-writing, these accounts manage a strange mixture of distance and intimacy. The characters are often identified only by letters, 'A' or 'B', the narrator often seems a detatched observer, even when recounting their own past life, yet the details of events and emotions recounted draw one in and allow you to engage with and care about the characters. There is generally no plot twist at the end, in fact, often no very obvious plot at all, but I found this collection engaging, interesting and memorable. I'd recommend giving it a try to see if it works for you. I'm now going to try something else by Roberto Bolano.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exile on dead-end street, 31 Aug 2012
This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
"A minor poet disappears without leaving a trace, hopelessly stranded in some town on the Mediterranean coast of France. There is no investigation. There is no corpse. By the time B turns to Daumal, night has fallen on the beach; he shuts the book & slowly makes his way back to the hotel."

The last evenings on earth, shouldn't make sense, it's a book about failure, not the usual fireworks & all guns blazing failure I've come to expect from Bolano's work (The savage detectives, 2666). No this is wretched, abject - from the Latin "abjectus" meaning, cast away, this is the flotsam & jetsam of Latin- America, exiled from their own past. Individuals washed up on the shores of Europe, some having escaped torture & violence under General Pinochet's regime, yet having not really escaped, still wearing the chains, still bearing the scars, still living haunted lives of utter anonymity. Bolano also writes about the writers, poets and artists that history forgot, the ones who regardless of talent, pursued a life of dedication to their muse, the ones who sacrificed themselves upon its altar & left not a blood stain.

"Have you found Henri Lefebvre? asks M. She must be still half asleep, thinks B. Then he says no. She has a pretty laugh. Why are you so interested in him? she asks, still laughing. Because nobody else is, says B. And because he was good."
These characters work as dishwashers, send poems to obscure magazines, enter competitions for a pittance of a prize, for the one chance that a light may illuminate their genius, that some voice will sing out & proclaim their worth. Lives are spent travelling from A to B, but B's never different, it's the same cheap hotel, the same bar filled with the same shades, just a different costume on the same whore .
These stories fall into two categories, they are either 1st person recollections, where the narrator recounts an episode from his past - a chance encounter, meeting old friends or enemies - or 3rd person accounts of a writer named B, (Belano/Bolano). Exiled from his homeland & subsisting on the margins of his adopted country, of time spent travelling in search of something long lost & settling for some short lived comfort, some transient shelter. Yet at the heart of these tales, this is just one story, that is not a criticism of the book. This is the story of artists, writers & poets exiled from all that could be called home. Individuals caught in their own private quests, hunted by nightmares, always on the edge. These are chased shadows no longer relevant.

Despite all this, the book is addictive. By the time you've started the third story, you will belong to these characters, it will matter what happens to them. The French poet who shone in the resistance only to fadeout as a teacher in some remote village, the exiled writer who goes home to recover his sons body then languishes & dies, or just following Ann Moore's life from the age of 20 - 40. It will matter, fold the corner on the page, put the book down, leave the room & it will be there, just behind your eyes, in between your thought processes, it will be the beat that paces your journeys, it's shadow will dog your footsteps & your sleeping self, will continue to turn the pages.

"There's nothing for me to do here, says B. This sentence will pursue him throughout the return journey like the headlights of a phantom car"

Although last evenings on earth is compiled from 2 previous collections (Llamadas Telefonicas & Putas Asesinas) of Bolano's, it doesn't feel bolted together, if there are joins, if in places it doesn't quite match, I couldn't find them. Yes it's fragmented, but the fault lines are those of the characters, the fractures are the human lives that he writes about.

"The secret story is the one we'll never know, although we're living it from day to day, thinking we're alive, thinking we've got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn't matter. But every single damn thing matters! Only we don't realize. We just tell ourselves that art runs on one track and life, our lives, on another, and we don't realize that's a lie."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The little world of letters is terrible as well as ridiculous.', 3 Mar 2010
By 
Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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What we know about the tremendous gifts of Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño (April 28, 1953 - July 15, 2003) is in many ways due to the excellent translations by Chris Andrews. Andrews began translating Bolaño into English before the word understood the importance of this much mourned novelist and poet. This particular work LAST EVENINGS ON EARTH is a series of short stories that are delivered in conversational style (the narrator is always in the first person), a technique that enhances the common line of dealing with exile - from country, from hopes, from dreams, from immortality - that is the common thread throughout these fourteen stories.

Though each of the stories is well written, capturing our attention and concern for each of the characters, each one of the stories seem to be insights into the man we now recognize as a master writer and political activist. For this reader the most disturbing story is 'Dance Card', a story in numbered sentences that closes the collection. Some background as described in Wikipedia: 'He was dyslexic, and was often bullied at school, where he felt an outsider. In 1968 he moved with his family to Mexico City, dropped out of school, worked as a journalist and became active in left-wing political causes. A key episode in Bolaño's life, mentioned in different forms in several of his works, occurred in 1973, when he left Mexico for Chile to "help build the revolution" by supporting the socialist regime of Salvador Allende. After Augusto Pinochet's coup against Allende, Bolaño was arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist and spent eight days in custody. He was rescued by two former classmates who had become prison guards.' Translate these realities into a short story format and the reader is treated to 'Dance Card'.

In another story 'Mauricio ("The Eye") Silva' the author reveals much of the turmoil of his life in the opening sentences: 'Mauricio Silva, also known as "the Eye', always tried to avoid violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but violence, real violence, is unavoidable, at least for those of us who ere born in Latin America during the fifties and were about twenty years old at the time of Salvador Allende's death. That's just the way it goes.'

For those readers involved in reading '2666' or even 'The Savage Detectives' this collection may not have the power of these novels. But as for getting to know Roberto Bolaño and understanding his too brief career, these fourteen stories are excellent windows. Grady Harp, March 10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Author, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
Great read. If you are an avid reader you will love this author. His books are so well written it is a pleaseure to read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful stories, 6 May 2011
This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
This is a truly remarkable collection of short stories, packed with characters you think you might recognize or situations that you've vaguely heard of before. That is, if you've read a lot of his books. This is by no means negative; one of the wonderful things about this author is that he casually links characters and events from different books, making a whole universe of sad beauty.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories Not His Forte, 16 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
A decent collection of short stories. It feels as if Bolano's personal ticks are a little too in evidence here (the themes of exile, discourses on literature, etc) and at times I thought this almost a little self-indulgent (in the same way that Murakami's pop culture referencing or excessive detail regarding food feels a little invasive).

Bolano is an excellent writer - 2666 was a surprisingly readable 900 page masterpiece - and nothing is different here with the prose itself. When he sets about writing a story that stands alone and is free of his self-insert ruminations then the results are good. Sensini, Phone Calls and the title story demonstrate this and are the best of the bunch. Only one short is actively bad - I found nearly nothing redeemable in Ann Moore's Life. The rest of the collection is neither here nor there, well written but ultimately hollow.

Bolano was certainly a great author but, on this evidence, the short story wasn't his forte. Best to stick with his full length novels and novellas.
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2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Last Evenings on Earth, 18 May 2009
By 
E. A. Spencer-goodier "Emsamatt" (Isle of Wight , uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Last Evenings On Earth (Paperback)
Tough going to start with, however no-one could dispute that each story is beautifully crafted. Mediocrity and benality leave you with an uncomfortable sense of futility.
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Last Evenings On Earth
Last Evenings On Earth by Roberto Bolano (Paperback - 3 April 2008)
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