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A catalogue of fictitious miscreants
on 10 May 2010
t is very difficult to know what to make of this book, Nazi Literature in the Americas. To be honest I've never quite "got" the Robert Bolano thing, finding 2666 too dense and overlong.
Nazi Literature in the Americas is a quite different book to Bolano's others. It consists of many obituaries and short biographies of mostly Latin and South Americans (but the occasional North American) who wrote articles and book with titles such as "Cosmogony of the New Order", "Conflict of Opposites", "The Jewish Question inf Europe followed by a Memorandum on the Brazilian Question". There is much fictional background information on these writers, much of it mildly amusing, for they all seem to share the characteristic of eccentricity, although sometimes with disturbing undercurrents:
My first impression on picking up Nazi Literature was to question its purpose. On the face of it, it seems to be a sort of catalogue of South, Latin and North American authors who were Nazi sypathisers and and promoted the cause through their writings. But it is difficult to believe that this is all it is about. Surely there must be some hidden meaning, some purpose perhaps only known to insiders, experts on Bolano who grasp the irony of his writings from an insiders point of view? Was Bolano trying to show that the Americas were rife with Nazi literature, later suppressed? Or was the opposite the case perhaps, that while well known leaders (Juan Perón for example) supported Nazism, it really didn't take root in the hearts and minds of the people, and this is Bolano's joke cache of previously undiscovered (though fictional) texts?
We should never judge a book by its cover, and this one certainly has a cover which belies its content. The charred bullet hole obliterating the O of Bolano, looks very realistic, and the artificial aging of the cover is very effective. Its a book which makes you want to pick it up and once its in your hand you find that its printed on creamy paper with elegant type-setting. I'd wonder if it was collectible, but unfortunately the contents don't live up to its presentation and its hard to believe there will be much interest in this book in a few years time.