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Nazi Literature in the Americas Paperback – 1 Oct 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (1 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330510517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330510516
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The author of 2666 collects a tricksy and satirical set of fictional obituaries of Nazis.' --Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

‘Lucid, insane, deadly serious, wildly playful, biblomaniacal, and perversely imaginative’ Nicole Krauss

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At first glance, this book does not appear to be a novel. Instead, it looks like a collection of richly detailed obituaries and bibliographic notes. These could be real people - and that is Bolaño's point entirely. What we read here as fiction could well be representative of literature in an alternate world. While some of the characters depicted are outlandish, others are unsettlingly plausible. Those of us with limited knowledge of 20th century literature in the Americas could well accept fiction as truth, at least for a while.

Fortunately, if you follow the biographical details of the authors carefully, it becomes clear that what could be fact is definitely fiction. While this is a relief, by that stage in the book the possibility of fact has emerged and I found myself wondering about the power of fiction and the role of literature in politics.
The most unsettling of the entries is `The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman'. This is a far longer entry and refers as well to a character named Bolaño who is asked to identify Ramírez Hoffman, a Chilean poet who had been employed by Pinochet's death squads. Here, for a moment at least, the line between fact and fiction is blurred. By introducing himself as a character, Roberto Bolaño grounds this novel in a way which is a confronting reminder of a political reality. And so, neatly, the circle is closed.

Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was a Chilean poet and novelist. This is the first of his books I have read. It was first published in Spanish in 1996 and in English in 2008. I will be seeking out his other novels.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, you can't say I'm not giving him a fair crack of the whip. After the thrill of The Savage Detectives came the bruising of 2666 and finally the damp squib that was Amulet; with each successive read pushing me further and further away and even thinking that it might be time for someone to point out that thing about the emperor and his clothes. But I thought I'd give him another chance and Picador do keep producing these rather lovely editions. Presented as a kind of encyclopaedia of fictitious writers with some kind of fascist bent the book is apparently a wicked satire on literary pretension and hypocrisy at both ends of the political spectrum. I say apparently because unless you are sufficiently well versed in the literary figures of the Americas then for the most part this book is like being told joke after joke where you don't understand the punchline. It's a bit like those people who laugh at obscure Shakespearean references and jokes during a performance which lead you to think 'you have made abundantly clear that you understand the cultural hilarity of him having a white hair upon his chin but even when you understand it, it isn't that funny'. For a philistine like me there are odd moments where the jokes are pretty base and accessible and there is the odd pithy line ('A Mexican poet inclined to mysticism and tormented phraseology.') that raises a smile but it isn't until the raised eyebrow is lowered and the arch authorial tone dropped into something more personal with the final portrait that I found something to latch onto. Narrated overtly by 'Bolaño' the thirty or so pages that make up The Infamous Ramirez Hoffman combine art and violence to chilling effect and tap into that era of quiet terror at the beginning of Pinochet's regime in Chile.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I bought both 2666 and THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES three years before I actually dared read them. The sheer size was terrifying. Finally - thank God - I summoned up the courage and took them on. When I finished 2666 I almost wept to think that would be no new Bolanos.
Well here`s Bolano for Beginners. Everything Bolano apart from terrifying size : wit, melodrama, horror, history, brilliant characterisation, fake erudition, satire. Part Nabokov`s PALE FIRE, part Borges, part Spinrad`s IRON DREAM Iron Dream (Panther science fiction), part Michael Moorcock`s BYZANTIUM/JERUSALEM novels Byzantium Endures: Between the Wars Vol. 1, but wholly Bolano. Read this, it`ll take a couple of hours, get a taste of the genius, then get on to the hard stuff.
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By Paul Bowes TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
'Nazi Literature in America' is probably best understood as Bolaño's homage to Borges - the young Borges of the ' Historia universal de la infamia', with its concocted biographies of semi-legendary and non-existent criminals. 'Nazi Literature' is a compendium of fictional biographies of right-wing writers from the Americas, written as though from the standpoint of the mid-twenty-first century (a few of the writers are given dates of death as late as 2029). The biographies vary in length and style from a couple of pages to a substantial short story, from dispassionate dictionary entry - albeit with Borgesian adjectival ironies - to first-person narrative. The final story, 'The Infamous Ramirez Hoffman', was reworked into the excellent novella 'Distant Star', published in the same year (1996).

Bolaño's skill here is to allow these fragments of biography to conjure up an entire world in which political violence and literature are intimate bedfellows. The relevance of this perspective to Bolaño's own biography and the experience of many of his contemporaries is obvious, and perhaps one has to be Chilean or Argentinean to fully appreciate some of the ironies here. What is surprising is the way in which Bolaño is able to bring to life an entirely imaginary world through a host of casual details, and to make substantial points about the political and the literary worlds with considerable humour and without resorting to sledgehammer polemics. The 'monsters' he delineates are allowed the human dimensions - and the failures - that are necessary to make them human monstrosities rather than cartoons.
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