Sunday, August 02, 2009

Like a visit from an old, strange, slightly creepy friend.

My regular wander through 57th Street Books yielded a very pleasant surprise on Thursday: The Skating Rink (1993), the newest volume in New Directions's ongoing Robert Bolaño translation project, which I'd not been expecting to arrive for at least a month.
I heard his deep, velvety voice, the one thing that hasn't changed over the years. He said: This is just the night for Jack. He was referring to Jack the Ripper, but his voice seemed to be conjuring lawless territories, where anything was possible. We were adolescents, all of us, but seasoned already, and poets, so we laughed.
Forty pages in, and it's already intriguing, vague, a bit ominous, and multivocal; everything I've been missing in the year or so since I last read Bolaño.
The campground was called Stella Maris (a name reminiscent of rooming houses) and it was a place where there weren't too many rules, or too many fights and robberies. It was frequented by working-class families from Barcelona and young people of modest means from France, Holland, Italy and Germany. The combination was sometimes explosive and would have blown up in my face for sure if I hadn't immediately adopted El Carajillo's golden rule, which consisted basically of letting them kill each other. His harsh way of putting it, which struck me as funny at first, then disturbing, didn't reflect a contemptuous attitude to the clients; on the contrary, it sprang from a profound respect for their right of self-determination.
Ah, it's good to be back in the Bolañoverse.

1 comment:

  1. I have read four Bolano's so far, I will look forward to this one-thanks for the insightful post.