Translated by Natasha Wimmer
Roberto Bolaño is most widely known for his groundbreaking novels and irreverent poetry, but as he became increasingly famous he found himself in great demand as a writer of non-fiction. Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolaño wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks, and a few scattered prologues.
Cantankerous and insufferably opinionated, Bolaño’s subjects range from literary criticism to tender pieces about his family and favourite places; works of passionate disparagement sit alongside fierce advocation of his heroes and favourite contemporaries; he argues for courage and bravery in the face of failure and vehemently demands ‘creativity in all levels’. Furthermore, Between Parentheses offers an opportunity to discover the man behind the international phenomena: it is, as the book’s editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, ‘a personal cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his writings, to a kind of fragmented “autobiography.” ’
Bolaño’s judgments are a joy to read. Between Parentheses is a treasure chest: filled with odd glittering jewels and fistfuls of gold. In these essays we hear Bolaño’s real voice.