I get many quixotic looks on the subway while I am reading this book, and I would like it no other way. While this work is a piece of fiction, it reads like a piece of non-fiction. Bolano is a tricky bastard and a master of the craft, only he could write a fictional compendium of fascist writers from Latin America that is based in reality but complete, utter fiction. I have been thinking for a bit why I am so attracted to this book and have come up with a couple of ideas.
First, Bolano's book is about Latin America, a continent that has had considerable history with fascists. It is no secret that many Nazis fled to Brazil and Argentina after WWII; likewise, it is no secret that the Brazilian and Argentine governments hid high-level Nazi officers. But, this is not all. During the 60's and 70's pretty much all of Latin America was under the rule of dictators and military governments. In Argentina you had Videla and Galtieri (generals) and from 1976 to 1982 the Navy, Air Force, and Army all had their turn to rule the country; they introduced a program called the Process of National Reorganization or simply, el Proceso. In Paraguay you had Stroessner; in Chile you had Pinochet; in Brazil you also had a military government although I forget his name.
Second, if I am not mistaken, Bolano, originally from Chile, had to flee to Spain and Mexico because of Pinochet. Actually, the majority of his writing takes place in Spain and Mexico(The Savage Detectives). Therefore, Bolano is a writer that has been affected deeply by Latin America's fascist history, but he has also made fascism, obsession, and depravity his main subjects. It would not be a stretch to say that Bolano writes about the subjects that have had the largest impact on his life, namely military governments and the depravity of seeminly upright people (military officers and such). Could it be that Bolano writes about these things as a way to ensure that they are never forgotten? Could it be that Bolano wrote a book about fictional titans of Nazi Literature as a way to ensure that Latin Americans don't forget their fascist past?
Third, however, one of the chapters includes North Americans and that only means that Bolano is making reference to Marti's "La Edad de Oro" in which he posits that all South and North Americans are Americans, not just the one living south of the Rio Grande. Or maybe he is saying that North America should be blamed as well for maybe not hiding Nazis but definitely feeding off the open veins of Latin America and exploiting the chaos and intervening with the C.I.A. to propel puppets and a fresh supply of dictators.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.