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Ode to Youth and Literature
by aparajito on February 28, 2008Roberto Bolaño's dazzling novel, which first appeared in 1998 and received its first English translation last year, ostensibly about the so-called visceral realists, a group of avante-garde poets in Mexico City in the mid-1970s, led by Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, is a mammoth work. It is in three parts, the first and third are from the diaries of the 17-year old law student and poet Juan Garcia Madero, and the second part (which, at over 400 pages, make the bulk of the book) features over fifty different first person narratives delivered by a vast and disparate cast of characters from all over the world. While the narrative has a strange power of taking hold of the reader and transporting them to a world just like ours, and yet not quite (the work strangely feels full of magic realism, but everything being described is ground in reality); the length of the novel occasionally causes some tedium. Also, and this may be due to the translation, for all the dazzling array of characters, I didn’t really find a great difference in the voices used, and they all sounded very similar to me.
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