Roberto Bolaño’s caracas speech


I’ve always had a problem with Venezuela. An infantile problem, fruit of my disorganized education; a minimal problem; but a problem nonetheless. The center of the problem is of a verbal and geographic nature. It is also probably due to a sort of undiagnosed dyslexia. I don’t mean to say by this that my mother never took me to the doctor; on the contrary, until the age of ten I was an assiduous visitor to doctor’s offices and even hospitals, but from that point on my mother decided I was strong enough to handle anything.

But let us return to the problem. When I was little, I played soccer. My number was 11, the number of Pepe and Zagalo in the World Cup in Sweden, and I was an enthusiastic player but a pretty bad one, though my left leg was my good leg and supposedly lefties never lose steam during a match. In my case, this wasn’t true: I almost always lost steam, though every once in a while, say once every six months, I would play a good match and recover at least a part of the enormous credit lost. At night, as is natural, before going to sleep, I would run circles in my head around my pitiful condition as a soccer player. It was then that I had the first conscious inkling of my dyslexia. I shot with my left leg but wrote with my right hand.

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