Bolaño Inc.

Infras1Horacio Castellanos Moya in Guernica:

I had told myself I wasn’t going to say or write anything more about Roberto Bolaño. The subject has been squeezed dry these last two years, above all in the North American press, and I told myself that there was already enough drunkenness. But here I am writing about him again, like a vicious old man, like the alcoholic who promises that this will be the last drink of his life and who, the next morning, swears that he will only have one more to cure his hangover. The blame for my relapse goes to my friend Sarah Pollack, who sent me her insightful academic essay on the construction of the “Bolaño myth” in the United States. Sarah is a professor at The City University New York and her text “Latin America Translated (Again): Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives in the United States” was published in the summer issue of the journal Comparative Literature.

Albert Fianelli, an Italian fellow journalist, parodies a quote often attributed to Herman Goering and says that every time someone mentions the word “market,” he reaches for his revolver. I’m not so extreme, but neither do I believe the story that the market is some kind of deity that moves on its own according to mysterious laws. The market has its landlords, like everything on this infected planet, and it’s the landlords of the market who decide the mambo that you dance, whether it’s selling cheap condoms or Latin American novels in the U.S. I say this because the central idea of Pollack’s work is that behind the construction of the Bolaño myth was not only a publisher’s marketing operation but also a redefinition of the image of Latin American culture and literature that the North American cultural establishment is now selling to the public.