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Roberto Bolaño steals this book

By Harriet Staff

The New York Review of Books features an essay from the collection Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches (1998–2003) by Roberto Bolaño and translated by Natasha Wimmer. Bolaño describes the books he stole as a teenager in Mexico City, tempted first by the impossibility of stealing from an all-glass bookstore without being caught. Having succeeded in the store most difficult to hide his transgressions, the books became the focus rather than just the act of stealing them.

From the mists of that era, from those stealthy assaults, I remember many books of poetry. Books by Amado Nervo, Alfonso Reyes, Renato Leduc, Gilberto Owen, Heruta and Tablada, and by American poets, like General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, by the great Vachel Lindsay. But it was a novel that saved me from hell and plummeted me straight back down again. The novel was The Fall, by Camus, and everything that has to do with it I remember as if frozen in a ghostly light, the still light of evening, although I read it, devoured it, by the light of those exceptional Mexico City mornings that shine—or shone—with a red and green radiance ringed by noise, on a bench in the Alameda, with no money and the whole day ahead of me, in fact my whole life ahead of me. After Camus, everything changed.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.