The Insufferable Gaucho (New Directions Books)

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9780811217163: The Insufferable Gaucho (New Directions Books)

A trove of strange, arresting, short masterworks ― five stories and two essays ― by Roberto Bolano, a writer who pulls bloodthirsty rabbits out of his hat.

As Pankaj Mishra remarked in The Nation, one of the remarkable qualities of Bolano’s short stories is that they can do the “work of a novel.” The Insufferable Gaucho contains tales bent on returning to haunt you. Unpredictable and daring, highly controlled yet somehow haywire, a Bolano story might concern an elusive plagiarist or an elderly lawyer giving up city life for an improbable return to the family estate, now gone to wrack and ruin. Bolano’s stories have been applauded as “bleakly luminous and perfectly calibrated” (Publishers Weekly) and “complex and provocative” (International Herald Tribune), and as Francine Prose said in The New York Times Book Review, “something extraordinarily beautiful and (at least to me) entirely new.” Two fascinating essays are also included.

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About the Author:

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed “by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time” (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times),” and as “the real thing and the rarest” (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50.

From Publishers Weekly:

Seven tales by the amazingly prolific-in-death Bolaño (2666) explore themes of self-exile and illness. The two best stories concern conflicted Argentinean protagonists; in the title story, Hector Pereda, "an irreproachable lawyer with a record of honesty," leaves Buenos Aires after the death of his wife and the collapse of the country's economy to make a go as a gaucho on the pampas. Inhabiting a ruined ranch, with only the languid locals and predatory rabbits as company, Hector finds a welcome, near-poetic restoration of a society where self-reliance and egalitarianism reign. In "Alvaro Rousselot's Journey," an acclaimed Argentinean novelist sets out for Paris to confront a filmmaker who has blatantly plagiarized his books, though what really eats at the novelist is that the filmmaker has ignored the writer's recent works, leaving him with the sense that "he had lost his best reader." "Rat Police" reflects Bolaño's interest in fantasy and noirish crime fiction, while "Literature + Illness = Illness" is essentially an essay about terminal illness. Andrews is an excellent translator, and even if these are somewhat lesser works in the Bolaño pantheon, completists will snap this up.
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