Come Our Party (or Time Travel to Bolaño’s)

If our launch party on Wednesday just won’t come soon enough to quench your literary thirst these days (yeah, I know, my throat gets parched in the summer too), perhaps, you should have checked out the publication party of Roberto Bolaño’s Between Parentheses, which was Monday, at 7:30, at Galapagos Art Space, DUMBO. Between Parentheses, a collection of (mostly) nonfiction written between 1998 and 2003, is the latest of Bolaño’s posthumous releases and this party is just the latest celebration supposedly in his honor since the middle of the oughts, when The Savage Detectives was translated into English and the man’s reputation blew up. Since then, as you no doubt are aware, he has been transformed into a Latin American Jack Kerouac, a figure who lived like the protagonists of his novels, drinking in all of life, shooting up heroin, protesting against Pinochet—except he wasn’t. He had made up some of the stories, others had been created by the critics—and all of it sold his books.

Beyond surely being another bestseller turned out by the literary-estate-publishing-industry-complex, Bolaño’s new collection is a matter of genuine interest because it’s the source of much of his mythology. Or at least some of it, like the heroin use that we all knew about and that was supposedly the reason for his death (from a liver disease caused by that substance abuse). The essay, “Beach,” opens with a pretty frank admission of heroin use: “I gave up heroin and went back to my town and started on the methadone treatment administered me at the clinic.” However, they say that this is fiction—the only work of fiction in the bunch—a departing joke for his future biographers from the maestro. Well, if so, you had us fooled. Buen hecho, Roberto!*

*Contemplating such jokes and other Bolaño trivia this evening was his award-winning translator, Natasha Wimmer, contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, Wyatt Mason, and The Paris Review’s editor, Lorin Stein.

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