Arid landscape with horses (Junge Welt newspaper)

And if they haven’t died – dry landscape in Chile

The loyal fan base of the writer Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003), author of the legendary novel »2666« (2004, 2009), is divided on what to think of the abundance of books conjured up from the estate. If the penultimate discovery “Monsieur Pain” (2019) left me indignant, the “cowboy graves” were great refreshment for me in my sad everyday reading without the master. Do not ask me whether he wrote the texts or whether the administrator of the estate has a text program that spits out “bolanesque” works of magic … I thought the three stories were great and after reading them I danced around the book for hours.

“’You quit, but what do you want to do instead?’ Asked my father. “The revolution,” I said. ›What revolution then?‹ «In 1973, 20-year-old Arturo Belano set off from Mexico to Chile to support the Allende revolution. After the coup, however, the Fascist Pinochet’s soldiers hunted down all progressive forces there.

The joys of youth and the romantic whimsy of pure lyric poetry enchants in the loose narrative, which, despite all the surreal happiness, has the flaw of the fragmentary. But let’s not be more papal than the Pope! In the stories, Bolaño switches confidently through space and time. We meet protagonists of later works, the stories are rich in allusions, but never lurch into the banal absurd like in “Monsieur Pain”.

Of course, there are various forgotten poets, including the motif of the aviator poising with a fighter plane.

Coll, cooler, coolest – at least when choosing a cover, Hanser shows more flair than Fischer. Both publishers share the remnants of Bolaño’s work, but Hanser clearly has the better graphic artists at work. Where fishermen spill color, Hanser shows a dry landscape with horses.

Roberto Bolaño saw his entire work as a love letter to his “lost” generation of Latin American intellectuals, in “Cowboy Graves” he torpedoed us not only back to 1973, when a US-backed fascist trampled the specter of freedom under the tip of his boot.


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