sábado, 2 de abril de 2011

La pista de hielo

La pista de hielo (Anagrama, 2009)
por Roberto Bolaño
España, 1993

Digamos que La pista de hielo, el debú de Bolaño como novelista, se parece a un Rashomon novelado o algo por el estilo.  Como con más que una de sus obras posteriores, la obra es una especie de novela policíaca sin detectives y algo en cual la solución del delito es menos importante que el testimonio de los testigos de poca confianza.  Remo Morán, un escritor fracasado chileno, Gaspar Heredia, un poeta fracasado mexicano, y Enric Rosquelles, un exitoso burócrata y malversador catalán,  hablan por turnos; sus versiones de los eventos bajo consideración tratan de un triángulo de amor que incluye una guapísima patinadora rubia, tres cadaveres, y una misteriosa pista de hielo ilegalmente construida dentro de un caserón en la Costa Brava (para los lectores de una sensibilidad particular, también hay una referencia borgiana/schwobiana a una "vida imaginada": la de un libro ficticio, Santa Lydwina y la Sutilez del Hielo, que supuestamente tiene que ver con la patrona del patinaje y de las enfermedades crónicas y, de modo divertido, está atribuido a la pluma de Henri Lefebvre, el intelectual francés asociado con la Internacional Situacionista).  Aunque no es tan inventivo o estructuralmente arriesgado como Los detectives salvajes, 2666, La literatura nazi en América, o Estrella distante, La pista de hielo ya es un libro que me satisface completamente gracias al don de Bolaño en cuanto al habla de sus personajes y por sus secuencias oníricas asombrosas.  (http://www.anagrama-ed.es/)

The Skating Rink (New Directions, 2009)
by Roberto Bolaño [translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews]
Spain, 1993

As with more than one of Bolaño's later efforts, his assured, atmospheric debut as a novelist is a sort of detective story without a detective and one in which the solution to the crime is less important than the Rashomon-like testimony of its unreliable witnesses.  Remo Morán, a failed Chilean novelist, Gaspar Heredia, a failed Mexican poet, and Enric Rosquelles, a successful Catalan bureaucrat and embezzler, take turns narrating their versions of the events in question in the work, events in which a love triangle involving a beautiful blonde figure skater, three cadavers, and a mysterious ice skating rink illegally constructed within a ramshackle old mansion situated on Spain's Costa Brava figure prominently among the key ingredients (note: as an added bonus for readers of a certain stripe, there's also a fab Borgesian/Schwobian reference to an imaginary book called Saint Lydwina or the Subtlety of Ice which purportedly has to do with the patron saint of ice skaters and the chronically ill but whose authorship here is amusingly attributed to Henri Lefebvre, the French intellectual who influenced the Situationist International).  While not as inventive or as formally risk-taking an opus as The Savage Detectives, 2666, Nazi Literature in the Americas, or Distant Star, The Skating Rink's still a mightily satisfying affair that blends Bolaño's gift for replicating real life speech with those dark night of the soul dream sequences that continue to send chills up and down my spine.  Nice.  (http://www.ndpublishing.com/)


This was my first Bolaño read for Rise's 2011 Roberto Bolaño Reading Challenge, a/k/a "the only challenge that matters," ha ha. I think it's now my ninth Bolaño overall, following in the footsteps of Los detectives salvajes, Estrella distante, Amuleto, 2666, Nocturno de Chile, Llamadas telefónicasLa literatura nazi en América, and El Tercer Reich.  Ah, what fond memories of almost all of them!

16 comentarios:

  1. Hi Richard I ve this near top of my tbr pile at moment ,it looks to have classic bolano part poets and writers the detective part of this book appeals as well ,all the best stu

  2. Very nice. I read this one last year after putting it off again and again because premise and physical slight left me thinking I might be disappointed, but I really enjoyed it. Especially enjoyed the quiet insights into societal position and themes that seem to resonate in concentric bands varying according to their distance from center, norm.

  3. I need to read Bolaño, I really do. This doesn't seem like a bad starting point. Btw I just finished Carmen Laforet and liked it a lot!

  4. *Stu: It does have all the "classic" Bolaño elements and feel--although as usual displayed in a different way than in his other novels. Will be sure to keep an eye out for that upcoming review of yours.

    *Frances: I went back and reread your Skating Rink post while I was putting together my own and thought you hit the nail on the head with the comment that Bolaño's unique voice shines through throughout this work just as it does in his more intricate efforts (which is an irony of sorts since these first-person narrators are so different from the ones in, say, 2666). Also agree with your comment here that there are lots of "quiet insights" in this novel to ponder on despite its pint-sized stature. Of course, now you leave me wondering what you'll be reading by him next!

    *Caroline: Yes, you've got to give him a chance sometime! I kind of hesitate to recommend The Skating Rink as your first Bolaño because it's not anywhere near his best, but on the other hand it's a fine (and quick) read that will give you a sense of his strong suits without being as polarizing as all the works of his I'd deem superior. In that sense, it's not a bad place to start at all. P.S. Glad you gave the Laforet a try and liked it so--very happy to hear the news!

  5. Read this a little more than a year ago and loved the eerie atmosphere created as well. The trio of point of views in this unusual detective story is also reminiscent of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. The form and structure are amazing, the way it builds an architecture of slow revelation and concealment. And how it has anticipated the masterpieces to come - the multiple voices in The Savage Detectives, for one.

  6. P.S. Happy that you're also shooting for the Godzilla Level.

  7. I remember this book fondly - I also read and enjoyed it last year. There is something so haunting about the ice rink... Thanks for the reminder that I need to push Bolano closer to the top of my TBRsoon list.

  8. Though I'll probably get to Savage Detectives & Nazi Literature first since they're already on my physical TBR shelf, you & the commenters have me mightily intrigued about this one as well! I kind of can't believe how long it's been since the 2666 readalong, nor that I haven't read ANY other Bolaño since then. What have I been thinking?!? On the other hand, I just realized that it's been over 10 years since I revisited another favorite author of mine (Nabokov), so maybe Bolaño isn't doing too badly. In any case, thanks for the nudge about another awesome-sounding Bolaño title!

  9. Loved this, not my favourite, that's Last Evenings on Earth, but still really enjoyed it, and all the themes that will make the Bolano we love & adore are there, recently finished The Romantic Dogs & even running through his poetry there were detectives.

  10. *Rise: It's been an eternity since I last gave Faulkner a go, so I'm glad you mention As I Lay Dying here. As you might know, Faulkner was a huge influence on Juan Carlos Onetti and Juan José Saer, two Lat Am favorites of mine, so I def. feel like I should know his work better. Love your line about Bolaño's novel's "architecture of slow revelation and concealment" and I'm happy to be going for Godzilla status naturally!

    *Sarah: No prob about the "reminder" and I agree with you about the skating rink's haunting qualities as a symbol. It reminded me a little of the city of Santa Teresa in 2666 in that it had almost a magnetic quality for the various characters while still coming off like a vortex of evil or something for the reader. What a writer that guy was!

    *Emily: Savage Detectives and Nazi Literature are WAY better than The Skating Rink, but I'm happy to see how many other people have dug this "lesser" novel as well. It has a lot to offer, for sure. I have two Nabokovs awaiting me (including, um, Lolita, which I've never read, and not including Ada, which everybody keeps raving about), and I see you just reviewed another by him!

    *Parrish: I've yet to really dip into Bolaño's poetry and the one short story collection I've read by him I thought was a mixed bag (some awesome stuff and some just so so stuff). Still, I agree with all you say about The Skating Rink's charms and look forward to trying out some more non-novelistic Bolaño before too long. Cheers!

  11. Con todo lo que me gusta Bolaño, a mí esta novela —que leí después de Los detectives... y 2666— me desilusionó un poco, quizás por su filiación con el policial, género que me interesa poco, pero sobre todo por ese menor riesgo estructural que marcás. Es buena la alternancia de voces, pero fuera de eso es una novela más convencional que las grandes novelas de Bolaño que citás.


  12. Well, as a matter of fact, I was just thinking about reading Monsieur Pain this week. Maybe starting Thursday?

  13. Esta fue la 1º novela de Bolaño que leí y lo hice desde la pantalla. Me pareció entretenida. Pista de hiela era una de esas novelas con las que el autor ganaba premios y lo aliviaba económicamente. También tiene varios elementos autobiográficos.

  14. *Martín: Aunque tengo una debilidad for el policial de vez en cuando, por mi parte estoy de acuerdo contigo que es una novela más convencional que lo normal para Bolaño. Por eso, comparto tu crítica en cierta medida pero ya me gustó el libro. ¡Saludos!

    *Frances: I haven't read that one yet and have seen mixed reviews on it from those who have, all of which makes me especially eager to hear what you think about it, oh trustworthy friend. Hope you enjoy it, though!

    *Mario: "Entretenida" es la palabra perfecta, pero ¡qué valioso de vos de leer desde la pantalla como un verdadero yonqui de la lectura! Yo empecé mi carrera bolañesca con Los detectives salvajes, y no dudo en decirte que aquella experiencia cambió mi vida en cierta manera. ¡Saludos!

  15. Truly a die-hard fan of Bolano you are to read 9th of his novels. I bought Savage Detective yesterday and hope you finish 2666 soon!

  16. *JoV: The Savage Detectives was my first Bolaño and still maybe my fave of all--hope you enjoy it!