I have read exactly one thing by Roberto Bolano so far, and that’s the short story in the Dec. 22 issue of The New Yorker. I should probably tackle The Savage Detectives or 2666, but I don’t think I can bear to until Bolano fever dies down a little. Meanwhile, scholars have joined litbloggers in the Bolano boom. From an essay (subscription only) by Ilan Stavans in the Dec. 19 Chronicle Review:
Witnessing BolaÃ±o’s canonization in academe has been fascinating. Barely a few years ago, he was a don nadie, a supreme nobody; now The New Yorker puts its imprimatur on him with a review, he’s a household name at symposia, and he’s taught as a refreshing perspective, a kind of Jack Kerouac for the new millennium.
Alas, BolaÃ±o’s work is rapidly becoming a factory for scholarly platitudes. More than a year ago, I had a student who wrote his senior thesis on the author. My student started early in his junior year with a handful of resources at his disposal. By the time he had finished, the plethora of tenure-granting studies was dumbfounding: BolaÃ±o and illness, BolaÃ±o and the whodunit, BolaÃ±o and the beatniks, BolaÃ±o and eschatology, etc. Since then, interviews, photographs, e-mail messages â€” everything by or about him â€” are perceived as discoveries (even though most of the material was never lost to a Spanish-language audience).