cover image The Return

The Return

Roberto Bolaño, trans. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, New Directions, $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1715-6

Translator Chris Andrews deserves enormous recognition for introducing America to Bolaño with Night in Chile back in 2003. Now, with the Bolaño renaissance in full swing and the backlog of untranslated works narrowing, Andrews culls the short stories omitted from Last Evenings on Earth. Save perhaps the title story—in which a dead man follows his body through an increasingly noxious series of abuses—the stories have a subdued and sketchlike quality, from underworld confessionals like “Snow” and “Joanna Silvestri,” to tender reminiscences like “Cell Mates” and the heartbreaking missed romance of “Clara.” Devotees of Bolaño will recognize the writer’s merciless (and often humorous) fusion of high art and dark human nature in small flights like “Meeting with Enrique Lihn” and comic bloodbaths like “William Burns,” though mercy plays a surprising role in several of the stories, as in the incredible “Prefiguration of Lalo Cura,” in which the cast and crew of high-concept pornos face their late-life requiem. The initiated and dedicated have a welcome feast of small desolations. (July)