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Before the fight began he insulted them in Spanish. Obviously the novel is longer (the original is only about 25 pages). What the book does a wonderful job at is conveying Chile under Pinochet, and what that experience was for those who remained and those who fled.I’ve read other books about the period – The Days of the Rainbow by Antonio Skarmeta and, more recently, A Man of His Own by Edgard Telles Ribeiro.The epigraph of Distant Star is a quote from Faulkner: I’m not sure which Faulkner novel or short story the quote appears in, but it’s easy to see similarities between Bolaño’s Distant Star and, for example, Faulkner’s masterpiece Absalom, Absalom.** Both authors use one person’s obsession with the life and history of another as a way to structure their novels.
Mythologies spring up around individuals – good and evil – like Carlos Weider.
The case Bolaño’s narrator builds against Weider is entirely out of circumstantial evidence.
Years could pass before families learned the truth about what happened.
Sometimes the missing were released from prison; or (happily) it’s revealed that they joined the revolution and went underground; or their remains are discovered in a mass grave.
I am not arguing the story’s veracity, just its malleability.
Distant Star tests the limits of how much an author reveals and how much he leaves to his reader’s imagination.Or they just remain among the missing – no news, no closure.In the absence of facts it is inevitable that rumors fill the void.The following weekend I went back for Nazi Literature In the Americas.Distant Star began life as the final chapter of Nazi Literature in the Americas.For both narrators – Bolaño’s alter-ego and the doomed Quentin Compson – the focus of their investigations takes on a stature far beyond that of simple men – Carlos Wieder and Thomas Sutpen come to embody all that these narrators cannot accept or reconcile in themselves or in the society/country where they live(d).Bolaño’s sometimes difficult relationship to Chile and Faulkner’s torturous love-hate relationship to the American South.Ruiz-Tagle, we eventually learn his real name is Carlos Wieder, becomes a life-long obsession for our narrator.He is the bogeyman at the center of the novel – tied to random acts of terror perpetrated by the Pinochet regime.Chris Andrews’ name on a book is a better endorsement, to my mind, than an author blurb.But there’s more to Distant Star than a prose style marked by its brutal clarity or a challenging and engaging plot. Bolaño develops his ideas in unusual ways and does so without pretension.