Every time I’ve found myself on American soil and I’ve made the mistake of admitting that I’m a fiction writer who comes from Latin America, that person will immediately pull out García Márquez, and will do it, what’s more, with a self-satisfied smile, as if he were saying to me, I know you. Now, those same North Americans have begun to pull out BolañoIf you are interested in furthering acquaintance and understanding of the writer, now comes Roberto Bolaño: The Last Interview & Other Conversations (translated by Sybil Perez, Melville House). In addition to his last conversation with Monica Maristain, there are three others, including a 2002 chat with Carmen Boullosa published in Bomb magazine which ends with Bolaño exhorting, Whatever the case, the important thing is to keep reading it. That’s more important than writing it, don’t you think? The truth is, reading is always more important than writing.
Marcela Valdes’s introduction to this slender volume agrees:
As a teenager, he reads Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival and is captivated by the idea of a lay and independent medieval knight. His own holy grail turns out to be a dead man’s diary he discovers in an abandoned shtetl.
A lay and independent knight: these words could describe both the great detectives and the great writers who wander through the pages of 2666. All of them are loners who devote themselves to reading and swimming in the abyss. Being a writer in this world is as dangerous as being a detective, walking through a graveyard, looking at ghosts.