Friday, August 21, 2009

For December: Amulet by Roberto Bolano

For December, we have chosen Roberto Bolano's Amulet:
Amulet embodies in one woman's breathtaking voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America. It begins: "This is going to be a horror story."

The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman in Mexico City in the 1960s, who becomes the "Mother of Mexican Poetry." Tall, thin, and blonde, she is famous as the sole person who resists the army's invasion of the university campus: she hides in a ladies' room for twelve days. As she waits out the occupiers, with nothing to eat, Auxilio recalls her adventures in exile, and talks about two elderly exiled lions of Spanish poetry, three remarkable women, and her favorite young poet, Arturo Belano (Bolaño's fictional stand-in throughout his books). Her stories refract light and Auxilio is soon in strange landscapes: in "the dark night of the soul of Mexico City," in ice-bound mountainsides, in a bathroom where moonlight shines, moving slowly from tile to tile, and in a terrifying chasm. Amulet keenly demonstrates, as The Los Angeles Times noted, that "Bolaño is by far the most exciting writer to have come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time."
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