‘Henri Simon Leprince’ by Roberto Bolaño

I have an enormous soft spot for Bolaño. Indeed, I spent several years trying to write like him. In part this is because, if you aspire to be a writer, he seems so desirable to imitate; his subject, especially in the short stories, is you, yourself — or him, as you would want yourself to be. He’s no mean imitator himself, of course. Intone the opening paragraphs of this in a darkened room and you could be listening to the opening of a Borges story, ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ say. Despite its satiric possibilities, I can’t help clinging to this quickly delivered story — of a bad writer who ascends to a kind of heroic status — as a form of consolation, (rather than the warning it claims to be).  

In Last Evenings on Earth (trans. Chris Andrews, Harvill Secker, 2007) and available online here

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