‘Gomez Palacio’ by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews

I wouldn’t try to imitate Bolaño, and he’s difficult to teach because he does lot of things you’re not supposed to. But I love his short work, and the way the stories all bleed into each other. Shadowed as it is by exile, his short fiction contains a loneliness and a cinematic spareness, as in this story set in the Mexican desert, where people watch each other from hotel rooms or lay-bys. He’s often funny, too, and never fails to provide a strange, stark image. In another story in this collection, Last Evenings on Earth, a father and grown-up son eat Iguana and chilli sauce at a roadside cafe. I think about that scene all the time.

First published in Spanish in Putas asesinas, Anagrama, 2001. First published in translation in The New Yorker, July 2005 and available to subscribers to read here, and collected in Last Evenings on Earth, New Directions, 2006

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