Woes of the True Policeman

Roberto Bolano, Author, Roberto Bolaano, Author, Natasha Wimmer, Translator
Roberto Bola%C3%B1o, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-26674-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-61120-974-7
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Hardcover - 250 pages - 978-0-670-06524-0
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Hardcover - 250 pages - 978-1-4472-3330-5
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In his incomplete final novel, Bolaño (2666) begins with Amalfitano, a 50-year-old philosophy professor at the University of Barcelona, who loses his position after he's accused of having an affair with one of his male students. With his adolescent daughter, Rosa, he decides to move to Santa Teresa, a Mexican border town, where he finds a new teaching position at the local university. There he becomes friendly with an artist named Castillo, who makes a living forging Larry Rivers paintings to sell to gullible Texan art lovers. From here, the narrative splinters as Bolaño details Rosa's tours of Santa Teresa, itemizes the literary career of the novelist J.M.G. Arcimboldi, and delves into the backstory of the Santa Teresa detective charged with shadowing Amalfitano. Throughout, the professor maintains a correspondence with his former lover, Padilla, who in time confesses that he has AIDS. Began in the 1980s, this novel never really comes together to form a cohesive whole. Dedicated to both Manuel Puig and Philip K. Dick, the book veers close to the latter's habitual sense of dislocation. It may be best enjoyed by fans of the late author's work who appreciate his iconoclastic takes on literary standard-bearers. (Nov.)
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