Todo sobre tu bolañomanía (Oprah incluida) / Heriberto Yépez

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bolañomania (Including Oprah)

Bolañomania continues. 2666 – his mammoth posthumous tome – keeps appearing on all the lists of the best books of 2008 in the U.S.A., where madness reaches the lowest depths.

Recently, O, The Oprah Magazine – the pre-Obama of the self-help talk shows – indirectly explained the inexplicable boom to us. I say it’s inexplicable because if Oprah is feminism transformed into a yo-yo diet, Bolaño was Mr. Misogyny 1975. It seems her Book Club hasn’t found out yet. Much less that the dead girls from Juárez came from the book Huesos en el desierto by Sergio González Rodríguez.

If I were Sergio I’d sue Bolaño’s editors for plagiarism just to get some of the royalties. Bob Bolaño would also suggest he do that.

The review from Oprah says: “Holding a reviewer's copy of 2666 in public was like brandishing the newest Harry Potter at the playground three months before the on-sale date.” It’s so cool to be seen reading Bolaño! Who would have guessed it? The dead women of Juárez (refried) are perfect for making friends in the park!

“Bolaño has particularly captured the imaginations of younger readers because his work is rather like a video game or a set of nested webpages…” WHAT? Some reviews smell like weed. That explains the allusion to Harry Potter.

“Stories within stories with many apparent authors, and little sense of predetermined purpose.” Translation: 2666 isn’t as good as The Savage Detectives, but it is more impressive; Bolaño died before he was able to revise it and it’s a brick you have to praise so as to not seem like a beast. Though you won’t stop being a kiss ass because 2666 isn’t fleshed out, even though The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and Time all say it is.

But the best part comes next, what finished knocking down the fence: “His work evokes American pulp…” Ha! I don’t think so, but OK, go on, “…Gabriel García Márquez…” It’s so obvious that One Hundred Years is the only Latin American book they’ve read! Bolaño would have shit his pants if he found out he’d been declared as Gabolaño of the Year, “… and Mexican surrealist…” – Mexican surrealism? Oh boy, I didn’t even realize it existed – “…and Mexican surrealist Juan Rulfo.” No fucking way! Rulfo a surrealist? In his realism, but not in mine, baby. Oprah is so ludicrous.

“The book is long and intense… and so will repay every moment of attention you can give it.” In other words, we know that no one will read even 25% of it but what a perfect book to give as a gift or for lifting weights with your eyelids.

Bolaño’s success in the United States illustrates the misunderstandings of transnational techno-marketing wherein a work becomes merchandise and in order to recommend it one has to list it alongside previous sales or suggestions that the hybrid is hypnotic, now that the remix is the New Neutral, the New Black (AKA, the New White!).

Bolaño couldn’t have imagined it. But Bolañomania was inevitable.

In the 70s, Bolaño thought he was untamable; today, Herralde exports him, Obama loves him and, best of all, Oprah is an Infrarrealist.

{ Heriberto Yépez, Suplemento Laberinto, Milenio (México D.F.), 10 January 2009 }


Vinz said...

Ha, ha, nice review, but let's not get confused.
I totally agree on your views of Bolañomarketing, and the way it works (although it says more to me about a culture who takes Oprah's advice on reading instead of Auster or Updike's, but whatever), but let's not play down the books merits.
Yes, all reviews are hogwash, but 2666 is a Titanic effort to combine different styles, moving from german litterature to russian to american roman noir styles, all compounded into one book.
I thought the sole idea of even thinking of writing something like that was mindboggling, the fact that he did, astounding, and the literary value up to bullshit critics, I guess.
I wrote something in spanish, on a related topic, here:

Guillermo Parra said...

Hi Vinz,

Completely agree with you about 2666. Los detectives salvajes and 2666 changed my life when I read them. I do find it very weird that he's become such a bestseller in the U.S. but that doesn't change my love of his work.

I think Heriberto (who wrote this) is simply being polemical about Bolaño, which I imagine Bolaño himself would appreciate. Thanks for the link to your essay, I'll go read it later tonight.

By the way, we have a friend in common, I think: Simón Bravo who tells me he knew you at UCV in the 90s.

Vinz said...

Wow, the internet really is a pañuelo. Simón and I had a brief stint in NYC when we were trying to launch a newspaper over there. He wrote one of the best articles in that magazine, from my point of view. Anyways.
How ironic, we can't but wonder, that Bolaño is now an American best seller. A writer friend of mine thinks it's just part of the whole publishing machine, the mechanism of taking some tontos útiles and displaying them so as to get credibility back for publishing houses looking for the next Harry Potter. That way, they avoid being seen as money hungry whores, and reivindicate their cultural role.
But it's all hogwash, the good writers don't get published and the amount of crap in print is unbelievable.