constructing language

Work Site - Harvard Square

Work Site – Harvard Square

I’ve blogged about science and related matters up to this point…so it’s time to change course and bring in some literature.  I’ve been slowly going through the work of Chilean author Roberto Bolano.  I’m drawn to his method for story-telling and the way his stories blaze forward with an unnerving tempo.  In addition, he has a way of describing characters and situations that emphasizes the simple realities that we often can’t describe without long, philosophical treatises.  I’ve included 2 examples of his literary voice – certainly not the best or only examples – but sufficient to provide some words for thought.

Description of a character, from Last Evenings on Earth:

“Another aside: Tony was very hardworking; he worked harder (by far) than any of Anne’s previous lovers.  And another:  Tony never got angry, never argued, as if he could see absolutely no point in trying to make someone else agree with him, as if, for him, everyone was lost, so how could one lost person presume to show another the way.  Especially since the way, as well as being hidden from everyone, probably didn’t even exist.”

Describing the angst a character feels about the presence of a vase in a room, from Amulet:

“Once I was in that frame of mind, I even started looking for reasons to justify the continuing presence of the vase, and sure enough various reasons occurred to me, but what’s the point of listing them, what purpose could that serve?  All I knew for sure was that the vase was there, although it could also have been sitting on the ledge of an open window in Montevideo or on my father’s desk, in Doctor Lacouture’s old house, my father the doctor who died so long ago I’ve almost forgotten him, and even now the pillars of oblivion are collapsing onto that house and desk.”

I do enjoy Bolano’s prose.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’ve felt the pillars of oblivion collapsing around me from time to time.



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