The Secrets of Evil by Robert Bolaño

“This story is very simple, although it could have been very complicated. Also, it’s incomplete, because stories like this don’t have an ending.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 144 pages.
Read August 31, 2018.

Should books be published posthumously? Books like Go Set A Watchman changed the way fans looked at some of their favourite characters and its publication created a lot of controversy about whether or not it should have been. With this particular book, many Bolaño fans seemed thrilled for another chance to read the last remains of a brilliant writer. I for one, am also glad. Robert Bolaño died in 2013, at the age of fifty, of liver disease. This book is a compilation of stories that were discovered on his computer after he died.  Despite having not read anything by Bolaño beforehand, this book was given as a very thoughtful gift and reminder that even the most talented of writers have a process and that not everything that they write is going to be palatable right away. Knowing these small details about this short story complication allowed me to really appreciate its contents, albeit even unfinished.

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Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño. Source: The Globe and Mail

One of my favourite stories in this compilation is “Colonia Lindavista”. This dream-like narrative involves a young teen writer who often listens to his neighbours having sex. late at night. The narrator is curious about their acts but is more intrigued by the silence that follows. The narrator, like many of us, wonders about the private lives of other people.  Many of the stories are brief and offer a glimpse into the private realm of a character but don’t mistake this brevity for lack of depth, Bolaño’s writing style is more than equipped to deliver a full immersion into a character or story.

I read this novel in one sitting, and I would recommend the same for any readers looking to approach it as if you read the stories individually you may not be able to fully appreciate the stories as some are more ‘finished’ than others. The biggest take away I got from this novel is a reflection on my own writing and enforcing my ‘never-give-up’ attitude. It has also instilled a desire to read more by Bolaño to get a better taste for his work as I sense a genius lurking in between the pages of this short compilation.

 

Interesting Facts about Ernest Hemingway

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny the influence this man has had on literature and beyond.

Originally published on October 29, 2015.


On this day, 57 years ago, Ernest Hemingway passed away.  He was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois and he tragically committed suicide on July 2, 1961. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny the influence this man has had on literature and beyond.  Here are some interesting facts that about Hemingway that you may not have known.

      1. When his favourite bar moved locations, Hemingway took a urinal from the bar to his Key West home because he claimed he had already ‘pissed away’ so much money into the urinal that he practically owned it. He converted it into a garden foundation that still stands today.
      2. Related, Hemingway loved cats. That garden fountain he created from the urinal served as a drinking spot for the ground’s cats. He had a six-toed cat named Snowball and it’s rumoured that the remaining six-toed cats on the grounds today are descendants from Snowball.

“Cat’s were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man. “ – Ernest Hemingwayhemingwaycat

        1. He’s the Chuck Norris of authors. He survived two plane crashes (on consecutive days) a ruptured kidney, skin cancer, hepatitis, anthrax, malaria, diabetes, a ruptured spleen, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull and a ruptured liver in his lifetime. The only thing that could kill Hemingway was himself, which he did with his favourite shotgun that he purchased at Abercrombie and Fitch.
        2. He served in WWI as an ambulance driver. His novel, Farewell to Arms, is a semi-autobiographical account of his time there. He actually wanted to fight as a soldier but was denied due to his bad eye-sight.
        3. For my Canadian readers, in 1919, after returning from WWI, he accepted a job in Toronto and wrote for the Toronto Star.
        4. During his 62 years of life, he was married 4 times and divorced 3 times.
        5. He once examined F. Scott Fitzgerald’s penis after a discussion he had with Zelda Fitzgerald in which she claimed that size of a man’s penis couldn’t make any woman happy. Hemingway reportedly said that Fitzgerald was of ‘normal’ size.
        6. He was a KGB spy. He grew paranoid in his last few years of life and believed that FBI was spying on him. He took the cover name of “Argo”. He didn’t end up being all that helpful to the KGB, but the FBI was indeed watching him, Edgard Hoover personally placed him under surveillance.

Random fact: There is an Ernest Hemingway look-a-like society: http://www.hemingwaylookalikes.com/


Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/ernest-hemingway-9334498

https://huckberry.com/journal/posts/ernest-hemingway-in-key-west

http://www.biography.com/people/ernest-hemingway-9334498#personal-struggles-and-suicide

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

http://www.messynessychic.com/2013/06/18/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-ernest-hemingway-like-he-was-a-kgb-spy/

http://www.kickassfacts.com/20-kickass-interesting-facts-ernest-hemingway/