Sunday, October 07, 2007

The New Yorker: "The Insufferable Gaucho" by Roberto Bolaño

In this story, after a realistic beginning in which the lawyer Pereda’s life in Buenos Aires is told – his wife, his children, his career as a judge – Argentina’s economic collapse leads to a break in the story that then resumes in a more magical tone. Argentina’s famed ranches are in ruins, the cows replaced by rabbits, men of courage replaced by coke-snorting adolescents. Once a gentleman of Argentine culture, Pereda no longer belongs in the city, and if he also doesn’t belong on the pampas, at least he has an objective, a goal – to return the land to its former glory. And honestly, I think that’s all I see here, with not a lot to talk about. I liked the illustration, though. I'd be interested to know if anyone got more out of the story than I did.

October 1, 2007: “The Insufferable Gaucho” by Roberto Bolaño

7 comments:

donna d. vitucci said...

i couldn't get very far into it. just looking at the text, the huge blocks of text, and no dialogue to speak of...i said, the heck w/it. too much else out there i wanna read. i only tried reading it coz i was on the stairmaster at the gym and that NYorker was all brought to read and i'd already read everything else in the mag of interest to me--even the restaurant blurb & theatre reviews in the front even tho i don't live in NYC and such reviews don't matter much one way or the other to me...yes, i was THAT desperate and i still couldn't get into this gaucho story.

Clifford Garstang said...

Well, he did say it was insufferable! (Hey, I read it on the elliptical trainer at my gym . . .) Okay, if I weren't committed (only to myself mind you) to read and comment on all TNY stories this year, I might have stopped, too. But I've been hearing so much about Bolano that I thought I should really try to understand him, and I was hoping for magical realism. Except for the rabbits, which were hilarious, I was disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I believe you missed the point; the writings of Bolano break free from the ubiquitous "macondismo" of Latin American Literature, and so an expectation of magical realism would therefore leave the reader disappointed.

Clifford Garstang said...

Perhaps. But the story itself creates that expectation, so I'm not sure I buy that this is what Bolano was doing -- in this story at least. I recently picked up a copy of The Savage Detectives and I'm looking forward to reading that.

Bingham said...

Anyone looking for Magical Realism will be disappointed, Bolano was a very public critic of not only Allende and Marquez but the movement as a whole. He was a great believer in Julio Cortazar, but Cortazar isn't really Magical realism, despite what the university professors might like to say.
I've loved both the recent Bolano stories in the New Yorker, especially since they're not blunt objects clobbering the reader over the head with morals or meaning. Digest them slowly, savor the images and his prose, and maybe then you'll enjoy them better.

Anonymous said...

im a highschool student and my teacher made us all get New Yorker magazines and read the story in it and i was very disappointed in this story

Lynn Dee said...

The Insufferable Gaucho was one of my favorite stories from the collection of the same name, but then, I'm a big big fan of Roberto Bolaño. I just like being where he is. As one critic wrote: "I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction." Me too.