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A hopeful tale foe a time of inconvenient truths… critique ro Texci artist Robert Stikmonz For the unabashed idealist in everyone.`’ “Prepare yourself, this book is different… a mind-bending read.” Midwest Book Review AUSTIN, TEXAS Roberto Bolatio days when he was on fire and days when he was smoldering, it seemed that from the mid-nineties up till his death lack of narrative ideas was never a problem.” Andrews sees that: “In Amulet, and all the idealists who commit themselves to a field where the chances of symbolic and financial gain are very slim indeed. I think he felt that he betrayed the cause, in a way, by going over to prose. He admires the sacrifices made for poetry while lamenting them: health, career prospects, financial security, respectability. Auxilio Lacouture is a saint in the religion of poetry, because she gives up all those things, and her own poetic ambitions as well, content in her role as the mother of Mexican poetry. This is an aspect of Bolaiio’s work that is likely to seem exotic in North America, where poetry is not taken so seriously outside the universities, but I think it would be a mistake to see poetry primarily as a metaphor for something more general:’ Amulet is dedicated to Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, a friend and Infrarealist co-conspirator of Bolatio’s immortalized in Savage Detectives. Andrews concedes that Amulet “is an indirect elegy for Mario Santiago, another emblematic figure: the pure poet, the poete maudit, Bolaiio’s unlucky double. Bolafio must have thought, sometimes, ‘That could have been my life too’: obscurity, poverty, addiction, early death. They were born in the same year, 1953, and in the end they died only five years apart.” Wimmer, who also has translated writers such as Mario Vargas Llosa and Pedro Juan Gutierrez, says of her work on Savage Detectives: “I definitely felt from the beginning that this was a translation that would be required to stand the test of time, and I did my best to use language that wouldn’t date. I try to do that anyway. But it’s also true that the better the novel, the easier the translation tends to be. To some degree, a great novel carries the translationthe better the book itself, the better the reader feels the translation to be.” Andrews, an award-winning Australian poet, has a similar view: “Overall, Bolatio has a fairly robust style: not that it’s easy to translate, but it’s powerful and distinctive, so that in a sense the task of the translator is not to get in the way, or, rather to transmit the impact as fully and as directly as possible.” Amulet’s prose is not instructive or pushy. Bolano wryly and blithely accepts the demands of art. Art wants every damn thing and may offer back only the understanding that it needs every damn thing. Amulet seeks not to subvert, but to find waspy succor in the recognitions of art’s unchanging burden. Amulet and the yearning represented in its pages is an anthem to march by, to carry as one stands. There is a ring of eternal return in these pages. Souls that make lyrical sense of the universe are a constant in Bolafio: as old as the Earth, as old as the desire for eulogy that accommodates all that is fine. Despite what may appear a tendency in his characters and in his lifetoward cynicism and judgment directed at an arbitrary canon, Bolano was obsessed with his literary afterlife. Two of his better short pieces, “A Literary Adventure” and “Dance Card;’ find their gravity in this worry. There are rumors that he might have postponed the liver transplant he needed so that he could see that his last book, 2666, was ready to be considered a good draft, reasoning that he could start the revisions after an operation that never came. Roberto Ontiveros is a freelance writer living in New Braunfels. AUGUST 10, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25