Selected Shorts: Roberto Bolaño

“I would have liked to be a homicide detective, much more than a writer. Of that I’m absolutely sure. Someone who could go back alone, at night, to the scene of the crime, and not be afraid of ghosts.”

–Roberto Bolaño

Last spring, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Barcelona with Jorge Herralde, founder and director of Anagrama, Roberto Bolaño’s publisher and his longtime friend. Jorge told me great stories and made me want to read everything Roberto Bolaño had written, so it was a real pleasure to learn that Selected Shorts was airing a special episode that would take a closer look at Bolaño’s work and his influences. On this weekend’s show we start with two stories by the master of the surreal, Jorge Luis Borges: “The Shape of the Sword” translated by David A. Yates, and performed by Charles Keating (As the World Turns) and “Dreamtigers” translated by Andrew Hurley, and performed by our own Isaiah Sheffer. Next we examine the work of Javier Marias, whose dream-like and surprising “On the Honeymoon,” translated by Margaret Jull Costa, is performed by Ivan Hernandez (Miami Noir). Finally we hear the master Bolaño himself, with his story “William Burns,” translated by Chris Andrews, and performed by Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire). If you’ve read 2666 or The Savage Detectives, this will be a great program to listen to and hear for yourself how Bolaño brought elements of the surreal to his work, spliced it with historical facts and mixed it with hard-boiled plots of detective novels to create his own, original, magnificent style. To find your local station/time, go here, and to read more about Roberto Bolaño, I would recommend  this piece by Marcela Valdes, which originally appeared in The Nation.