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Amuleto [Download] ➶ Amuleto By Roberto Bolaño – La voz arrebatada de Auxilio Lacouture narra e indaga un crimen atroz y lejano Auxilio uruguaya de mediana edad se oculta en los lavabos de mujeres durante la toma de la universidad por la policía en La voz arrebatada de Auxilio Lacouture narra e indaga un crimen atroz y lejano Auxilio uruguaya de mediana edad se oculta en los lavabos de mujeres durante la toma de la universidad por la policía en México en septiembre de Recluida allí por varios días podrá avizorar los años ya vividos en México y los años por vivir Rememora entonces a la poetisa Lilian Serpas ue hizo el amor con el Che y a su infortunado hijo a los poetas españoles León Felipe y Pedro Garfias a uienes Auxilio sirvió como doméstica voluntaria y también aparece Arturo Belano personaje central en Los detectives salvajes de la ue esta novela es una digresión fractal Pero sobre todo se narra un viaje por un mundo el Polo Norte de la memoria ue se extiende por douier «Consigue dar vida a un personaje ue sin duda uedará grabado en la memoria del lector» Ignacio Martínez de Pisón ABC; «En lugar de ser un libro menor es una obra más arriesgada y por tanto más minoritaria ue Los detectives salvajes» Mihály Dés Lateral.

10 thoughts on “Amuleto

  1. s.penkevich s.penkevich says:

    History is like a horror storyThe student youth of Mexico raised their fists in protest during the summer and fall of 1968 marching against the government towards the violent climax of the Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2nd ¹ Student demonstrations were organized in response to the killings of several students by the police called in to repress a fight between gang members of two rival schools—the Mexican National Autonomous University UNAM and National Politechnical Institute IPN—and were further aggravated by the upcoming summer Olympics taking place in Mexico City The Olympic Committee headed by an American chose Mexico as the first third world country to host an Olympic event and protestors saw this as an attempt to portray Mexico as a country stabilized by American support and financial backing Protestors took to the streets shouting ‘ We Don't Want Olympic Games We Want a Revolution’ Roberto Bolaño’s slim yet satisfying Amulet has as its centerpiece the Mexican army occupation of UNAM using the violent event as a nucleus around which narrator Auxilio Lacouture’s life events orbit Finding herself trapped in the UNAM bathroom during the occupation a subtle yet monumental act of resistance Auxilio becomes unstuck in time narrating events both past present and future yet always returning to the moonlight reflecting off the tiles of the lonely bathroom floor Through pure poetic ecstasy Bolaño uses Auxilio’s beautiful mind and perspective to brilliantly juxtapose seemingly disparate elements in order to paint a unified and emotionally charged portrait of the struggles sorrows and strife of the Latin American peopleStudent demonstration August 27th 1968‘ I could say I am the mother of Mexican poetry Auxilio says on the opening page ‘ but I better not I know all the poets and all the poets know me’ Drifting in extreme poverty through the streets of Mexico City like so many others Auxilio is a glorious soul that finds odd jobs at the university to earn her keep while spending her nights in drunken sublimity with the young Mexican poets such as the authors alter ego Arturo Belano caring for them as a mother while being shamelessly enraptured by their poetry Auxilio has a rare gift of seeing the events of the world past and future unfold before her eyes unlocked during her isolation in the UNAM bathroom but with this gift comes great costs It would be easy to dismiss her as crazy a woman missing teeth ‘ I lost my teeth on the alter of human sacrifice’ and crying at the words of people half her age before leaving the bars without paying yet that would be a grave misunderstanding and would deny oneself an illuminating look into her heart and soul I never paid or hardly ever I was the one who could see into the past and those who can see into the past never pay But I could also see into the future and vision of that kind comes at a high price life sometimes or sanity So I figured I was paying night after forgotten night though nobody realized it; I was paying for everyone’s round the kids who would be poets and those who never would I like to believe that one of the many gifts of literature is to cultivate a open minded view and to learn acceptance of others Auxilio must face the horrors of history of existence in a way others cannot and must travel to the vicious depths of her soul that most minds form a wall to protect themselves from having to journey into Like a snake that unhinges its jaw to swallow a large meal Auxilio must unhinge her mind—at least by the common socially accepted or clinical standards²in order to swallow such enormous thoughts and burdensome truths She witnesses the pains and poverty of others and is charged with the task of putting it all together to witness the birth of History and document it across the ages The birth of History can’t wait and if we arrive late you won’t see anything only ruins and smoke an empty landscape and you’ll be alone again forever even if you go out and get drunk with your poet friends every night Bolaño possessed an incredible gift for organizing seemingly unrelated events into a unified message Auxilio’s skipping across time bears witness to many different characters and subtly probes into their hearts making Amulet almost feel like a collection of short stories with them all orbiting around one narrator Yet somehow through the juxtaposition Bolaño manages to make each story mesh creating a space between each idea where the reader’s mind will occupy and abstractly connect each element each theme into one larger all encompassing image These are stories of poverty resilience heartbreak rebellion bravery and even an investigation into the story of Erigone and Orestes The conflict between students and government is also juxtaposed with the overthrowing of Allende in Chile in which Belano plays a role While no connection is never made overt the themes of conflict and revolution are enough to give the reader a sense of the violence haunting Bolaño What is most impressive and satisfying however is the way Bolaño orchestrates a world where literature is of the utmost importance giving meaning and validation to the lives of those who give meaning through its application to the sights and sounds of the horror show of History playing out around them Much in the ways Auxilio binds the lives of those around her into one common driving force Amulet serves to bind together the oeuvre of its author As Distant Star is the elaboration of the final story in Nazi Literature in the Americas Amulet expands on Auxilio’s small but unforgettable account in The Savage Detectives While Amulet may be a minor work it plays a key role in the Bolaño universe expanding on the themes that constitute the life giving roots of his work The idea that violence plagues Latin America through all eternity is glimpsed even connecting itself to his magnum opus 2666 through a hallucinatory passage as Auxilio follows Belano towards a potentially deadly confrontation Then we walked down the Avenida Guerrero; they weren’t stepping so lightly any and I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic either Guerrero at that time of night is like a cemetery than an avenue not a cemetery in 1974 or in 1968 or 1975 but a cemetery in the year 2666 a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else This intertextuality is one of the many reasons that it is hard to go long without returning to the poetic pages of a Bolaño book creating a world that seems to come alive through repeat charactersShort yet overflowing with passages of sheer beauty reminiscent of Bolaño’s prose poems that are sure to drain your pen dry underlining each gem Amulet is a wonderful trip through horrific and melancholy events Auxilio may only play a small role in the uprisings yet her small role forever transfixes her into mythological magnitude in history becoming a beacon of hope and a symbol of fortitude for the weak and weary to seek comfort and redemption The final pages are the most haunting culminating all the sorrows and struggles into a song of revolution that will live on regardless of the body count at the oppressive hands of both the army and history Similarly while Bolaño may have passed his voice lives on It is certainly a voice worth listening to45‘ I'll tell you my friends it's all in the nerves The nerves that tense and relax as you approach the edges of companionship and love The razor sharp edges of companionship and love’¹The following history of the 1968 student revolution is paraphrased from the article October 2nd is Not Forgotten ²As discussed in Machado De Assis’ The Alienist we are all uniuely wired or perhaps uniuely weird and who is really to say what constitutes sanity Understandably there must be clinical standards I’m not here to disparage the psychological community in any way however Auxilio is a wonderful literary example of how we often write off others without truly attempting to understand them and see the world through their eyes By dismissing her as crazy you lose the opportunity to unlock the world and learn through her Laziness is similar and often dismissing someone as lazy is actually the lazy way out; even what appears as laziness is a highly complex set of emotions and actions that offer deeper insights into a person Not that this is a universal law but hopefully you get the point I’m moralizing now which makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable so I’ll conclude by reiterating that literature and characters like Auxilio plead that we try harder to understand and accept one another instead of casting one another aside through negatively connotative dismissals‘ I decided to tell the truth even if it meant being pointed at’

  2. Chris_P Chris_P says:

    Roberto Bolano – AmuletJust a moment while I’m trying to dry myself after this dive into a sea of words A sea in which you’re in and which is in you at the same time A sea sometimes calm but never too calm and other times swirling with fluctuating intensity roaring and crashing never allowing even a glimpse of land Reading Amulet is like taking a nauseous dreamy ride on a rollercoaster with a bottle of vodka in your hand The narrator calls herself the mother of Mexican poetry To me she is a symbol of many things which I dare not name She finds herself trapped in a bathroom stall during the army occupation of the Mexican National Autonomous University and there she starts recollecting moments from the past as well as the future Memories float and grow around her like a cocoon which protects and nourishes all that's heroic and worth saving in this rapidly changing world Mesmerizing and rousing at the same time this little book begs for a re read As a matter of fact it begs to be taken out of the shelf every once in a while for a uick read through random pages I wonder what this will feel likeNot uite dry enough but who am I kidding? Something tells me Bolano’s sea is one you never stop carrying inside you

  3. Ian "Marvin" Graye Ian "Marvin" Graye says:

    When Only a Wedge Will DoI read this because I’m a lazy cheapskateI bought it for 5 reduced from 50 in a recent Borders saleBut I was looking for a relatively short wedgie between larger undertakings the next of which will be Haruki Murakami’s “184”At 184 pages it’s of a novella than a novel although I’ve never really understood or cared much for the distinctionWhat’s important for me is how much the author put into those pages and how much we the readers get out of themAs I write this I’m hovering between rating it five or four stars I wonder what I’ll manage to persuade myselfGalvanised IronyFor each generation there is sometimes not always an event that seems to either polarize or galvanise peopleIt could horrify or unite themIt could symbolize conflicts or trends that might not yet have become apparent and only become obvious retrospectivelyIn 1937 it could have been the bombing of Guernica which was depicted in Picasso’s famous work of cubismIn 1945 it could have been the bombing of DresdenIn 1956 it could have been the invasion of HungaryIn 1968 it could have been the invasion of CzechoslovakiaIn 2001 it could have been the collapse of the Twin TowersSince the advent of TV and 24 hour news there are so many of these events that you could almost argue that none stands out from the othersEurope 1968On 22 March 1968 a small group of students poets and musicians occupied an administration building at the University of ParisAfter the Police were called the group left the building peacefullyHowever subseuent conflicts resulted in the closure of the University on 2 MayDemonstrations protests strikes and riots occurred over Paris throughout May eventually petering out in June and JulyOn the evening of 20 August 1968 the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact invaded CzechoslovakiaMexico 1968Meanwhile on 12 October 1968 the athletes of the world were to gather in Mexico City for the Games of the XIX OlympiadIt was to be the first time the Summer Olympics would ever be held outside Europe the United States or AustraliaThe Mexican Government treated the Olympics as a uniue opportunity to showcase the country to the worldIt spent US150M US75BN in today’s terms on the preparation for the games money that the basically Third World country could ill affordAfter a number of student protests against government oppression there was a peaceful protest of 50000 students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico “UNAM” on 1 August 1968The fact that such a huge protest was peaceful convinced the public that the protesters were not just violent gangs or rabble rousersHowever in mid September the President of Mexico ordered the Army to occupy the UNAM CampusMany staff and teachers were beaten and arrestedThen on 2 October just ten days before the Opening Ceremony around 10000 university and high school students assembled in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in TlatelolcoWhat followed was a massacre by the Police and Army in which between 30 and 1000 protesters and bystanders were killed depending on who you believeThe Plaza is closed off by buildings on three sidesThe Government basically closed off the fourth side and started shootingThirteen Days in a Cubicle“Amulet” takes place over thirteen days and twelve nights from the eighteenth to the thirtieth of SeptemberAuxilio Lacouture is a Uruguayan national who lives in Mexico CityShe loves poetry and might even be a poet herselfShe works part time at UNAM and cleans the apartments of a number of her favourite poets “I am a friend to all Mexicans I could say I am the mother of Mexican poetry but I better not I know all the poets and all the poets know me”On 18 September she finds herself in the middle of the whirlwind that blows through Mexico City “I could say one mother of a zephyr is blowing down the centuries but I better not”At the very point the Government evacuates the campus she is sitting in a cubicle in the women’s bathroom on the fourth floor of the building that houses the Faculty of Philosophy and LiteratureShe evades capture and remains in the bathroom for the duration of the novel dreaming and reading her book of poetry while outside the campus is guarded by the Army“Amulet” could be an almost stream of consciousness record of her musings over the thirteen days only it’s accurate to describe it as a river of conscienceIt concerns political issues but it’s not an ideological tract “This is going to be a horror story A story of murder detection and horror But it won’t appear to be for the simple reason that I am the teller Told by me it won’t seem like that Although in fact it’s the story of a terrible crime”It’s easy to read its economical and elouent but most importantly Bolano's prose has an hypnotic droning beauty that suits the judgment of history on an isolated but all too freuent outbreak of evilHeroes of the OppressionThe heroes of the novel are the poets and paintersThey are latter day godsTheir youth curiosity and expressiveness embody the best that civilization has to offerThey are its life forceWhile poets write and recite while artists wield their brushes society has a heartbeatWhen they stop life stops civilization stops “The dark night of the soul advances through the streets of Mexico City sweeping all before it And now it is rare to hear singing where once everything was a song The dust cloud reduces everything to dust First the poets then love then when it seems to be sated and about to disperse the cloud returns to hang high over your city or your mind with a mysterious air that means it has no intention of moving”Auxilio is the mother of the poets their audience their protector their sustenanceThis responsibility has to be borne by a woman a mother who caresShe draws her own sustenance from other women such as the Catalan painter Remedios Varo and the Mexican poet Lilian Serpas of whom she says “I know she that she has seen many bad things the ascension of the devil the unstoppable procession of termites climbing the Tree of Life the conflict between the Enlightenment and the Shadow or the Empire or the Kingdom of Order which are all proper names for the irrational stain that is bent on turning us into beasts or robots and which has been fighting against the Enlightenment since the beginning of time”Descent into the MaelstromIn the last chapter Auxilio decides to leave the building to “come down from the mountains” where she has exiled herself “I decided not to starve to death in the women’s bathroom I decided not to go crazy I decided not to become a beggar I decided to tell the truth even if it meant being pointed at”She sees two birds singing in a treeThey watch as a cloud sweeps across a broad field in the direction of an abyssAt first she thinks that it is the cloud casting a dark shadow over the valleyThen she realises it is “a multitude of young people an interminable legion of young people on the march to somewhereI was too far away to see their faces But I saw them I don’t know if they were creatures of flesh and blood or ghosts But I saw themThey were probably ghosts”Then she realises that they were singing “singing and heading for the abyss”It was a “barely audible song a song of war and love because although the children were clearly marching to war the way they marched recalled the superb theatrical attitudes of loveand although the song that I heard was about war about the heroic deeds of a whole generation of young Latin Americans led to sacrifice I knew that above and beyond all it was about courage and mirrors desire and pleasure”Onward uestioning SoldiersFor every generation there are some who march and sing there are some who resist oppression while the rest of us take the path of least resistanceThere are some of us who hide in cubicles for thirteen days yet can still find it in themselves to admire cubistsHundreds maybe a thousand died that day at Tlatelolco“Amulet” is Roberto Bolano’s tribute and thank you to themIt is also a recording of their song an amulet that will hopefully bring the rest of us the survivors another generation of children and young people good luck and protectionOlympic PostscriptIn the 200m medal award ceremony African American athletes Tommie Smith gold and John Carlos bronze raised their black gloved fists as a symbol of Black Power The Australian Peter Norman silver wore an American civil rights badge as support for them on the podium Avery Brundage President of the International Olympic Committee firmly believed that politics should have no role in the OlympicsIn the short term Smith and Carlos were suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic Village In the long term the IOC banned Smith and Carlos from the Olympic Games for life and Norman was omitted from the Australian 1972 Olympic teamThis review is dedicated to people who resisted oppression when it would have been personally safer and easier not toOctober 7 2011

  4. Fabian Fabian says:

    This story breaks away from its box Roberto Bolaño destroys the reader’s preexisting expectations as what the reader sees is rarely what he gets I’ve only previously read Los Detectives Salvajes before and was immediately happy to see that this was an extension of that novel or accurately it works as a companion piece I love this kind of stuff Complimentary works are extremely difficult to pull off as one bad novel might pollute the other one Take for instance the Hannibal Lecter uadrilogy Thomas Harris’ first Lecter tale was the superb Red Dragon which then catapulted the villain to fame in The Silence of the Lambs but years later Hannibal fumbled becoming a cataclysmic literary disaster followed by the last gasp in those grey ashes Hannibal Rising But in this case both novels are as different in style as could be though perhaps not different in theme Bolaño chronicles an all but forgotten literary movement that occurred almost half a century ago at the epicenter of Mexico City He describes a bohemian existence of poets and artists and Auxilio’s inner trek through memory and even through the to be lived future paints a vivid portrait of the members of this artistic wave Surrealism has a better hold on Amulet than its companion novel The Savage Detective is epic and wide spanning many voices are given chance to chronicle that bright but doomed time but Amulet centers around Auxilio Laucouture In Amulet you hear the narrative of a ghost The heroine mother to all Mexican poets part Rapunzel part deranged pariah think of the woman from The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman atop her terrible tower experiences a time warp and vacillates in examining scenes from her past and her future Experiences she is yet to have are seen in true metaphysical oracle style Her distance from all action occurring in the university and the city gives her the advantage to reach true inner contemplation to such a degree no doubt hunger being a driving force that she admits “I started thinking about my past as if I was thinking about my present future and past all mixed together and dormant in the one tepid egg the enormous egg of some inner bird an archaeopteryx? nestled on a bed of smoking rubble” The character is an obvious spectator here is the connection to many other novels that deal with consciousness Again in doing nothing “Stay here Auxilio you don’t have to be in that movie; if they want to make you play a role they can damn well come find you” she becomes the perfect candidate to give a form to the narrative though like mentioned before this “horror story” breaks from its set parameters We are hearing the story directly from Auxilio herself There is enough evidence of a mumbling sad imperfect human directing all of this it is because the magic for instance the surreal scene inside the antechamber of the King of the Rent Boys in Colonia Guerrero or the two visionaries Auxilio and Carlos Coffeen Serpas coming face to face is filtered through a poetic voice that the effects go unuestioned Being in the “nun’s cell Auxilio never had” makes times scenes and emotions transitory they bleed into each other Whereas The Savage Detectives follows a clear you can almost say predestined path Amulet promises things which are then delivered albeit in ambiguous ways I was expecting for instance a cinematic rescue from the bathroom stalls A closure to the historic events of the army’s invasion of el DF in 1968 Instead the “Mother of Mexican Poetry” gives us her prophecies which describes a fun flight of poetic fancy but also includes her harrowing apocalyptic vision of “the prettiest children of Latin America the ill fed and the well fed children those who had everything and those who had nothing such a beautiful song it is issuing from their lips and how beautiful they were such beauty although they were marching deathward

  5. Lynne King Lynne King says:

    “I am in the women’s bathroom in the faculty building and I can see the future I said in a soprano voice as if I were being coyI know that said the dreamy voice I know that You start making your prophecies and I’ll note them down”I found this book very difficult to come to terms with at times which is based around the year 1968 in Mexico City be it the future the past or the present which are all thrown in for good measure to confuse a poor literary individual such as myselfThe narrator Auxilio Lacouture a Uruguayan woman is a poet and a very unusual woman who moved to Latin American’s biggest city Mexico City in the 1960s She “turned up at the apartments of Léon Felipe and Petro Garfias” where she offered to clean their apartments by dusting their books and sweeping their floors etc” This is a very unusual slightly masculine woman with “blue eyes blond hair going gray cut in a bob long thin face lined forehead” who can examine objects over and over again such as the vase and books mentioned in one of the apartments she is taking care of at the beginning of the bookJust to add character to her face her four front teeth are missing She couldn’t afford to have these replaced at the time and then lost the inclination to do so And yet obviously this did bother her because whenever she laughed she always covered her face with one of her hands Did people know she had four teeth missing? Well if they did they were not letting on She also reminded me of being a kind of literary groupie as she loved to follow the poets in the bars and cafés of the university and also to enjoy the night life where she was known as the “Mother of Mexican Poetry”Apart from these poets Auxilio intrigued me with the three women she became friendly with There is the young philosopher Elena who was in love with an Italian Paolo who was purely in Mexico so that he could obtain a visa to go and interview Castro in Cuba; the exiled Catalan painter Remedios Varo and Lilian Serpas a poet who once slept with Che Guevara with an unusual son called Coffeen who intrigued Auxilio with his tales on Erigone and OrestesThe Faculty of Philosophy and Literature in the Mexican National Autonomous University where Auxilio worked at the time shows an individual a survivor constantly on the move staying with people losing her possessions such as her books and clothes; with uncertain working habits but who was also living with this incredible imagination I thought it was amazing that she could survive a week without spending a peso Perhaps I’m living in the wrong country because money melts hereAuxilio knew that something horrific was going to happen during the course of 1968 She made prophecies She was in the women’s bathroom of the faculty building on the fourth floor she thinks she wasn’t sure Her memories and thoughts are vague as to when they actually happened She had a propensity for reading in bathrooms I always thought that was a male trait as women tend to dash in and outWhen this horrific act happened “she saw it all and yet she didn’t see a thing”; “she heard “a noise in her soul” She stayed in the “stall” and didn’t come out until everyone had left The famous date was 18 September when the university was taken over by the army who arrested and killed students indiscriminately Many people though were killed in the Tlatelolco massacre on 2 October 1968 in the” Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City The violence occurred ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics celebrations in Mexico City”I couldn’t really handle the first couple of chapters at all but then I discovered the mantra of the bathroom shown above and I managed to settle to a certain extent in the unusual rhythm of this novellaAmongst Auxilio’s odd prophecies were“For Marcel Proust a desperate and prolonged period of oblivion shall begin in the year 2033 Ezra Pound shall disappear from certain libraries in the year 2089César Vallejo shall be read underground in the year 2045 Jorge Luis Borges shall be read underground in under underground in the year 2045”Why would Bolaño want to repeat the last two sentences with the same year? For what purpose? The years that were given? Were these purely fiction or is there some significance here that I’m unaware of?And as for the statement “Virginia Woolf shall be reincarnated as an Argentinean fiction writer in the year 2076”? Remarkable how she has come into the euationThis is an extraordinary book with a writing style that I have never encountered before It was purely a monologue and it did tend to ramble and repeat itself at times Did I like it? Well really I’m not too sureYet again I was seduced by the title and by an unknown author to me anyway but who receives amazing reviews So going into “sheep mode” I acuired this “taster” of a book I could even see the parallels in this book with the May 1968 events in France which was a volatile period of civil unrest general strikes and the occupation of factories and universities across the country These lasted a far longer period and have had serious repercussions on both the French mentality and society and also upon their economy that is still felt up to the present day For you see they continue to remember that the worm can still turnThere’s a dreamlike uality about this writing which I found confusing at times especially Auxilio’s “mental” visits I guess into the mountains when everything becomes very strange and completely beyond me Characters pass confusedly throughout the book like ghosts Parts are brilliant with spell binding prose others are brilliantly depressing some are magical and yet there are also some very boring long winded sections that were extraneous but all in all how does one rate this work? I don’t know in all honesty and so I’ll go middle of the road until I can read another book by the author to be able to compare my own confused thoughts Which book to follow up with? Now that’s the ongoing dilemmaAnd finally with the idealistic young Latin Americans who came to maturity in the 1970s I could understand the meaning of the title with the last words of the novel when I read “And that song is our amulet”And what is that you may wonder? Well you’ll have to read the book

  6. Greg Greg says:

    I want to give this book five stars but since I didn't give Savage Detectives or 2666 five stars I feel it's only fitting to give this four stars A lot of people gush about Bolano so much that it's enough to turn off other people from him That said there are uite a few people who really dislike Bolano mostly because hipster's and others were all over him but were they really? It seems to me like Bolano mania is over and now it's safe to come out and read his work in peace but I could be wrong Bolano is not as good as the hype surrounding him says he is but he's also so much better than his detractors say he is When I bought this book for 49 cents at the Salvation Army around the corner from my apartment I went from being elated at such a great find to annoyed when I got home and read what the book was about It is the story of the woman who for 13 days is trapped in the bathroom of a university while the army takes it over She is symbolic of withstanding the assault of the military on the university and all of that Her story is one of the many in Savage Detectives I was kind of annoyed that I thought I had just bought a book that would take her story and just make it longer maybe give details about sitting in the bathroom I was wrong to be annoyed What I take this book to be about the moment well 13 days she is trapped in this bathroom is expounded on but as a singularity that encompasses the past and future of her experience of moving from a mere spectator of history to meeting it head on Why Bolano chose this method of telling her story I'm not uite sure One would think it would be easier to say ok there was this lady in the middle of her life who was trapped in a bathroom here is what happened before and after; instead of presenting her life through a prism of memories of events that had and hadn't already happened But if that was the case then would be no way of incorporating her beautiful prophecies into the story Why I heart Bolano and why you should tooHe makes literature at least seem important Because he writes with such a love for literature and writes from a time and place where writing was still something important enough that people lived and died for it That even if in the long run maybe it didn't make an ounce of difference people on both sides of the political spectrum believed that it mattered enough that they would risk their lives to be writers and poets and on the other side of the spectrum people would expend energy to silence these writers and poets exile them and be fearful of what they might stir up It's not even necessarily political it's about living for capital L Literature because there is something about it that makes one feel the need to risk ones life for it or maybe not risk ones life but live ones life for it Maybe my enjoyment of this message is because it feels like a pat on the back for my small attempt to keep good books on shelves where people can get them instead of just destined to be pulped schlock that makes up most of the contemporary best seller lists I'm not doing any justice to my thoughts here with my shitty words Maybe I will try to edit this later with something enlightening but most likely not Instead I'll leave you with a link to a song by one of the greatest Canadian punk bands ever It kept running through my head as I read this or actually the last 30 seconds if you really want to know what was running through my head but don't want to listen to the whole song

  7. Barry Pierce Barry Pierce says:

    When I read the blurb of this novel I laughed This is so Bolaño I thought A woman recounts her colourful life in Mexico but she's telling us all this whilst hiding from members of a right wing army who have just invaded the university in which she works Is that Bolaño enough for you?This might be one of my favourite Bolaño novels The prose is near lucid but doesn't fall into any of the traps that Monsieur Pain did and is just short enough to keep your attention through any of the experimental pieces This is sort of like if A Moveable Feast fucked The Company She Keeps whilst both were on benzos and the aborted baby managed to dictate a book It's that good

  8. Diana Diana says:

    Amulet 19992006 – ★★★★★“those who can see into the past never pay But I could also see into the future and vision of that kind comes at a high price life sometimes or sanity” Roberto Bolaño 19992006 64 Last year I had a goal to read a certain number of books by Asian authors see my YARC and so this year I set myself a similar goal but this time I will travel to another part of the world and try to read as many books as possible by Latin American authors I will begin my Latin America Reading Challenge with a short book by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño 1952 – 2003 titled Amulet In this vivid “stream of consciousness” account our narrator is Auxilio Lacouture a woman from Uruguay and the “mother of Mexican poetry” She works part time at one university in Mexico City and at one point realises that her university National Autonomous University of Mexico is being surrounded by an army event that happened two months before the infamous Tlatelolco massacre of 1968 Auxilio finds herself alone and hiding in the lavatory of the university as the army rounds up the staff and students At that point she starts to recall her own past talking to us about her dedication to nurturing the artistic talent of others As time passes and her hunger and exhaustion increase her account becomes increasingly hectic and imaginative Amulet is an unusual novella with one unusual narrator at its heart which is also strangely compelling as it tries to tell us the truth of the situation in the country and the state of Latin America’s literary talent and tradition through an unconventional and slightly dreamlike voice One of the great things about Amulet is the voice of Auxilio Lacouture – it is fascinating to follow her train of thoughts because she seems interesting in all her eccentricities and instances of uiet rebellion Auxilio is a poetess who is passionate about poetry and her belief in young up and coming poets and writers is unwavering Even though she is clear about the great talent and admiration of her idols she is unsure about herself her purpose and her roots trying to re imagine herself “One day I arrived in Mexico without really knowing why or how or when” 19992006 2 says the narrator Auxilio did not achieve much of what society calls “success” ie a stable job and starting her own family and instead seems to wholeheartedly dedicate herself to poetry In this way she is an outsider to traditional Mexico and prefers to lead a bohemian lifestyle surrounded by her friends who are also poets or writers So when in Mexico she starts to clean the house of two Spanish poets – Pedro Garfias and León Felipe while maintaining her connection to one university at whatever cost to be close to literature and intellectualsWhen Auxilio hides in the lavatories of her university fearing that soldiers will come and discover her there there comes that moment in her life when she feels the most alive and aware of life’s fleetness Her inner reflections on her friends literature and on the life on streets take the turn of compulsion and necessity She needs to gather her thoughts and tell us all about it and she starts to tell the truth through her poetically charged prose and original worldview She is from Uruguay and does not fit into the traditional concept of a Mexican woman and yet she is a woman who finds herself in Mexico “nurturing” the country’s literary talent She is both a foreigner and at the very core of Mexican’s formation of its future talented generation – “the mother of Mexican poetry” At this point contradictions emerge – she is in time and beyond it She is in a place where history is made the siege of the Mexican university and yet she is beyond this event does not directly participate in it since she did not surrender to the forces hiding in the lavatory She is an observer commentator and participator all in one and her account is both enigmatic and clear at the same time as she then tells of a broken heart of her friend philosopher Elena of literary aspirations of her friend poet Arturo Belano caught in the war that should not have existed and of her part in the operation to rescue a boy from sexual slavery in the Mexican underworldThrough Auxilio’s poetically charged account we discern the true nature and sometimes horror of events happening in Mexico City Her friend Elena becomes the symbol of Mexico’s “broken heart”hopelessness and the life of her friend Arturo Belano symbolises Mexico’s lost opportunities in the world and its dismissiveness by everyone on the world stage It is as though the narrator wants to tell us the truth through certain objects characters and events and the result is the account which is erratic yes but always compelling as local power struggles in the story tell of power struggles on the whole continent and the conditions of one poet in Mexico City tells about the state of poetry and literature in the whole of Latin America Catalan painter Remedios Varo and Salvadoran poetess Lilian Serpas are also characters in the narrative which becomes increasingly whimsical and fantastical as Auxilio’s mind starts to play tricks on her under the strain of hunger hopelessness and exhaustion she feels hiding in the lavatory Mentioning writers Roberto Arlt Anton Chekhov and Carson McCullers as well as the famous plane crash in the Andes Auxilio makes predictions and muses on all the lives she did not live and on all the people she admires but will never become There are a couple of thrilling moments of suspense in the story as we the readers start to uestion whether far from regarding Auxilio as some madwoman we should not be thinking about her as a person who sees into everything deeply and is keenly aware of the true nature of the situation than anyone else aroundAmulet will not be for everyone It is a rather eccentric short book which is torn between clarity and incomprehensiveness wisdom and irrationality direct insights and almost irrelevant observations However at its heart there is still one distinctive and compelling voice that tries to convey one horrific chapter in the Mexican history the state of the society as well as pay tribute to Latin America’s literary ambition and tradition in the only way it thinks it can

  9. Edward Edward says:

    This is going to be a horror story A story of murder detection and horror But it won't appear to be for the simple reason that I am the teller Told by me it won't seem like that Although in fact it's the story of a terrible crime I do not know enough about Mexican history to really grasp the terrible crime that is the focus of this story or its implications on the Mexican memory though I have read a little since finishing the book Amulet is an attempt to come to terms with this crime the Tlatelolco massacre which resulted in hundreds of students being killed at the hands of military and police Thematically the novel feels very close to Slaughterhouse 5 and even employs time as a device in a similar way Though her power to do so is perhaps poetic than Billy Pilgrim's like him Auxilio Lacouture moves freely between past present and distant future as a means of rationalising and contextualising the traumatic event within the context of the greater arc of history Lacouture is the embodiment of the artistic sensibility she is powerful captivating and yet she is damaged She is the ideal witness to this literary search for meaning At a high point near the end of the novel she reveals a prophecy which at once epitomises both the transience of art and its enduring nature There is a bittersweet kind of hope expressed in these passages which are the culmination of the novel the acceptance of the inevitability of decay alongside a solemn prayer for renewal and redemptionA love of poetry and literature permeates this a beautifully crafted little novel This was my first Bolaño I feel that I will be in safe hands when I undertake to read 2666 next year

  10. Tanuj Solanki Tanuj Solanki says:

    The Desire of the HystericAnd although the song that I heard was about war about the heroic deeds of a whole generation of young Latin Americans led to sacrifice I knew that above and beyond all it was about courage and mirrors desire and pleasureThese are lines from the last page of Bolano's novel containing in them one of the many keys for reading this masterpiece a masterpiece that hovers between confusion terror and poetryEli Evans in Bookslut rightly argues that Latin America or Latin Americans as portrayed by Bolano are not to be taken as 'real' SheHe goes on to say uite courageously that Bolano's Latin America is as much an imagination of Latin America as Arturo Belano the alter ego of the writer who is a character in the novel is of the author Such imaginary substitution leads to a gap and perhaps this gap is Bolano's intention I agree with herhimIt is the last part of the excerpt above though where 'desire' is mentioned that my interest accumulates I believe that to consider an interpretation that raises the uestion of what Bolano wants to say about Latin America is relevant but not the moot point My point of deviation is the fact that in none of the reviews I've read online has the uestion of a psychoanalytic reading of 'Amulet' been raisedThe novel is Auxilio Lacouture's monologue from a toilet inside the Department of Philosophy and Literature in the National Autonomous University of Mexico City UNAM The time is September 1968 Soldiers have taken over the University and are making student arrests Terrorized by what is happening outside Auxilio chooses to stay inside the toilet She has a book of poems by the Spanish exile Pedro GarfiasReaders of 'The Savage Detectives' will remember Auxilio as a minor character in that novelHer entrapment or rather her fixation to this toilet for twelve days is the fulcrum of the novel In her stall she gives birth to Mexican poetry And from her stall she ventures both back and forth in time and sees how Mexican poetry came to be and what is to become of itAuxilio calls herself at various times the mother of Mexican poetry the mother of all Mexican poets the mother et cetera This I claim is than anything else the most blatant among many blatant and subtle others invitation for a psychoanalytic reading of the textOne has to begin from the beginningAuxilio is from Montevideo Uruguay Whether there is a hidden meaning in the fact that the mother of Mexican poetry is from the continent down South is something that may interest Eli Evans but does not interest me It does not bother Auxilio either who although giving some thought to the fact that the young poet Arturo Belano is actually from Chile and that that means that he is not Mexican and that she is not his mother if one sticks to the axiom of her being the mother of all Mexican poets this notion is dispelled uickly and if at all there is a tending to explicit mother son relationship in the novel it is that between Uruguayan Auxilio and Chilean Arturo What was there of Mexico in it then except Mexico City? you may ask Exactly Isn't that a joke that should make us desist from Mexico centric readings of the novel?Auxilio is from Montevideo and comes to Mexico City for no clear reason at all except that it is hinted that her drive to Mexico city was perhaps made by her past a past having something to do with her father But should we then delve into her subjectivity? No she doesn't want that The novel is not about what Auxilio is in herself but rather about what Auxilio can reveal howsoever obliuely about poetry and poets in general Which is true for all Bolano narrators isn't it? Bolano's first person narrators are engaged with the true subject poetry but can never approach it in a manner that truly satisfies the reader And it in this 'not really talking of what is to be talked of' that Bolano hints that our pleasure lies in wanting what we want than in getting itAuxilio comes to Mexico City and spends time as a domestic help in a house where Pedro Garfias and Leon Felipe two formerly avant garde poets in Spanish stay You see she immediately goes into the service of poetry Here a digression about the translation is apt Chris Andrews is a great translator but because of a very small error he fails to deliver the same artistic force that Bolano indeed delivered in Spanish The error is not telling us that the word 'Auxilio' means 'help' in the beginning of the novel If the argument is that such things are difficult for a translator who does not want to write a 'translator's note' to a given work it doesn't work here Andrews had a chance right in the beginning all it needed was a footnote Notice the Spanish and English version of the uotation from Petronius that begins the novelueríamos pobres de nosotros pedir auxilio; pero no había nadie para venir en nuestra ayuda PETRONIOIn our misery we wanted to scream for help but there was no one there to come to our aid PetroniusHere Chris could have added a footnote and told us That would have allowed the common reader to clearly see some affirmation of the theme in Auxilio's becoming a 'help' in the poets' houseAnyhowA vase in the poet's house often attracts Pedro Garfias's melancholic gaze Auxilio is mystified by this vase and happens to gape at its mouth at the dark abyss inside She is attracted by the infinity and comes close to kissing the mouth of the vase There is a violent impulse too to break it due partly to the fact that it makes Pedro Garfias sad This near action reminded me of another similar one in 'The Sound of the Mountain' by Yasunari Kawabata where Shingo the old protagonist comes close to kissing a Japanese Ngo hermaphrodite drama mask touched by his daughter in law Kikuko whom he is in love withBut the vase business here is longer than in Kawabata also partly because of excessive subtlety that the Japanese giant endowed his creations with Bolano's vase is symbolism yes just like Kawabata's maskAuxilio reaction is one of terror at seeing a bottomless object in a house of poetsThen I thought Does Pedrito Garfias know what's hidden in his vase? Do poets have any idea what lurks in the bottomless maws of their vases? And if they know why don't they take it upon themselves to destroy them?The kiss of the vase did not happen but the vase does transfer some its abyss to Auxilio She loses four frontal teeth and this is her reactionI didn't care that I had lost the four most important teeth in a woman's mouth and yet in another sense their loss had left a deep wound in my being a burning wound that was necessary and unnecessary absurd Now is time to make claims The bottomless vase is a symbol for the unknowable depth of our desire and when applied to the desires of poets it is the very unknowability of poetry's desire In its transference from Pedro Garfias's vase to Auxilio's mouth this unknowability prepares Auxilio for the birth of Mexican poetry Although Auxilio loses her teeth after September 1968 which is when she gave birth to MExican poetry it is not difficult to see that chronology in this novel has nothing to do with causation After she has become the mother of Mexican poetry her task is to prevent the poets from gaping into that very infinite maw and so whenever she talks to poets in the various meeting places described she puts a hand to her mouth But this gesture of saving the poets from a dark infinity is futile A poets knows this terrorizing unknowability a poet knows that he does not know what he wants which is precisely why a poet is a hysteric; and poetry is in fact the response that the wall of language provides when the hysteric bangs his head on it asking What do I want? What do I want?What is the desire of the hysteric? A child wails when he does not have language and does not know what he wants wanting only an affirmation of his desire in the mother A poet a hysteric like a child has the same problem even though he possesses language A poet does not know what he wants and he is made hysterical by the very fact that he is condemned to approach this unknowable center of his desires hidden behind the wall of language and all that comes out is poetry A poet too wants an affirmation of his desires in the mother This is why Mexican poetry needs a mother a help beyond helps an auxilio beyond auxilio and this is what Auxilio Lacouture provides In a psychoanalytic reading like above one which Bolano seems to want to throughout the novel there is a Greek mythology story somewhere whose exact relevance is problematic but which serves very well as a hint for psychoanalytic reading one understands his true position and the beauty of his art Auxilio Lacouture is the mother of Mexican poetry but only inside the novel In real so such mother could have existed The hysteric would have found no affirmation of desire It is important to note that Infra realism Bolano's own poetic movement is what came after 1968 and it remained a directionless howl and nothing else Bolano fails to say what visceral realism his name for real infrarealism is about precisely because he acknowledges that he his band of poets were hysterics they did not know what to do or what direction to take Bolano rues what was not In whining that Dario and Huidobro never met in the manner of Ezra Pound and Yeats and so what could happened to Mexican poetry avant garde did not happen it is Bolano who in Auxilio's voice is telling us the followingThe truth is that our history is full of encounters that never occurred We didn't have our Pound or our Yeats; we had Huidobro and Darío instead We had what we hadOf course such a realization comes with its usual sense of tragedy the tragedy of youth and the tragedy of literature's inevitable march to obscurity and the powerlessness of poetryAuxilio leave those papers alone woman dust and literature have always gone together And I would look at them and think How right they are dust and literature from the beginning and since at the time I was avid for detail I conjured up wonderful and melancholy scenes I imagined books sitting uietly on shelves and the dust of the world creeping into libraries slowly persistently unstoppably and then I came to understand that books are easy prey for dustThese have been themes in all of Bolano's literature But Bolano is almost depressingly hopeful for the future regarding the power of poetryMetempsychosis Poetry shall not disappear Its non power shall manifest itself in a different formThat the unknowable is unavoidable for the poet is displayed by the dream seuence that ends the novel The mother Auxilio watches as a file of children walk into an abyss an abyss that is the vortex of poetry's unknowable desires to the site where a psychosis and even a metempsychosis is possible

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