Last Evenings on Earth

“Last Evenings on Earth” by Roberto Bolano (Chile)

Review

The first book of the new season was a difficult one for most readers, who used words such as depressing, melancholic, bitty and unusual to express their first impressions of it. They described the style of writing as distinctive, but flat and devoid of emotion. As a result, they found it extremely hard to warm to any of the characters who on the whole they considered unappealing. The author’s use of B or U as character names in some of the stories only added to the impersonal and detached feeling permeating the collection. Most readers also found the abrupt endings unsatisfactory. The two exceptions were the stories “The Grub” and “Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva,” where readers found themselves moved by the respective protagonists. Overall, readers were left with a clear image of the life of an exile who wanders aimlessly like a lost soul trying to connect. This sense of disconnection was strongly felt throughout the collection.

The book averaged a 5.7 out of 10, with some individual stories scoring slightly higher: “Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva” – 7/10, “The Grub” – 6.75/10 and “Dentist” – 6.2/10

Synopsis

Set largely in the world of the Chilean diaspora in Central America and Europe, the narrators of these stories are usually writers grappling with private quests (Bolaño’s beloved ‘failed generation’), who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. They are characters living in the margins, on the edge, in constant flight from nightmarish threats… Read more 

Season 11 – “Short Stories” (Feb – Jun 2010)

“Last Evenings on Earth” by Roberto Bolano (Chile)
“I Think of You” by Ahdaf Soueif (Egypt)
“Fascination” by William Boyd (U.K.)
“Runaway” by Alice Munro (Canada)
“Sightseeing” by Rattawut Lapcharoensap (Thailand) *

Extra book:
“An Elegy for Easterly” by Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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