Roberto Bolaño

Manipulations of documentary accounts


Fascinating interview with Iain Sinclair in the Guardian.

James Campbell: Some of the characters in your new book are fictional creations, based on real people. Yet long sections deal with meetings with Gary Snyder and people relevant to the story lines involving Bolaño and Lowry, which are important themes in the book. One of your subtitles is “Fictions of memory”. How is the reader to tell the difference between the fictions and the facts?

Iain Sinclair: Well, a fiction of memory is when I’m describing the more remote past. This becomes more like writing fiction. The process of dealing with something at that distance inevitably creates a smoothed-out narrative, often through the retellings that have occurred over the years. Things get arranged in certain ways to make a nice shape. The awkward details are forgotten or suppressed. And when you are confronted with them – as I was in the process of writing Hackney: That Rose-Red Empire – you often find that what you have remembered is completely wrong. When you go back to it, it’s this peculiar country. But when I’m describing Snyder or Gregory Corso, that’s fairly recent, and I’ve kept to what happened.

Three Novels, César Aira

By Rob Doyle.

The Argentine César Aira, who has published a couple of dozen more volumes than his sixty-four years, acknowledges that he writes not for the casual, but for the boutique reader. Churning out up to four novellas a year (the mid-length form is where he has always felt most comfortable), Aira is published by a host of small, independent publishers in Buenos Aires, the city where he has lived since 1967.