When Writers Write For Themselves

Antwerp is a funny little book. It's comprised of 54 sections and is hardly eighty pages in length. I say “sections” because chapters suggest something complete, a beginning and an end, an unfolding of events. Sections, however, are more open-ended, neutral; they merely act as distinguishing marks, and say nothing of the content. The section names are oblique and provide the reader with very little by way of direction. In some cases, they feel like an afterthought, as if chosen after the section was written, like when editors name untitled poems by their opening line. Bolaño uses prosaic names like “The Sheet,” “The Redhead,” “Twenty-seven,” and oddly ominous names like “Footsteps on the Stairs.” In fact, they appear so random, it may be that they’re entirely conscious; that Bolaño sought first an image, an impression, a concept, and decided to explore it thoroughly through prose. Antwerp is the length of a novella, but only loosely attempts at narrative story-telling; more so, it feels like a shattered mirror, the reader having to rummage through the pieces and recognize where the angles connect.

It is exactly the kind of literature I divine to find. Where the writer has chosen not to appeal to a reader, a market, but to an impulse which makes sense of life through writing; an inspection, so to speak, of feelings, signals, and moments. Bolaño seems to be thinking through these ideas as he writes, thereby forgoing the need to set a scene or play by the rules of narrative story-telling. Instead what we read is a compressed sprawl of the Bolaño universe, which explodes and contracts, spirals and fades, touching nonetheless on themes that consume him: crime, corruption, the seedy side of street life, drugs, sex, and rebellion. Calling Antwerp a novella is inaccurate; it’s more so a prose-poem.

Read More

Hack Into This Controversial Book

I read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow while on vacation at Disney World last month. I hadn’t visited in nine years, and things have changed quite a bit. Boy oh boy, was I shocked to realize that to enter the park using a “MagicBand,” Disney also requires your fingerprint at…

Read More

#TheDisasterArtist and Other Mistakes I’ve Made on Instagram

For many, college is a time of radical personal reinvention and social experimentation. Having attended a miniscule religious university in Southern California, however, the extent of my collegiate rebellion was sadly not dissimilar from what most have experienced by sophomore year of high school; exclusive, clique-driven social gatherings that involved…

Read More

Book That Changed My Life

Your Shelf

We've made it easy to create your own reading list from books you find on this site. Just click "|+| Add to Your Shelf" and we'll save them for you. If you're like us, those shelves will fill up fast!

Login or register to get started.

So many books, so little time.

-Frank Zappa