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Tuesday 2 December 2014

Robert Bolaño: Among the Horses


[untitled]: photo by ...storrao..., 17 March 2014

I dreamed of a woman with no mouth, says the man in bed.  I couldn’t help smiling.  The piston forces the images up again.  Look, he tells her, I know another story that’s just as sad.  He’s a writer who lives on the edge of town.  He makes a living working at a riding school.  He’s never asked for much, all he needs is a room and time to read.  But one day he meets a girl who lives in another city and he falls in love.  They decide to get married.  The girl will come to live with him.  The first problem arises: finding a place big enough for the two of them.  The second problem is where to get the money to pay for it.  Then one thing leads to another: a job with a steady income (at the stables he works on commission, plus room, board, and a small monthly stipend), getting his papers in order, registering with social security, etc.  But for now, he needs money to get to the city where his fianceé lives.  A friend suggests the possibility of writing articles for a magazine.  He calculates that the first four would pay for the bus trip there and back and maybe a few days at a cheap hotel.  He writes his girlfriend to tell her he’s coming.  But he can’t finish a single article.  He spends the evenings sitting outdoors at the bar of the riding school where he works, trying to write, but he can’t.  Nothing comes out, as they say in common parlance.  The man realizes that he’s finished.  All he writes are short crime stories.  The trip recedes from his future, is lost, and he remains listless, inert, going automatically about his work among the horses.

Robert Bolaño (1953-2002): Among the Horses, from Antwerp, 1980; first published in Spanish as Amberes, 2002; English translation by Natasha Wimmer, 2010

to all those distant places close to the heart: photo by ...storrao..., 16 February 2014


TC said...

Rainy night here brought to mind these pieces, along with this bit of melancholy beauty:

Caetano Veloso: Cucurrucucu Paloma

Be the BQE said...

Melancholy beauty is right on for Bolaño's novel-in-a-paragraph and the photographs. Especially the closing one. It has the feeling of being taken from a train, but one sitting on the tracks for too long.

TC said...

Thanks, David. Definitely a slow train night. That's Portugal, in the pictures, I believe.

manik sharma said...


It seems all the king's horses, whenever they retreat, they do to crime and its stories. Crime comes easier than most I suppose. A bright sunny day here, though.

It hasn't been for our friend though.
Aditya has suffered some unfortunate accidents at home. His dad was run-over by a maniac on the highway (he has survived with multiple fractures and recovering). That happened only a a couple of weeks after his mother had been operated on, for fractures in her leg.

TC said...


More rain tonight than last, here. Coming down in buckets. I fear the stables will be underwater. The ink may run on the crime stories.

Terribly sad for our sweet friend Aditya. All life is suffering, and then too there is the special unfairness of the dose apportionment, too many times.