Review of Cowboy Graves: Three Novellas by Roberto Bolaño

Bolaño releases another posthumous book from beyond the grave. More Bolaño is welcome in this day and age, but each time it happens I recall that 2666 was his crowning achievement.

How many more manuscripts did he leave in the desk drawers? This book, along with the Spirit of Science Fiction, and Woes of the True Policeman are satellites orbiting his deathbed opus. All entertaining, but not riveting.

In these novellas, Bolaño discusses poets and the lifestyles of poets. He has done this before, but I somehow don’t tire of it. Whether his mainstay character Arturo Bolano is just sitting around gabbing, drinking, or shoplifting books, it tends to make for nostalgic and bittersweet reading.

There is one really interesting science fiction idea inserted haphazardly. One of those patented Bolaño surprises. An alien invasion scenario. As in much of the author’s work, there is not a clear drive toward a moral or a particular interpretation. He writes seemingly at random, jumping around from subject to subject, but his style is addictive. It is not frilly, but rather gritty, if that makes sense. Old pals like Parra and Carrington show up again, along with Mistral and the other badasses he liked to namedrop.

Sink your teeth into this brief Bolaño sandwich of tales, even if it has fake meat, it is well-seasoned.

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