Roberto Bolano Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 183 quotes)
Probably all of us, writers and readers alike, set out into exile, or at least into a certain kind of exile, when we leave childhood behind...The immigrant, the nomad, the traveler, the sleepwalker all exist, but not the exile, since every writer becomes an exile simply by venturing into literature, and every reader becomes an exile simply by opening a book.
In a word, and bluntly: as they walked around Sankt Pauli, it came to Pelletier and Espinoza that the search for Archimboldi could never fill their lives. They could read him, they could study him, they could pick him apart, but they could?t laugh or be sad with him, partly because Archimboldi was always far away, partly because the deeper they went into his work, the more it devoured its explorers. In a word: in Sankt Pauli and later at Mrs. Bubi?s house, hung with photographs of the late Mr. Bubis and his writers, Pelletier and Espinoza understood that what they wanted to make was love, not war.
He dreamed that he and Elvira Campos lived together in a cabin in the mountains. The cabin didn't have electricity or running water or anything to remind them of civilization. The slept on bearskin, with a wolf skin over them. And sometimes Elvira Campos laughed, a ringing laugh, as she went running into the woods and he lost sight of her.
He was an atheist and it had been years since he read a book, despite the fact that he had amassed a more than decent library of works in his specialty, as well as volumes of philosophy and Mexican history and a novel or two. Sometimes he thought it was precisely because he was an atheist that he didn't read anymore. Not reading, it might be said, was the highest expression of atheism or at least of atheism as he conceived of it. If you don't believe in God, how do you believe in a fucking book? he asked himself.
Permanence has been swept aside by the rapidity of empty images. The pantheon, we discover to our astonishment, is the doghouse of the burning asylum... We think our brain is a marble mausoleum, when in fact it's a house made of cardboard boxes, a shack stranded between an empty field and an endless dusk.
The diseased, anyway, are more interesting than the healthy. The words of the diseased, even those who can manage only a murmur, carry more weight than those of the healthy. Then, too, all healthy people will in the future know disease. That sense of time, ah, the diseased ma?s sense of time, what treasure hidden in a desert cave. Then, too the diseased truly bite, whereas the healthy pretend to bite but really only snap at the air. Then, too, then, too, then, too.
I went on happily reading well into the night, when no one ventured on to the decks of the Donizetti, except for sinful shadows who were careful not to interrupt me, careful not to disturb my reading, happiness, happiness, passion regained, genuine devotion, my prayers rising up and up through the clouds to the realm of pure music, to what for want of a better name we call the choir of the angels, a non-human space but undoubtedly the only imaginable space we humans can truly inhabit, an uninhabitable space but the only one worth inhabiting, a space in which we shall cease to be but the only space in which we can be what we truly are...
If it were possible to convey what one feels when night falls and the stars come out and one is alone in the vastness, and life's truths (night truths) begin to march past one by one, somehow swooning or as if the person out in the open were swooning or as if a strange sickness were circulating in the blood unnoticed. What are you doing, moon, up in the sky? asks the little shepherd in the poem. What are you doing, tell me, silent moon? Aren't you tired of plying the eternal byways? The shepherd's life is like your life.
He said that for those who hadn't been to California, what it was most like was an enchanted island. The spitting image. Just like in the movies, but better. People live in houses, not apartment buildings, he said, and then he embarked on a comparison of houses (one-story, at most two-story), and four- or five-story buildings where the elevator is broken one day and out of order the next. The only way buildings compared favorably to houses was in terms of proximity. A neighborhood of buildings makes distances shorter, he said. Everything is closer. You can go walking to buy groceries or you can walk to your local tavern (here he winked at Reverend Foster), or the local church you belong to, or a museum. In other words, you don't need to drive. You don't even need a car. And here he recited a list of statistics on fatal car accidents in a county of Detroit and a county of Los Angeles. And that's even considering that cars are made in Detroit, he said, not Los Angeles.
Still, American television is full of smiles and more and more perfect-looking teeth. Do these people want us to trust them? No. Do they want us to think they're good people? No again. The truth is they don't want anything from us. They just want to show us their teeth, their smiles, and admiration is all they want in return. Admiration. They want us to look at them, that's all. Their perfect teeth, their perfect bodies, their perfect manners, as if they were constantly breaking away from the sun and they were little pieces of fire, little pieces of blazing hell, here on this planet simply to be worshipped.
Of all the islands he'd visited, two stood out. The island of the past, he said, where the only time was past time and the inhabitants were bored and more or less happy, but where the weight of illusion was so great that the island sank a little deeper into the river every day. And the island of the future, where the only time was the future, and the inhabitants were planners and strivers, such strivers, said Ulises, that they were likely to end up devouring one another.
I’m seventeen years old, my name is Juan Garca Madero, and I’m in my first semester of law school. I wanted to study literature, not law, but my uncle insisted, and in the end I gave in. I’m an orphan, and someday I’ll be a lawyer. That’s what I told my aunt and uncle, and then I shut myself in my room and cried all night.
I'm an educated man: the prisons I know are subtle ones. And of course poetry and prison have always been neighbors. And yet it's melancholia that's the source of my attraction. Am I in the seventh dream or have I truly heard the cocks crow at the other end of the feria? It might be one thing or it might be another. But cocks crow at dawn, and it's noon now, according to my watch. I wander through the feria and greet my colleagues who are wandering as dreamily as I am. Dreamily dreamily = a prison in literary heaven. Wandering.
What is a look of absolute fear?" Popescu asked. The doctor belched a few times, shifted in his chair, and answered that it was a kind of look of mercy, but empty, as if all that were left of mercy, after a mysterious voyage, was the skin, as if mercy were a skin of water, say, in the hands of a Tatar horseman who gallops away over the steppe and dwindles untile he vanishes, and then the horseman returns, or the ghost of the horseman returns, or his shadow, or the idea of him, and he has the skin, empty of water now, because he drank it all during his trip, or he and his horse drank it, and the skin is empty now, it's a normal skin, an empty skin, because after all the abnormal thing is a skin swollen with water, but this skin swollen with water, this hideous skin swollen with water doesn't arouse fear, doesn't awaken it, much less isolate it, but the empty skin does, and that was what he saw in the mathematician's face, absolute fear.