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By Night in Chile

by Roberto Bolano

A Chilean priest lies dying and as he reflects upon the events which have shaped his life and the characters he has encountered, fantasy and reality become indistinguishable. The stream of consciousness style of writing makes a challenging and worthwhile read as the prose is beautifully poetic. Elements of the novel I found touching and at times wryly humorous.

Extract

I am dying now, but I still have many things to say. I used to be at peace with myself. Quiet and at peace. But it all blew up unexpectedly ... My name is Sebastian Urrutia Lacroix. I am Chilean. My ancestors on my father's side came from the Basque country, or Euskadi, as it is now called. On my mother's side I hail from the gentle land of France, from a village whose name means Man on Earth or perhaps Standing Man, my French is failing me as the end draws near ... At the age of thirteen I heard God's call and decided to enter a seminary. My father was opposed to the idea. He was not absolutely inflexible, but he was opposed to the idea. I can still remember his shadow slipping from room to room in our house, as if it were the shadow of a weasel or an eel. And I can remember, I don't know how, but the fact is that I do remember my smile in the midst of the darkness, the smile of the child I was.
Translated by Chris Andrews

Parallels

Ulysses by James Joyce
 

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