A rock en Español band who have returned after a brief hiatus, Aterciopelados have changed a bit since their early more punk days. Their last album Rio came out in 2008, I knew them back in the mid nineties. This brief set (7 songs) at Bumbershoot showcases their more mellow tracks (there’s pan pipes) on “El Estuche.” The Colombian band has always been political, but it seems like they are much more explicit about it on this record. As singer Andrea Echeverri introduces a number of song, she talks about how they are “important” and are meant to bring attention to the troubles of Colombia.
“Ataque de Risa” has a wonderfully catchy melody (and I believe she says her daughter is singing with them on it). The song “Bandera” (which means “Flag”) is pointedly directed at Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. She introduces it as saying that all peoples are together under a rainbow flag. It’s a more angry sound for Echeverri’s voice, but she does a great job. Her voice is really impressive. “Rompe Cabezas” has a rollicking chorus that’s a lot of fun and “Bolero Falaz” ends the set with a very cool and catchy song.
Here’s a video of El Estcuhe
[READ: December 2, 2012] Woes of the True Policeman
This is yet another unfinished novel from Roberto Bolaño. Bolaño knew that he was dying and he created a lot of work in anticipation of his legacy. The afterword of the novel says that they found all of the various parts of this novel in various locations among his work–hand written and computer drafted. And they all mention this titles, so they are pretty certain about the order and that it is as finished as it could be.
Unlike some of his other posthumous releases, this one must be deemed pretty significant since it was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux instead of New Directions (publisher of most of Roberto Bolaño’s other smaller works).
And really what it reads like is a kind of prelude to 2666. For this is the same Amalfitano as in 2666. But it is his story from before he moves to Sonora, Mexico–before all of the murders started. Indeed, there are parts of 2666 which make Amalfitano’s past seem like it is unknown but this story fills in the gaps quite well. One of the details in 2666 is that Amalfitano’s teaching contract had expired at the University of Barcelona, although this book gives the behind the scenes reason why it expired.
Bolaño has many many stories in which he explores the past of a character from a different story. Typically, it is a novella in which a minor character from a bigger novel gets his or her own story told. And that seems to be the case with this as well.
The story is set up in five sections (just like 2666). Section I of this story (part of which was as excerpted in Harper’s recently) is called The Fall of the Berlin Wall and tells how Amalfitano, a professor, fell for a young poet named Padilla. He wound up having an affair with him, which ended his career (I’m unclear whether it is because he is a student or because the affair was homosexual that the University wanted him out). Amalfitano had never had homosexual desires before, and he was a proud husband and father, but he found that Padilla really affected him.
And so Amalfitano and Rosa, his daughter, moved to Sonora and the only school that would have him.
Section II is all about Amalfitano at school and the various friends he makes. There’s an art subtext and the story of the man who forges Larry Rivers paintings. During this time he and Padilla are corresponding (although Padilla writes responses long before he could have read Amalfitano’s letters). He tells Amalfitano about his proposed book The God of Homosexuals, and how he really hopes to finish it soon.
Section III is called Rosa Amlfotano and is more or less about her. The confusing thing about this in comparison to 2666 is that it sounds like Rosa’s mother was Edith Lieberman who died, when in 2666 her mother is someone else entirely who was put in an asylum.
Section IV is called J.M.G. Arcimboldi. In 2666, Arcimboldi (who is Archimboldi) is the central figure holding the story together. In this book we learn that Amalfitano translated Arcimboldi’s first book. It was largely ignored, but since then, Arcimboldi has gone on to greater acclaim. This section looks at most of his books under sections titled things like Two novels read in five days. We also get a complete bibliography of Arcimboldi,which I remember trying to puzzle together while reading 2666. We also learn a bit more about Arcimboldi than was revealed in 2666.
Section V is Killers of Sonora. We meet Pancho Expósito and Don Pedro (who was in 2666). There’s also the by now oft-repeated heritage in Bolaño of a of the girl who was raped and gave birth to a daughter who was raped and gave birth to a daughter who was raped… until in this case Rafael Pancho Expósito was born (A similar story was told about Lalo Curo). The confusing thing about this section is that the story of Don Pedro and Pancho ends and it picks up with more of the correspondence between Padillo and Amalfitano. We learn that Padilla has contracted AIDS and has moved in with a woman, and has every intention of finishing (or perhaps starting his novel, although we know he never will.
This novel is clearly unfinished. There are lots of questions left, including why it is called what it is when Amalfitano is not a policeman. It’s hard to imagine how much more Bolaño would have added to the story. His books range from very short to incredibly long. But despite the unfinished nature of the book, I really enjoyed it. And, as I have come to expect, the translation by Natasha Wimmer is excellent. I loved having all of these details supplied after reading 2666. I’m not sure if it would work as well as a prequel to 2666, although it is certainly an easier place to start to get into th world of Amalfitano and Arcimboldi.
For ease of searching I include: Roberto Bolano, Espanol, Pancho Exposito