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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry


Roberto Bolaño

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To purchase Tres

Title: Tres
Author: Roberto Bolaño
Genre: Poetry
Written: 2000 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 173 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Tres - US
Tres - UK
Tres - Canada
Tres - India
Tre - Italia
Tres - España
  • Spanish title: Tres
  • Translated by Laura Healy
  • This is a bilingual edition

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Our Assessment:

B+ : varied, appealing collection

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Harvard Crimson . 1/11/2011 Andrew R. Chow
The NY Rev. of Books . 13/10/2011 Mark Ford
World Lit. Today . 1-2/2012 Andrew Martino

  From the Reviews:
  • "Translated by Laura Healy, this new collection captures the dreamy quality of Bolaño’s writing style while offering insight into the fraught mental states of a brilliant writer on the cusp of a breakthrough. (...) Tres offers three different lenses into the kaleidoscope that was his confusing, teeming mind." - Andrew R. Chow, The Harvard Crimson

  • "(A)nother Bolaño masterpiece. (...) Healy's translation of Bolaño is remarkable and beautiful, leaving nothing out, yet adding a softness that often goes unappreciated in translated works. (...) Bolaño's talent resides in his ability to transport the reader to the precipice of so many things, not the least of which is a euphoric whirlwind of delight. Tres is a beautiful book that transports the reader in many strange and wonderful ways." - Andrew Martino, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Tres consists of three very different longer poetic works.
       'Prose from Autumn in Gerona' (1981) is a cycle of prose-poems, a kaleidoscope (a recurring image in the text) of scenes in which the author appears in the first person but also writes at a distance of his protagonist. From: "The pristine moment that is R.B.'s passport in October 1981, which says a Chilean with permission to live in Spain, without working, for three more months" to his acknowledgement: "Sure, I was in paradise, as an observer or a castaway -- there where paradise had the form of a labyrinth -- but never as a performer", Bolaño writes of a time of uncertainty -- in love, in life -- and effectively conveys that in the presentation of the poem.
       'The Neochileans' (1993) -- which 'looks' much more like a poem, written in verse and not the blocks of prose of 'Prose from Autumn in Gerona' -- describes a road trip by a band, the Neochileans, in a van. Describing young musicians' ("none of the Neochileans/Was over 22") experiences as they are exposed to new worlds (and rather overwhelmed by them), it's a more conventional poetic piece, where:

Our open mouth
Where bread
Goes in
And dreams
Come out: vapor trails
Colored with the palette
Of the apocalypse.
       The playful 'A Stroll through Literature' (1994) is a numbered sequence of fifty-seven pieces, again in prose, the vast majority of which begin: "I dreamt" and often refer to literary figures -- Kafka, Stendhal, Gabriela Mistral, Archibald MacLeish, Manuel Puig, Macedonio Fernández, etc.
       So, for example, the first one reads:
1. I dreamt that Georges Perec was three years old and visiting my house. I was hugging him, kissing him, saying what a sweet boy he was.
       It's charming stuff -- a pleasant stroll -- with quite a few quite striking pieces, such as:
17. I dreamt I was an old, sick detective and I was looking for people lost long ago. Sometimes I'd look at myself casually in a mirror and recognize Roberto Bolaño.
       Offering three different perspectives on Bolaño -- two more personal, one his literary side (in which, for example, he sees himself as: "the last human being in the Southern Hemisphere who was reading the Goncourt brothers"), Tres is a fine, revealing collection, both humorous and poignant. And the bilingual presentation is, as always, very welcome.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 November 2011

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Tres: Reviews: Roberto Bolaño: Other books by Roberto Bolaño under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Chilean author Roberto Bolaño lived 1953 to 2003.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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