Barbara’s Picks: November 2012, Pt. 2: Roberto Bola√±o and David Foster Wallace

Bolaño, Roberto. Woes of the True Policeman. Farrar. Nov. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780374266745. $25. LITERARY FICTION
Herralde, Rómulo Gallegos, and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Bola√±o isn’t just a literary phenomenon, brought to the attention of U.S. readers after his untimely death in 2003. He’s a popular phenomenon as well, his mammoth 2666 having sold over 70,000 copies in hardcover, 36,000 in a boxed set, and 40,000 in paperback. So there will be interest in this final, unfinished novel, which Bola√±o began in the 1980s and worked on until his death. The novel stars Chilean professor Amalfitano, widowed and with a teenage daughter, who is forced to leave Barcelona by scandal and lands in Santa Teresa, Mexico, a border town plagued by the murder of many women. Here he meets folks like Spanish civil war veteran Sorcha and magician/writer Arcimboldi, whose works (like Bola√±o’s) reveal life’s earthquake-like instability. Keen Bola√±o readers will recognize key characters and plot points from 2666 and will be intrigued; expect lots of attention.

Wallace, David Foster. Both Flesh and Not: Essays. Little, Brown. Nov. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780316182379. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. ESSAYS
So the Pulitzer people didn’t think he deserved a prize. Wallace is still the great, original, uncompromised voice of the last few decades of American literature, at once brilliant and maddening. This collection of 15 essays never available in book format includes early work not easily accessed, along with classics like Federer Both Flesh and Not. After Infinite Jest, we’ll always think of Wallace as a key fiction writer, but his essays shine, and the collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again jointly count over 300,000 copies in print.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.