The best Nazis and fascists you’ve never read or heard of

Roberto BolanoTranslated by Chris Andrews(New Directions)4 Stars”Nazi Literature in the Americas” is the newest novel to be published in English translation by the Chilean author Roberto Bolano, whose magnum opus, “The Savage Detectives” was released in April of last year to great critical acclaim which I reviewed in this paper. “Nazi Literature in the Americas,” is an odd, fascinating novel, told in Wikipedia-sized chapters devoted to a brief overview of the lives of poets, artists and novelists be?fore and after World War II who subscribed to the Aryan, Nazi, and fascist causes of the 21st century; in short, the subscribers to all those ideological and political movements that lost the second world war. At first, the book reads like nonfiction, a categorical approach to documenting the lives of the writers and it slowly descends into brutal satires of their work. One chapter, devoted to the character Igancio Zubieta, who appears briefly in the middle of the novel, in a section entitled “Itinerant Heroes or The Fragility of Mirrors,” tells the story of the only Columbian to have been awarded the Iron Cross by the Third Reich for valor on the battlefields of Eu?rope, fighting against the allies for the Nazi cause. Bolano tells us that he is the author of several poems including “Cross of Veils,” “Cross of Flowers,” “Cross of Iron” and “Cross of Ruins.” In a chapter entitled, “Speculative and Science Fiction” Bolano tells the story of JMS Hill, an American writer and Nazi sympathizer whose novel concern a “distorted present where nothing is as it seems, or a distant future full of abandoned ruined cities.” Hill, who Bolano probably based on the real American horror and science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, the Rhode Island-born fascist and Anglophile, writes little known novels about Nazi cavalry troops in the Mid-West after the fall of America. And the list of writers goes on and on, with titles and descriptions of their work, dates of publication and laborious cross-referencing. The last chapter of the novel, entitled “Epilogue for Monsters” is a twenty-page list of “Secondary Figures” and “Books” by the various writers described throughout the novel. It chronicles the magazines of the Aryan Brotherhood started in prison’s across the US and recounts in vivid detail the lives of two brothers, who write with an extensive, fanatical touch about soccer in Argentina. Purportedly, Bolano used to write for forty-eight hours at a time before collapsing. In his writing, one can glimpse the tortured soul of a writer who was one of the only ones spared in his artistic generation in the southern cone, the rest killed by Pinochet, or the military dictatorship in Argentina. There are recurring characters in his novels, including versions of himself and versions of people who were once undoubtedly his friends. In his haunting vision, one can imagine the trials of a writer trying to earn his own survial and make something of his life and the lives of his friends. “Nazi Literature in the Americas” is distinctly the invention of someone to blame for the crimes Bolano saw perpetrated in his youth and a searing indictment of their political and artistic endeavors and a coming to grips with his own, inexplicable horror.