The Skating Rink (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
A murder ought to imbue a novel with mystery. In Roberto Bolaño’s 1993 novel The Skating Rink, billed as a crime novel, the murder of a homeless woman seems to tease readers rather than to provide meaningful suspense. Bolaño is justly famous for innovative narrative methods that immerse readers in seedy, corrupt, desperate, absurd, violent, but vibrant struggles among characters who haunt the fringes of mainstream society or fall from its careless grace. In the case of The Skating Rink, however, the story is so sparely told, so focused, that it ends up seeming aimless, even querulous. Still, if the novel is less successful than Bolaño’s later novels, such as Los detectivos salvages (1998; The Savage Detectives, 2007) and 2666 (2004; English translation, 2008), it nonetheless demonstrates Bolaño’s talent for powerful characterization and portrays as few other novelists can the fragility of love and ambition, the hypocrisy of power, and the quixotic temperament of literature.
The story takes place in a seaside resort city, called simply Z, on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona, in Spain’s semiautonomous Catalan region. In an unvaryingly repeated sequence, the narrative alternates among three point-of-view charactersRemo Morán, Gaspar Heredia, and Enric Rosquelles. Each tells his side of the story in short chapters. There is both a tone of intimacy and evidence of evasion to their statements, which...
(The entire section is 1712 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 22 (August 1, 2009): 34.
Chronicle of Higher Education 55 (December 19, 2008): B20.
The New York Times, March 11, 2009, p. 2.
The New York Times Book Review, August 30, 2009, p. 8.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 2009, p. E2.
(The entire section is 29 words.)