The famous Chilean, author of the incredible The Savage Detectives, 2666, Distant Star, Nazi Literature In The Americas, among many other significant works, Bolaño has said many thoughtful, witty, intelligent, funny things. Here are just 40 quotes from what could’ve been a thousand.
We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as we never stop living, although death is certain.
Literature is a vast forest and the masterpieces are the lakes, the towering trees or strange trees, the lovely eloquent flowers, the hidden caves, but a forest is also made up of ordinary trees, patches of grass, puddles, clinging vines, mushrooms and little wildflowers.
Every hundred feet the world changes.
Reading is pleasure and happiness to be alive or sadness to be alive and above all it’s knowledge and questions.
Books are finite, sexual encounters are finite, but the desire to read and to fuck is infinite; it surpasses our own deaths, our fears, our hopes for peace.
The truth is we never stop being children, terrible children covered in sores and knotty veins and tumors and age spots, but ultimately children, in other words we never stop clinging to life because we are life.
If you’re going to say what you want to say, you’re going to hear what you don’t want to hear.
Great physicists, great mathematicians, great chemists, and publishers knew that one was always feeling one’s way in the dark.
Nothing happened today. And if anything did, I’d rather not talk about it, because I didn’t understand it.
The secret story is the one we’ll never know, although we’re living it from day to day, thinking we’re alive, thinking we’ve got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn’t matter.
History, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.
When you know something, you know it, and when you don’t, you’d better learn. And in the meantime, you should keep quiet, or at least speak only when what you say will advance the learning process.
There is a time for reciting poems and a time for fists.
Only in chaos are we conceivable.
Nothing good ever comes of love. What comes of love is always something better.
There’s no place on earth with more dumb girls per square foot than a college in California.
We interpret life at moments of the deepest desperation.
Poetry and prison have always been neighbors.
I’m an educated man, the prisons I know are subtle ones.
You have to know how to look even if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
We play at believing ourselves immortal. We delude ourselves in the appraisal of our own works and in our perpetual misappraisal of the works of others. See you at the Nobel, writers say, as one might say: see you in hell.
As time goes by, as time goes by, the whip-crack of the years, the precipice of illusions, the ravine that swallows up all human endeavor except the struggle to survive.
In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we’re no more than castrated cats.
Reading is more important than writing.
I’ll tell you, my friends: it’s all in the nerves. The nerves that tense and relax as you approach the edges of companionship and love. The razor-sharp edges of companionship and love.
The diseased, anyway, are more interesting than the healthy. The words of the diseased, even those who can manage only a murmur, carry more weight than those of the healthy. Then, too, all healthy people will in the future know disease. That sense of time, ah, the diseased man’s sense of time, what treasure hidden in a desert cave. Then, too the diseased truly bite, whereas the healthy pretend to bite but really only snap at the air. Then, too, then, too, then, too.
The world is alive and no living thing has any remedy. That is our fortune.
Metaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming.
Being alone makes us stronger. That’s the honest truth. But it’s cold comfort, since even if I wanted company no one will come near me anymore.
[Castellanos Moya’s] sharp humor, not unlike a Buster Keaton film or a time bomb, threatens the fragile stability of imbeciles who, when they read, have an uncontrollable desire to hang the author in the town square. I can’t think of a higher honor for a writer.
We’re artists too, but we do a good job hiding it, don’t we?
…I realized my happiness was artificial. I felt happy because I saw the others were happy and because I knew I should feel happy, but I wasn’t really happy.
Every book in the world is out there waiting to be read by me.
One should read Borges more.
When I was done traveling, I returned convinced of one thing: we’re nothing.
You run risks. That’s the plain truth. You run risks and, even in the most unlikely places, you are subject to destiny’s whims.
I decided to tell the truth even if it meant being pointed at.
Life is mysterious as well as vulgar.
I am dying now, but I still have many things to say.
Exile is courage. True exile is the true measure of each writer.
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