Monsieur Pain

Monsieur Pain

Book - 2010
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A Bolaño classic. The Peruvian poet César Vallejo is in the hospital, afflicted with an undiagnosed illness and unable to stop hiccuping. His wife calls on an acquaintance of her friend Madame Reynaud: the mesmerist Pierre Pain. Pain, a timid bachelor, is in love with the widow Reynaud and agrees to help. But two mysterious Spanish men follow him and bribe him not to treat Vallejo. Ravaged by guilt and anxiety, Pain does not intend to abandon his new patient, but his access to the hospital is barred and Madame Reynaud mysteriously leaves Paris. Another practitioner of the occult sciences enters the story (working for Generalissimo Franco, using his mesmeric expertise to interrogate prisoners) -- as do Mme. Curie, tarot cards, an assassination, and nightmares. Meanwhile, a haunted Monsieur Pain wanders the crepuscular, rainy streets of Paris. . . .
Publisher: New York : New Directions, 2010.
ISBN: 9780811218894
Branch Call Number: BOLAN
Characteristics: ix, 134 p. ; 21 cm.


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Jun 21, 2010

In this very short early novel by Bolaño, the title character has coped with his near-destruction in the holocaust of Verdun by retreating into the study of mesmerism. But when he agrees to treat a Chilean poet's hiccups, he finds that the world he thought he had escaped is once more reaching its tentacles into his life. Paris in 1938 is evoked as a dreamlike world of clammy dread. Fascists and surrealists alike bedevil M. Pain, who is completely ineffectual but nevertheless retains a strange dignity. Sometimes I found the writing a little repetitive and the situations predictably bizarre, but there's no denying the hypnotic power of the narrative.

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