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The Skating Rink: Book summary and reviews of The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolano

The Skating Rink

by Roberto Bolano

The Skating Rink
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2009
    208 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A hair-raising book that delivers Bolaño's signature mix of mordant wit and romantic tenderness, The Skating Rink is both a crime and a love story. The story starts off with Gaspar Heredia — writer, Mexican, illegal immigrant, and stand-in for Bolaño himself —who meets Remo Moran, a businessman who pulled himself up to wealth from his inauspicious beginnings as a stall vendor of cheap tourist souvenirs.

Moran hires Heredia as night watchman for a campground Moran runs as a stopping ground for many illegal immigrants. Heredia, out of boredom, starts spying on Moran’s odd friends and accidentally stumbles across a skating rink built by a corrupt civil servant — Enric Rosquelles: pompous, fat, squat and ugly — who has diverted public funds to secretly build the rink on behalf of the love of his life: María, a young blonde babe whose abiding passion is to make it onto the Spanish Olympic ice-skating team and who, unbeknownst to Enric, is having a fling with Remo Moran, our successful businessman risen from cheap souvenirs. Alas, the discovery of Enric's crimes leads to madcap blackmail, more crime, sex, intrigue — and murder. Told in rotating narratives of the three men whose actions revolve around the young blonde skating babe and her dim-witted but strong-willed manipulations.

Set in the imaginary resort town of Z, north of Barcelona, Spain.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bolaño’s strategy works magnificently to de-center the reader and push her toward the search, but the belated nature of much of the story means that The Skating Rink can seem a little diffuse on the first reading. True, the fog is purposeful, and true again, there is something very rewarding to seeing this book take on a second skin as few books can upon re-reading, but there is something to be said for a book’s first impression, and in The Skating Rink that first impression is often one of effervescence. It’s hard to fault Bolaño, because all the information is indeed right there, and yet the book is so constructed that I cannot imagine the reader who would get it all on the first pass." - The Quarterly Conversation

"Each chapter of Roberto Bolaño's The Skating Rink ends in an ellipsis, a brief gap in the proceedings that allows the reader a moment to consider the key question at the heart of this short, lively novel: Where does one's perception of events intersect with the way things actually happened?" - San Francisco Chronicle

"Bolaño's humble fiction doesn’t pretend to know all, or any, of the answers. His elliptical modus operandi can be tantalizing, and at times almost unbearable. The more you read him, however, the more you come to savor the welts and infelicities, the gaping narrative holes and peculiar detours: you realise that Bolaño is turning you into a new kind of reader." - The National (Abu-Dhabi)

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Author Information

Roberto Bolano Author Biography

Roberto Bolaño was born in Chile on April 28, 1953.  For much of his life he lived a nomadic existence, living in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain. During the 1970s, he formed an avant-garde group called infrarealism with other writers and poets in Mexico where he lived after leaving Chile when it fell under military dictatorship. He returned to Chile in 1972 but left again the next year when General Augusto Pinochet came to power.

In the early eighties, he finally settled in the small town of Blanes, near Gerona in Northern Spain, where he died on July 15, 2003 of liver disease while awaiting a transplant.  He is survived by his Spanish wife and his son and daughter. 

Bolaño received some of the Hispanic world's highest literary ...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Roberto Bolano: roh-bAIR-toh bo-LAR-neo

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