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Roberto Bolaño was an examplary literary rebel. To drag fiction toward the unknown, he had to go there himself, and there invent a method with which to represent it. Since the unknown place was reality, the results were multi-dimensional.

—Sarah Kerr, New York Review of Books

Paris, 1938. 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 Pain and bribe him not to treat Vallejo, and Pain takes the money. Ravaged by guilt and anxiety, however, he does not intend to abandon his new patient, but then Pain’s access to the hospital is barred and Madame Reynaud leaves Paris.... Another practioner of the occult sciences enters the story (working for Franco, using his Mesmeric expertise to interrogate prisoners)—as do Mme. Curie, tarot cards, an assassination, and nightmares. Meanwhile, Monsieur Pain, haunted and guilty, wanders the crepuscular, rainy streets of Paris...


Monsieur Pain

Fiction by Roberto Bolaño

translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews
published January 1st, 2010
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