the popularity of bolaño

“Tom Disch, the late poet and novelist, once gave me a piece of advice: if I wanted to write a best-selling novel, I should write a novel about a poet. All literate Americans, he said, love poets, even though they don’t much care for modern poetry, or read a lot of it. I followed his advice, and though the resulting book fell well short of the best-seller list, I saw the fictional advantages of such a character. A poet in a novel is in touch with a realm of words more potent than the prose fiction in which he or she is embedded, and thus gains a numinous intensity of feeling from the start. It is not even necessary to supply your poet with great poems: he merely has to ponder the possibility of them.”

(John Crowley on Nicholson Baker in the Boston Review.)

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