Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño is a book of sly humor and dry wit. It masquerades as a catalog of short author biographies - authors who happen to be fascists and Nazi sympathizers. It traces their lives, reporting in a journalistic tone their sometimes subtle, sometimes overt allegiances toward the ideologies of white supremacy.

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Nazi Literature in the Americas (New Directions)

In some ways, Nazi Literature feels like a counter-mythos to famous writer salons, though the authors surveyed in the biographical catalog are dispersed widely in the Americas and do not all appear to have connections to one another (though plenty do). Still, it has the flavor of a movement, a grouping of genius. And that’s where I think the critique lies. It is not a critique against Nazis, nor even fascism in general, antisemitism, or white supremacy; Bolaño’s leftist politics are not in doubt here. He instead raises doubts about the literary community’s tendency toward insularity in an artistic sense, isolating themselves in an island of art and academia. …


How do you read today’s books without a passing familiarity with the classics?

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(Image by author)

All the best contemporary writers allude to these timeless tomes constantly. And I’m continually finding more depth in the classics to draw from. They’re classics not because they’re old, but because they’re timeless human stories.

Not all are going to engage you personally, of course. But to just dismiss a vast and diverse range of writers from different times and cultures simply because they’re labeled “classics” does disservice to oneself as a reader. There’s too much under the label of “classics” to simply dismiss them all. Say, “I don’t care for the modernists” or “Victorian humor is too dry for me” or “the Greek Epics are more tragic than I can bear.” …


In the lives of ambitious and creative people, the view is often forward. The view, in fact, is often tunnel-visioned in the sense of the next project, the next step in the process. What we forget is that the process is likely to only end when we do. So we need to remember to take a step back and celebrate our successes.

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That tunnel vision is a part of the reason we find success in our endeavors. Without it, we might only dream of the next project, the next big thing. Yet, even as we succeed (because the process of our vision continues in a forward direction,) it can often feel like we’ve never reached success. …


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This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) sort of gushed over it:

Dear R.E.
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).

Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to say about the two dialogue flash fiction stories I had submitted for…


That’s right, a terrorist group not only sent me a letter, but using Publishers Clearing House style writing, told me I could win guns and gold in a sweepstakes.

Part of entering involved stickers. There were three of them.

I WANT TO WIN GUNS & GOLD!

I WANT TO WIN GEAR & MORE!

I WANT TO WIN TWO BONUS GUNS!

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All I had to do was affix these stickers to my official entry form. Oh, and hopefully while I’m at it, I could join their terrorist organization.

How can they get away with using the US Postal Service in service of spreading terror?

Let me tell you that I actually see US citizens wearing clothing that proudly proclaims them members of this terrorist organization. Yes, it’s one of those kinds of groups, one that takes people in, feeds them pure ideology, and spews out acolytes with a devotion to a cause that has no normal moral sense — at least not in the face of facts, in the face of our dead. …


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As a child, I shinnied the coarse trunks of trees, carrying a book in a backpack or clamped resolutely between my chin and chest. I’d sit in the boughs of shady retreat and dappled light up there where the wind blew through leaves, and the leaves were an instrument, accompanied by birdsong, and I’d read of dichotomous fairyland entities who struggled against one another. The hero’s armor always shone, and he’d raise his double-edged sword above his windblown hair in righteous victory. …


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Alchetron © 2019

Mark the doors with the sigils of the moon, of the red red river, of the biting chains. Empty dawn of its fire. Let dusk sink eternally into crepuscular paralyzation — hypnagogic, terrifying. Dragons long slumbering in the earth: Rise! Burn the tents. Rape the women. Convert the men to the church of sharpened steel. Aim high. Pillage low. Wear white in the dark and don’t forget to blow all the candles out. Ancient markings waver at the rumble of the prehuman tongues. Fling the buckets of waste and watch the earth’s boils grow, fester, pop in unholy birth. Dead birth. Wasted-looking things, staggering in hunger, chewing living flesh to fill their ever-hungry bellies and continuously excreting the filth of consummated death. T̵r̵e̵e̵s̵ ̵t̵h̵a̵t̵ ̵g̵l̵i̵s̵t̵e̵n̵ ̵a̵f̵t̵e̵r̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵n̵i̵g̵h̵t̵ ̵r̵a̵i̵n̵ ̵w̵h̵e̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵s̵u̵n̵ ̵s̵p̵r̵e̵a̵d̵s̵ ̵i̵t̵s̵ ̵h̵a̵n̵d̵s̵ ̵u̵p̵o̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵e̵a̵r̵t̵h̵,̵ ̵a̵w̵a̵k̵e̵n̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵ ̵a̵ ̵c̵a̵l̵l̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵f̵i̵r̵s̵t̵ ̵s̵l̵e̵e̵p̵y̵-̵e̵y̵e̵d̵ ̵b̵e̵a̵s̵t̵.̵ ̵C̵o̵m̵e̵ ̵f̵e̵a̵s̵t̵ ̵i̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵m̵o̵r̵n̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵g̵r̵a̵s̵s̵.̵ ̵C̵o̵m̵e̵ ̵c̵l̵i̵m̵b̵ ̵a̵n̵d̵ ̵f̵i̵n̵d̵ ̵f̵r̵u̵i̵t̵.̵ ̵F̵l̵y̵ ̵d̵o̵w̵n̵ ̵t̵o̵ ̵p̵e̵c̵k̵ ̵a̵ ̵w̵o̵r̵m̵ ̵o̵r̵ ̵i̵n̵s̵e̵c̵t̵.̵ ̵A̵ ̵c̵y̵c̵l̵e̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵i̵n̵ ̵a̵ ̵c̵y̵c̵l̵e̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵i̵n̵ ̵a̵ ̵c̵y̵c̵l̵e̵.̵ Mark no time with discordant music. Sour the stomach. Fog the brain. Restless beings, mad, never able to wake up and never able to sleep. Bedecked with razorous wires, flagellate in the empty revelations of the abyss. Raise up the holy tablets and smash them on the skulls of the devout. Laugh in agony. Weep in self-mutilation. Small fish float in the river, but they are dead. Everything is poisoned. The crops wilt in the fields. A̵ ̵b̵u̵i̵l̵d̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵i̵s̵ ̵b̵o̵r̵n̵,̵ ̵g̵i̵l̵d̵e̵d̵ ̵t̵o̵ ̵g̵l̵o̵r̵i̵f̵y̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵S̵p̵i̵r̵i̵t̵ ̵o̵f̵ ̵m̵a̵n̵k̵i̵n̵d̵:̵ ̵a̵ ̵b̵e̵a̵u̵t̵y̵ ̵m̵a̵r̵k̵ ̵o̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵f̵a̵c̵e̵ ̵o̵f̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵e̵a̵r̵t̵h̵.̵ ̵H̵e̵a̵r̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵c̵h̵o̵i̵r̵ ̵s̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵i̵t̵s̵ ̵c̵h̵r̵i̵s̵t̵e̵n̵i̵n̵g̵.̵ ̵R̵i̵t̵u̵a̵l̵ ̵i̵s̵ ̵m̵a̵d̵e̵ ̵a̵n̵e̵w̵.̵ ̵S̵o̵m̵e̵w̵h̵e̵r̵e̵ ̵a̵ ̵p̵i̵n̵k̵-̵b̵l̵o̵s̵s̵o̵m̵e̵d̵ ̵s̵h̵r̵u̵b̵ ̵i̵s̵ ̵b̵l̵o̵o̵m̵i̵n̵g̵.̵ ̵A̵n̵ ̵o̵l̵d̵ ̵m̵a̵n̵ ̵s̵m̵i̵l̵e̵s̵ ̵a̵t̵ ̵a̵ ̵c̵h̵i̵l̵d̵ ̵a̵n̵d̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵w̵o̵r̵l̵d̵ ̵i̵s̵ ̵c̵h̵a̵n̵g̵e̵d̵ ̵f̵o̵r̵e̵v̵e̵r̵.̵ Naked, angry, spiteful, trash-dwelling men club the merry procession in an unexpected attack. “Where did they come from?” Fools. They were always here. All the teeth are broken. Bloody gums give a rigor mortis grin. There is one left weeping. Weeping. The pleasure is in observing this lingering pain. Stain of all Nations. Puss of all Peoples. The same stain. The same puss. Mingled into a toxic brew. The cauldron heated by the dragon’s breath. The putrid soup stirred by a diseased hand. It matters not the pattern of the markings. What matters is the scar. A chopped-off tongue bleeds. A song becomes a wail. Rings of devotion can be buried. Dragons can hoard the precious bones they shat as well as they can bed atop man’s polished metals and stones. One sentinel screaming, “Turn back! Turn back!” won’t keep the spelunkers out. Everyone is invited to drown. A̵n̵d̵ ̵m̵a̵y̵b̵e̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵r̵e̵’̵s̵ ̵a̵ ̵l̵o̵v̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵k̵i̵s̵s̵ ̵b̵e̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵s̵h̵a̵r̵e̵d̵ ̵i̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵c̵o̵o̵l̵ ̵n̵i̵g̵h̵t̵.̵ …


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Photo by Lara Alegre

What do you think of A Man in the Snow?

I don’t think much of him.

He lies there, still and freezing. It’s his art. A silent performance in the snow.

He’s in a fucking snowsuit. I mean, it’d be at least a little interesting if he was in the nude.

What I like is how the installation is never the same twice. Sometimes he’s deep in the snow. Other times there’s just a little snow, and he lies down on it. Once in a while you can catch him when it’s actually snowing, and he lets the snowflakes fall and melt on his face. …

About

Randal Eldon Greene

Fiction and founder of the Hello, Author newsletter. Words at AuthorGreene.com 📗

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