All right. I'm going to keep this short. I did not like By Night in Chile. I might not have understood By Night in Chile. But from what I understood, here's what it's about: A smug jerk of a priest makes a name for himself as a literary critic, enjoys socializing in luxurious surroundings with Chile's intelligentsia, hates the Allende revolution because it puts a cramp on his high-living style, feels the cold touch of fear when Pinochet rises to power, but mostly continues with his smugness and his parties, dies.
I just couldn't take an interest in the narrator. He was an ass. I believe that he was supposed to be an ass. But he had no redeeming qualities at all, nor was he very interesting.
The writing was mostly tedious but occasionally quite lovely. I'm going to copy out a few quotes I enjoyed but don't start thinking this is a fun or compelling book. It's really not.
"life went on and on, like a necklace of rice grains, on each grain of which a landscape had been painted, tiny grains and microscopic landscapes, and I knew that everyone was putting the necklace on and wearing it, but no one had the patience or the strength or the courage to take it off and look ati t closely and decipher each landscape grain by grain." (Loc 1192)
"boredom circumnavigating the Chilean imagination like an enormous aircraft carrier" (Loc 1192)
Wait. That's it, actually. And they were both on the same page, too.
I'm willing to believe that Bolano's other books are better. But this one? Nope.