Blanes | Roberto Bolano's Chair
In yesterday’s post I spoke of the connection of seemingly humble objects with one’s personal rituals. That set me to thinking about the chair of the great Chilean writer Roberto Bolano. I had photographed it some time ago in Blanes, a small nostalgic Catalan beach town, where Bolano lived and wrote the epic 2666, his last great work.
I had been photographing sacred objects of our artists. Herman Hesse’s typewriter, Virginia Woolf’s cane, Robert Grave’s straw hat, Emily Bronte’s christening cup, and Arthur Rimbaud’s utensils from Ethiopia. Having been granted permission I visited with the Bolano family to photograph something that spoke of him. I saw his notebooks and board games and his black leather jacket, but it was his chair that seemed to call to me.
It seems he was very attached to this particular chair. Much like Glenn Gould was to the low light-weight wooden folding chair that accompanied him around the world, for every concert and recording session. As Bolano moved from place to place, he also took his chair everywhere; I felt very privileged to be able to photograph it. The chair appeared to have an innate dignity, and certainly possessed the stoic energy of the writer who loved it.
While preparing this post I remembered that April 28th was Roberto Bolano’s birthday. He lived to be just fifty, long enough to welcome and bid farewell to the new century and the chair where he had sat at the end of his sadly abbreviated life, in the beach town of Blanes, writing his masterpiece.