Roberto Bolano’s Odd Epigraph


Just a week remains until we discuss Roberto Bolano’s novel By Night in Chile. Excitement is building. I’ve been entertained, perplexed, and engrossed in this slim book. I can’t wait to hear what everybody else thought, and I can’t wait to learn about how to better read this disjointed text. Love it, hate it, you have to have a reaction to it, and I think that’s the whole point of what we’re doing here.

This book doesn’t give you breaks. Fine. We can figure that out. But, what it does give you is a beginning. The start of this book, oddly enough, is a call to put it down and pick up another book. Bolano’s vague epigraph is as follows:

“Take off your wig.”


A little research shows this line to be pulled from a short story by G.K. Chesterton called The Purple Wig. So here are a few questions:

  1. Why isn’t G.K. given?
  2. What does the line mean by itself?
  3. What does the line mean in reference to By Night in Chile?
  4. What does the line mean in reference to The Purple Wig?
  5. How do The Purple Wig and By Night in Chile interact?
  6. Does any of this illuminate or prepare us for the novel we are about to read?
  7. What the hell is going on?

You can find The Purple Wig here:

You can bring the answers to BookPeople this Sunday at 4pm.

If we talk about this epigraph for two hours, I’ll be the happiest human being on the planet.

See you soon.



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