This short story, like much of Bolaño’s works, lies at the intersection of literature and politics and the ease with which the personal and the political blend effortlessly in his hands, as indeed they do in real life, is amazing.
I would not rate the story as one of his finest ones, but the prose is imaginative and exquisite and that alone would make it worth reading. Here is an excerpt:
When the lawyer’s two or three close friends asked him why he remained single, his response was always that he didn’t want to impose the unbearable burden (as he put it) of a stepmother on his offspring. In Pereda’s opinion, most of Argentina’s recent problems could be traced to the figure of the stepmother. We never had a mother, as a nation, he would say; or, she was never there; or, she left us on the doorstep of the orphanage. But we’ve had plenty of stepmothers, all sorts, starting with the great Peronist stepmother. And he would conclude: Of all the countries in Latin America, we’re the experts on stepmothers.