The following excerpt comes from Raul Schenardi’s 2003 interview with Roberto Bolaño, conducted at the Turin Book Fair just months before the author’s death. The interview is written in Italian (although I’m not sure if it was conducted in Italian). The translation work is the result of two programs (Google Translate and Babel Fish) and a few dictionaries; I also used this Spanish translation as a second source for comparison.
. . . in all Latin American writers is an influence that comes from two main lines of the American novel, Melville and Twain. [The Savage] Detectives no doubt owes much to Mark Twain. Belano and Lima are a transposition of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. It’s a novel that follows the constant movement of the Mississippi. . . . I also read a lot of Melville, which fascinates me. Indeed, I flirt with the belief that I have a greater debt to Melville than Twain, but unfortunately I owe more to Mark Twain. Melville is an apocalyptic author. Twain is the day, Melville the night — and always much more impressive at night. In regard to modern American literature, I know it poorly. I know just up to the generation previous to Bellow. I have read enough of Updike, but do not know why; surely it was a masochistic act, as each page Updike brings me to the edge of hysteria. Mailer I like better than Updike, but I think as a writer, a prose writer, Updike is more solid. The last American writers I’ve read thoroughly and I know well are those of the “Lost Generation,” Hemingway, Faulkner, Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolff.