The first sentences of the five stories in The Insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolaño:
Many years ago I had a friend named Jim, and he was the saddest North American I’ve ever come across.
THE INSUFFERABLE GAUCHO
In the opinion of those who knew him well, Manuel Pereda had two outstanding virtues: he was a caring and affectionate father, and an irreproachable lawyer with a record of honesty, in a time and place that were hardly conducive to such rectitude.
My name is José, though people call me Pepe, and some, usually those who don’t know me well, or with whom I’m not on familiar terms, call me Pepe the Cop.
ÁLVARO ROUSSELOT’S JOURNEY
Although it may not warrant an eminent place in the annals of literary mystery, the curious case of Álvaro Rousselot is worthy of attention, for a few minutes at least.
TWO CATHOLIC TALES
I. The Vocation
1. I was seventeen years old and my days, and I mean all of them, were a continual shuddering. I had no distractions; nothing could dissipate the anxiety that kept building up inside me. I was living like an interloping extra in scenes from the passion of St. Vincent. St. Vincent—deacon to Bishop Valero, tortured by the governor Dacian in the year 304—have pity on me!