As stated in its introduction, Distant Star is an expansion of the final chapter of Bolaño's earlier work, Nazi Literature in the Americas, an encyclopedic novel composed of short biographies of imaginary Pan-American authors on the political right. The section, entitled "The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman", is the longest in the novel and is markedly different from the other sections of the book, taking on a less encyclopedic and more personal tone. In the expansion of the text some of the characters' names remained unchanged (e.g. the narrator's fellow prisoner Norberto and the detective Abel Ramirez) but for most of the main characters the names were altered:
|Character||Distant Star||"The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman"|
|Protagonist||Carlos Wieder/Alberto Ruiz-Tagle||Ramírez Hoffman/Emilio Stevens|
|Twin Sisters||Veronica and Angelica Garmendia||María and Magdalena Venegas|
In spite of the differences between the texts Bolaño places them within the same fictional world, claiming that the story was narrated to him by Arturo B. in Nazi Literature in the Americas, but Arturo was displeased with the outcome:
- "So we took that final chapter and shut ourselves up for a month and a half in my house in Blanes, where, guided by his dreams and nightmares, we composed the present novel. My role was limited to preparing refreshments, consulting a few books, and discussing the reuse of numerous paragraphs with Arturo and the increasingly animated ghost of Pierre Menard."