Los detectives salvajes
Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) created a very special novel with The Savage Detectives. The novel is constantly moving, grinding slowly across the years steady and sure as a freight train, carrying the baggage of our existence towards the inevitable finality of life. During the course of my reading, people would misinterpret the title and tell me they enjoyed a good crime thriller and inquire into the plot of the book I clutched lovingly in my hands. While this is no ‘whodunnit’ nov ...more
I just met a close friend from graduate school for dinner last week - he now lives in San Fr ...more
kept at a distance from our main characters, we hear testimonials by various people who knew them through different chapters ...more
Sorry, I meant to share my review of The Savage Detectives sooner but things got sort of crazy. I was enjoying a Cuba Libre at El Loto de Quintana on Avenida Guerrero near the Glorieta de Insurgentes with Ian Graye’s visceral reviewers, the self-proclaimed readers of the Goodreads avant-garde. We were discussing the poetry of Alberto Bonifaz Nuño and López Velarde and even the butch queer Manuel José de la Cruz from San Luis Potosí when I noticed the waitress Jacinta R ...more
I want to sum up my thoughts about this book using a quote from its pages…
“…What a shame that time passes, don’t you think? What a shame that we die, and get old, and everything good goes galloping away from us.”
But that seems insufficient. How about a song?
That doesn’t quite do it either. How about a poem?
SELF PORTRAIT AT TWENTY YEARS
I set off, I took up the march and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear,
my stomach dropped, my head was bu ...more
I bought this book 15 months ago. I finished it yesterday. It started off as a crisp, thin-leafed semi-brick whose 648 pages intimidated me. I only got the courage to read it when a discussion group gave me the impetus I needed. Now, it sits less crisp, but read, on my desk, wondering who will read it next. Like me, it’s 15 months older, but we are both easing into middle age and are still making new friends. We two are friends now, as if we’ve known ea ...more
I walked around Mexico City for a while. And then I sat in a coffee shop and wrote poetry for seven hours. And then I saw a crazy poet I know and we argued about Octavio Paz. And then I read (name drop about 30 Latin American poets of whom I've never heard). And then I wanted to see Maria.
But somebody who cares a lot about the history and insider references of Latin American poetry might love it. I only managed 150 pages.
Since there are so many fantastic reviews of The Savage Detectives, I thought I would offer a slightly different approach as per below.
In Part 1, the first-person narrator, 17 year-old Juan Garcia Madero, tells us right off he is reading the erotic fiction of Pierre Louys (incidentally, one of Louys's novels was made into a Luis Buñuel film – That Obscure Object of Desire). Also, the way Juan speaks of the visceral realists, a group of wild avant-garde poets where young Juan is a member, reminde ...more
This review, such as it is, might be considered spoilerish, actually, it’s a lotta spoilerish, it’s presented in a rambling, perhaps, incoherent manner, and it is tentatively offered. It also includes a speculative consideration, for your reading enjoyment—one you’re very entitled to disagree with. Take a little theory, take a little text, stir them together, you get speculation. Toward that end I focus on a single aspect of the novel. You’ve been warned.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you want to know wh...more
Unconditional love of a mother, passionate love of a lover, bloody revenge by an enemy.
Teachings of a teacher, lessons learnt by a student, choosing a road untraveled.
Poems by poets, novels by writers, paintings by painters.
A lost idol, reminiscences by ironic souls, A regained Idol.
Love, obsession, sex, drugs, heart-breaks, longing, road-trip, search, survival.
Arturo Belano, Roberto Bolano, Ulises Lima, Mario Santiago- ...more
― Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
“In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we're no more than castrated cats”
― Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
This is a book that is nearly impossible to review, absolutely impossible to summarize, and simultaneously amazing and frustrating. Bolaño created a novel and a narrative that (IMHO) attempted to capture the energy, th ...more
To do anything well we must do it until death, and we won't have gotten closer to perfection for all of that; and it is sad that most of us don't do anything more than what was asked of us by something else a long time ago; and so our energies are dispersed and lost and we are less for our efforts. Not to serve another and not to serve the Self but to serve the inner Void where all infinities collide and collapse. If we followed what calls to us most desperately we'd all be wanderers, or we'd ...more
I'd like to phone in a review, please.
I don't know how to do it myself.
I'm sorry sir. As part of Goodreads terms of service, I could have accepted: illness, vacation, out of body experience, picking vegetables in a garden, working overtime, mission control for the Mars rover program, --
-- That's it, that's it, mission control. I'm working mission control. It's --
-- Be serious, sir.
Alright, fine. I'll work on it myself.
Now we want ...more
This is a brilliant book. This is a frustrating book.
This is due to the brilliance and the frustration of its second section, the largest section of the Chilean born Roberto Bolaño’s debut novel. This, the book’s namesake, is a sprawling and splintered affair that features an array of thrilling locales that would make Roland Emmerich’s budget committee blush. From Mexico to ...more
There are no true individuals. Bolaño knew this.
Juan García Madero did not know this.
When we were 17 years old, none of us knew this either. Sometimes when we're 30 we still don't know this. And if we're lucky/unlucky/smart/stupid maybe when we're 60 we won't know this then either.
This book is a lingering smoke cloud, a feeling that will not go away, impending doom?, recognition?, a satire of the literary world and a hom ...more
Three visceral realists, an abused prostitute, a sphinx-like poet and a hounding masochistic pimp. Savage Detectives is a segmented nostalgia of barefaced narratives, miscellaneous testimonies and a thrilling road trip. It comes across as an intricate brainteaser that has passed the test of time by how artistic and diagnostically zealous youth can be. This is my third Bolano manuscript and I dearly yearn to pen an Ode to this bohemian soul. However, conf ...more
300 pages later, and nothing has happened yet, so I'm having second thoughts about my first impression. It's not at all clear what the big deal is supposed to be about this book. I mean, seriousl ...more
The Savage Detectives seems like a book written entirely between the lines. The plot consists of several people talking about their encounters with the poets Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, the two creators of the visceral realist gang. The feeling of lost time, lost friends, lost ambitions builds with each of their testimonies so that by the last page - the last sentence, "What's outside the window?" - you have the feeling of being punched in the ...more
There is no reason for me to copy and paste Wikipedia's biography of Bolaño's life. The man was ...more
Maybe this book is a little like that. The vast middle section is a profile of “infrarealist” poet Arturo Belano (Bolano’s alter ego) and sidekick Ulises Lim ...more
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Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.