I really like Mark Sundeen. I feel like he's a kindred spirit, even some of his reminisced memories are similar to mine. He is a writer who wants to hI really like Mark Sundeen. I feel like he's a kindred spirit, even some of his reminisced memories are similar to mine. He is a writer who wants to have preconceived notions and delusions of grandeur, yet he also realizes where he truly fits in his oft-referenced "canon." Basically--I like his style. He's pretty rad.
The Making of Toro is about his ill-fated quest to cover bullfighting, in both Spain and Mexico, and to turn it into a book for a book deal he has already received an advance for. Car Camping-style, his quest is filled with mishaps and missteps. But Sundeen takes it all in stride, all the strange characters, all the failed attempts at relationships or even just hopes of relationships. Sundeen calls himself, his literary heroic alterego, Travis LaFrance. All things are possible through Travis LaFrance.
Sundeen often mentions that his life is not interesting enough for literature. That's where Travis LaFrance comes in. He *is* literature. He *is* that interesting spark in life. "My life is my art and versa vice." But what I really like is that Sundeen (intentionally, for obvious reasons), undersells himself. His life actually is interesting as literature. He has enough cynicism and self-doubt to turn his bizarre vignettes into a narrative that ends with a small, understated emotional punch that leaves you a little empty, a little wanting more, and a little inspired.
"that which we do is never as pretty as that which we think about" (83)
"There's still freedom left in the country, ... but you gotta walk two days from the end of the road to find it." (141)
"You must write for yourself. It must be personal, not commercial. The writer must have no ego. His work is a service to mankind." (95)...more
This was my first Roberto Bolaño book ... and now I'm hooked (just picked up 2666!). He has an amazing storytelling ability--his use of conversation iThis was my first Roberto Bolaño book ... and now I'm hooked (just picked up 2666!). He has an amazing storytelling ability--his use of conversation is mastery. He can jump in and out of one hundred characters with distinct voices and mannerisms and sayings, all interweaved with their own separate stories and emotion and tales. Many of these would be classic short stories in their own right.
The novel has three distinct sections. The first and third are narrated by a young visceral realist poet, the 17-year old Juan García Madero. These portions are linear and connected, and tell a specific story. The middle section is nonlinear and consists of a large number of characters (some imagined, some not) being "interviewed" and telling their stories as they relate to Arturo Belano (Bolaño's alter-ego in the book) and Ulises Lima. These stories are what I mentioned above, subsisting on their own but coming together to tell a grander tale of life and notoriety and expectation and aging. Note: I DID find the transition from the first to the second section abrupt and jarring--I had a harder time picking up the book as often once I reached that second section. BUT, after getting used to the new format, that section flowed as well as the others, especially toward its second half, when the pieces begin to fall together nicely and the many (many!) characters are recognizable both in their own subsequent interview entries and as the related characters tell their "other" sides of the story.
My writing has been inspired after reading The Savage Detectives. I have the desire to be a more a active part of literary "movement," or collective--whatever. The good old visceral realists.
Fantastic book. I will need to read it again, if not only to gain the inspiration again, but to be able to understand the vast multitude of characters, and how such people can relate to the goings-on and relationships within my own life.
A quote or two can sum up some themes in the book:
"writing poetry was the most beautiful thing anyone could do on this godforsaken earth" (134)
"Literature isn't innocent." (154)
"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" (185)
"Do you know what the worst thing about literature is? ... That you end up being friends with writers. And friendship, treasure though it may be, destroys your critical sense." (359)
"a poem doesn't necessarily have to mean anything, except that it's a poem" (397)
"in a burst of utter Mexicanness, I knew that we were ruled by fate and that we would all drown in the storm, and I knew that only the cleverest, myself certainly not included, would stay afloat much longer" (406)
"I try not to rush the passage from comedy to tragedy. Life does a find job on its own." (500) ...more