Abraham's Reviews > The Savage Detectives

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
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Jan 14, 11

bookshelves: fiction
Read from November 05, 2010 to January 14, 2011

So, I'll have to admit to spending a whole lot of time wondering what the story was here. There isn't a story so much as a world, described in a million little monologues surrounding two imaginary poets (one a clear cipher for the author), the movement they started, and all the people they came in contact with. After several hundred pages it occurred to me that this is what the book was: an attempt to create two lives and populate them with everyone who those lives touched. Once I got that I was able to relax, to read the book as I might read a poem: settled into the notion that these passages were meant to be enjoyed for their own sakes, that the narrative progress they described, the mystery the title coyly suggests, was not what the passages were written for. Once this happens, the book becomes beautiful and extravagant. The passages at the book fair (where was it? Spain) are especially beautiful (each starting with "let me tell you about the honor of poets" and ending with "everything that starts as comedy ends as _________). The book is a massive undertaking, maximal and unrelenting, an exercise in the monologue and one of the best examples of the world-making that makes for great epic writing. 577 pages about poets and not a single original poem!

Still, I feel the need for a narrative, like an addiction that needs sating. The book was like smoking a clove cigarette when addicted to regular cigarettes - tasty, extravagant, sweetly steeped in the motions of narrative but lacking the baser fulfillment I have come to enjoy in a plot.
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Reading Progress

12/04/2010 page 450
78.0%

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