Aug 26, 12
Read from July 08 to August 26, 2012
Roberto Bolano has created a truly poetic masterpiece in his literary novel, "The Savage Detectives." Because the book is so rooted in the visceral realist movement of Mexican poetry, it is fitting that the narrative style should flow so lyrically as it does. The book is a sandwich that begins and ends in the form of a diary that carries the story line forward toward fruition. The filling in the middle is comprised of points of view principally by the main players of this tale seeking to build an underground literary movement and by virtue of its literary merits to enable it to become mainstream. The focus of the narrative is upon two poets and a prostitute who know each other from Mexico City. The real narrative impetus for this character-driven story line is the innovation through which the characters become known to us by virtue of the descriptive stories of encounters by those who know them. It's a bit like Balzac's "Human Comedy" insofar as we gain exposition about both the main figures of the stories and their lives based upon what other people say about them. High verisimilitude is achieved in the narrative in both Balzac and Bolano by this method of exposition. It is true that ultimately we shall be remembered by what others who survive us have to say about us. The narrative describes the dismal, abject poverty of the poets who sacrifice nearly every material comfort so that the poetry of their visceral realism can become recognized for its true merits as a literary movement. Their artistic persistence is noble, heartbreaking and only after many years brings them the prospects of earning the credibility of a cultural movement. Octavio Paz lingers as a leitmotif tormenting these true poets with his material wealth and acclaim as a Nobel poet whose literary gifts as a poet they don't seem to respect. This novel is a joy to read and purposely I read it slowly to savor the narrative with its literary contributions to narrative style. If I'm being honest, there were a few times when I wished the narrators' POVs had more nuance in the writing style as the narrators were so idiosyncratic themselves. I also feel that the title of this book does an injustice to its purpose as a world-class literary novel and seems to present it as a lesser murder mystery. If you love literary novels, then you'll adore this book. The writing is elegant, innovative, powerful, lyrical and sophisticated: what a masterpiece! Now I look forward to reading more novelists from Central and South America based upon the genius that I discovered in this novel by Bolano so rightly recommended highly by my discerning friends at Goodreads.