Book 942 Roberto Bolano – The Savage Detectives

After reading, and loving the mighty 2666, I just couldn’t wait to read The Savage Detectives. I mean in theory this was the book which made Bolano’s name and propelled him into the big league? Instead, at least from my point of view I finished the novel with a set of very mixed reactions.

The Savage Detectives is a satirical attack on the literary movements which cropped up during the 1960’s namely the Magical Realist and the OULIPO. Here we have a literary group called the Visceral Realists and it’s founders are Arturo Belano (guess who he represents) and Ulises Lima. After great bouts of poetry and flings with the other members of the movements these two go on a world-wide trip in order to find Cesarea Tinajero, who is the heroine behind the Visceral Realists.

There are passages which dazzle and descriptions. metaphors and analogies which will confirm that Bolano was a literary genius and yet there is something off-putting about the novel and that is its second part.

The book is divided into three sections. The first and last are a description of the Visceral Realist life as told through the eyes of a university dropout called Juan Garcia Madero. It’s in diary form and without doubt the strongest and funniest parts of the book.

It is the over lengthy second part in which things become to drag. In fact during this section of the book I began to get highly irritated at how the pace changed and slowed down the flow. Comprised of short interviews where characters give their own impressions of Belano and Lima while filling us readers with what these two did on their travels and helping us understand these two enigmas better is a very exhaustive read. In theory it would have been excellent but when such a section goes on for nearly three hundred pages you feel worn down. By the end I was relieved to have shut the book.

As such The Savage Detectives is a masterpiece in scope but due to its execution it’s a very flawed one. If you’ve got the time a patience check it out but really I would say stick with 2666, it is way more varied and satisfying.

Book 987 Roberto Bolano – 2666

I have been staring at my computer screen, trying my hardest to summarise Roberto Bolano’s posthumous work, 2666 and trust me it’s mighty difficult as it’s plotlines cross and reoccur like a Tarantino film script.

The book is divided into five parts and the whole thing revolves the Mexican city of Santa Teresa (basically it’s Ciudad Juarez, where over 200 murders of women took place). It also features a mysterious writer called Benno Von Archimboldi and not only that there’s a menage a quatres, an insane intellectual, a sports journalist PLUS tips on how to barbeque meat properly,Duchamp, different phobias and the myth of Sisyphus and we are still scraping the surface.

Mainly I see it as a novel about death and the devolution of the human being. Killings and murders do feature prominently so I assume that i’m correct. But, as I said before there much more. How about the plight of being a writer or the problems of war??

Eventually, in the fifth part everything is tied up and that is when the novel makes sense.

Bolano’s characters all have an evil streak to them and contain no redeeming factors whatsoever. Despite this onslaught of pessimism, 2666 is a momentous novel. Dazzling and intelligent from beginning to end. However I admit I have never read such a frustrating, mind boggling, meandering book either (at least Pynchon’s novels all return to their focal point. 2666 just keeps on opening loose end after loose end)

It is not easy but VERY rewarding, especially when you reach the fifth book. Novel of the decade? oh yes definitely. NOTHING will come close to this.