January 2, 2011

Literary Pick (****)

The Savage Detectives
-Roberto Bolano

I would have loved to read this book in Spanish. I bet there are minute, yet significant expressions and details lost in the translation that you can only experience reading it in it's original language. This novel is like the love-child of Marquez and Murakami. Perhaps. one day I will read it in Spanish. I think I will have to, because I enjoyed it so much.

I know readers who didn't enjoy this novel accuse it of being cliquey and haphazard, but perhaps it's because they were constantly anticipating something grand to happen, and that is exactly what Bolano meant when he referred to readers who buy into the "exotic stereotype"-style narrative. Although, I have to admit, Bolano himself falls into this trap with The Savage Detectives, with examples of ghosts, whores, and just a dab of magical realism, but I loved it all!

The story begins in a diary format, and later moves on to an interview format, in which many poets are questioned about the whereabouts of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, later Cesaria Tinajero. Each account is like a short story. Bolano rarely writes within quotation marks, but the dialogue flows smoothly like real-time conversations and interviews. I enjoyed all of the stories. Each character had their own fascinating tale to tell, and all so full of intrigue. How talented to be able to write so many short stories with so many different plots and scenarios. That takes an incredible amount of skill and talent. I even read one of the stories aloud to hear the words, and I chose a good one too, the one by Pablo Del Valle from Madrid. By coincidence that one sounded more like poetry than any of the other stories and it sounded so beautiful to hear it spoken out.

I wish Cesarias poem would've been made more clearer. I know it was suppose to be a joke, but I'm not clear on why since Cesaria was a serious and reserved character. I wasn't 100% clear on the ending but I guess Miguel and Lupe got caught by the police and when he was asking, "what's outside the window?" it meant prison cell window because he made a reference to a star. That would make a lot of sense. I'm not sure. But I loved this story. It was a long book but there wasn't a moment where I found myself bored. I could see reading it again down the road.

Favorite Passage:

"He whispered that he loved me, that he would never be able to forget me. then he got up (twenty seconds after he'd spoken, at most) and slapped my face. The sound echoed through the house. We were on the first floor, but I heard the sound of his hand (when his palm left my cheek) rise up the stairs and enter each of the rooms on the second floor, dropping down through the climbing vines and rolling like glass marbles in the yard. When I could react , I made a fist with my right hand and hit him in the face. He hardly moved. But his arm was fast enough to hit me again. Bastard, I said, faggot, coward, and I launched a clumsy attack, punching, scratching, and kicking. He didn't even try to dodge my blows. Fucking masochist".



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