The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano


i just finished the first section… what a book! this is the hottest book i’ve read in a long time. very very sexy. whatever your orientation, i think this book would steam you up… to be a young thing around town! …and the writing is so natural… he makes it seem so easy. so far it reminds in a way of frederick ted castle’s ANTICIPATION, not too similar except that fast fast momentum of being young and everything happening at once, the gush to speak. the immediately-recognizable genius *and* likeability of someone like brautigan, though with a much longer, more sustained development. sprawling like a wong-kar-wai film (and i think i think that not just cuz 2666 sounds like 2046) but the coolness and the beautiful men and women, the youth-cult and moral wideness to speak credibly and generously while also truthfully about pimps and crime and prostitution and drugs, the ability to flow the whole mix all together. the underlying (glamourous) sadness. but really he stands alone and apart from all these, unique.

the idea of poetry in it, like how bunuel would speak about the surrealists as being governed by an invincible and strict moral code. an unstateable moral code but one governed by the laws of poetry!

let’s see how section two goes…

…now reporting from the middle of the middle. i thought that the middle would sprawl too much, but it doesn’t. a long but comfortable narrative, once you’re in it. slowly the story of ulises and arturo becomes revealed. an amazing (and actually: sweet) bit of autobiographical fiction.

constantly reflective about literature, how to live a life of one, its mechanics, the people, the gossip, the magazines, the rejections, the attitude.

to wet yer whistle, to remind you of how yours was once wet… here’s a bit i liked, from p. 184, from the POV of an older professor-type:

“There are books for when you’re bored. Plenty of them. There are books for when you’re calm. The best kind, in my opinion. There are also books for when you’re sad. And there are books for when you’re happy. There are books for when you’re thirsty for knowledge. And there are books for when you’re desperate. The latter are the kind of books Ulises Lima and Belano wanted to write. A serious mistake, as we’ll soon see. Let’s take for example, an average reader, a cool-headed, mature, educated man leading a more or less healthy life. A man who buys books and literary magazines. So there you have him. This man can read things that are written for when you’re calm, but he can also read any other kind of book with a critical eye, dispassionately, without absurd or regrettable complicity. That’s how I see it. I hope I’m not offending anyone. Now let’s take the desperate reader, who is presumably the audience for the literature of desperation. What do we see? First: the reader is an adolescent or an immature adult, insecure, all nerves. He’s the kind of fucking idiot (pardon my language) who committed suicide after reading Werther. …the kind of person or freak who’s unable to read all the way through In Search for Lost Time, for example, or The Magic Mountain ( a paradigm of calm, serene complete literature, in my humble opinion)… Am I making myself clear? Good. So I talked to them, told them, warned them, alerted them to the dangers they were facing. It was like talking to a wall.”


finished it. man–what a book! bradford morrow says, truly, about coleman dowell’s ISLAND PEOPLE, “The kind of novel that can change a reader’s life,”–and this one too! fantastic! it changed my life!


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