Saturday, December 19, 2009
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
In the first part, we meet the various characters through the eyes of a 17 year old, who thinks he might be a poet. This young man, Juan Garcia Madero, spends his days reading and writing and discussing literature with the group members. He also discovers his sexuality, and much of the section deals with his sexual awakenings and various partners.
The second part is written forty years later, and is written as a series of short interviews with various people who have encountered either Lima or Belano over those years. Through these vignettes, we discover what has happened to these poets over the succeeding decades. The story winds through several countries and continents. Each person knows a bit of their stories, and the reader is able to slowly piece together their lives.
The third part is a flashback to the road trip that Belano, Lima, Madero and a prostitute take to try to find Cesarea and what caused her to disappear. The events of that trip fuel the rest of the book, although the reader only realises this in retrospect.
The Savage Detectives is a book that will be considered important for years, and will probably become a classic. Many readers might pick it up thinking it is a mystery, and they might be disappointed. But those readers that stick around for the ride will be entranced as they enter Bolano's world. This is definately a book that will bear rereads, and is recommended for readers who appreciate cutting edge literature and exposure to the literature of other countries.