New Year's Eve, 1975: Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their quest: to track down the obscure, vanished poet Cesárea Tinajero. A violent showdown in the Sonora desert turns search to flight; twenty years later Belano and Lima are still on the run.
The explosive first long work by "the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, Los Angeles Times), The Savage Detectives follows Belano and Lima through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross in Central America, Europe, Israel, and West Africa. This chorus includes the muses of visceral realism, the beautiful Font sisters; their father, an architect interned in a Mexico City asylum; a sensitive young follower of Octavio Paz; a foul-mouthed American graduate student; a French girl with a taste for the Marquis de Sade; the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky; a Chilean stowaway with a mystical gift for numbers; the anorexic heiress to a Mexican underwear empire; an Argentinian photojournalist in Angola; and assorted hangers-on, detractors, critics, lovers, employers, vagabonds, real-life literary figures, and random acquaintances.
A polymathic descendant of Borges and Pynchon, Roberto Bolaño traces the hidden connection between literature and violence in a world where national boundaries are fluid and death lurks in the shadow of the avant-garde. The Savage Detectives is a dazzling original, the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century.
Be the first to review this title!
Three visceral realists, an abused prostitute, a sphinx-like poet and a hounding masochistic pimp. Savage Detectives is a segmented nostalgia of barefaced narratives, miscellaneous testimonies and a thrilling road trip. It comes across as an intricate brainteaser that has passed the test of time by how artistic and diagnostically zealous youth can be. This is my third Bolano manuscript and I dearly yearn to pen an Ode to this bohemian soul. However, conferring that privilege to Thomas Pynchon after Mason & Dixon seems a better prospect.
1.The most important thing about riddles are that they are meant to be tricky. The best plan is to break it into manageable chunks.
Juan Garcia Madero, initiates with personal journal entries on his path to the mysterious visceral realist underground poetic society head by Lima and Belano, boycotted commercial poets or “sold out peasant poets”. Madero comes across as a typical bemused teen, dropping out of law school to pursue his literary passions with knack of memorizing every damn poetic definition. From what it seems like his entry into the realists clique, Madero was rather happy fucking Maria Font, Rosario and Lupe more than his poetic aspirations.
The authentications of witnesses spanning from 1976 to 1996, travels through three continents depicting the oddities and escapades of Lima and Belano encompassing an enormous second section. It gets irksome at time since most of the characters and testimonies overlap at regular intervals.
2.Clear-cut clues can be deceptive. Therefore locate veiled clues, segregate them and analyze them individually to deduce the answer.
Who are these Visceral realists? A semi-mythic vague literary antiestablishment of youthful, muddled and oversexed poets with a purist school of thought raging against Mexico’s dominant political monopoly over literature.
Cesárea Tinajero,an avant-garde elusive poet whose enigmatic works and illusionary poetry mesmerized the visceral realists bequeathing a god-like status. The book concludes in the arid dunes of Sonora desert casting a menacing gloom that creeps throughout the pages.
3.Think outside the box. What is easily perceived may be a futile termination.
It is an elegy of a dying art. Poetry is on the verge of literary oblivion. A constricted yet revolutionary form of prose over years has failed to garner appreciation at large. Bolano himself clarified his move to writing fiction from poetry as he felt responsible to financially securing his family. The eccentric and adventurous portrayal of Lima and Belano espoused the ordeal of poetic realism in a politically charged milieu and ideas that flutter from the minds of desperate adolescent readers.
“O Captain!My captain”. Be wise not stupid, says John Keating in ‘Dead Poets Society’. Ever wondered what happened to the group after graduation? Every youthful aspiration fades in time. The secret societies, drama clubs at schools, literary cliques at the universities disintegrates when the desperate intellect dissolves in monetary overtures Youth is defrauding. Yes it is indeed! It nurtures delusions of power, pompous self-assuring probabilities of achieving the impossible and spurning a web of reckless endeavors that seem utterly tempting. It is a phase to be fearless with i-give- a-damn-to-authoritative fuckers-and-screw-fucking-rules stance. And we still crave it.
"The whole visceral realist thing was a love letter, the demented strutting of a dumb bird in the moonlight, something essentially cheap and meaningless."
Well-oiled grey cells.
Patience and adherence to Bolano’s flurry of intertwined mysteries.
If overwhelmed with Part II of the volume either hurl choicest abuses whilst gaping at the book or a caffeine overdose. Both seem to work fairly well.
Meticulously follow Juan Garcia Madero. Overlooking a couple incidents in between would not hurt either. Who said there were rules to read a book? The only way to decipher a Bolano cryptogram is to stalk the grungy, over-sexed character all the way through the plot for the bozo will certainly get fucked where it hurts the most.
The "visceral realist" movement was founded by poets, but was never about poetry—more about romance and youthful infatuation. Its few members were avid readers, mostly, some not—some are writers, most are not. It was the movement of youth against privilege and against their entrapment in an unfair, dangerous life, sprinkled with sex and drugs, and illness, and, in most cases impoverishment. It is a mixture of desert dullness and hot-blooded drama. This serious movement was not taken seriously, which surprised no one. It was mostly forgotten, if ever known, scorned by most, forsaken—until the mythic poetic movement becomes the project of some pitiful graduate student, who may be the interviewer in Part II, but maybe not. The whole thing may have started because a women spent several days hiding from a militia in a public restroom, and who later published a work of “visual” poetry, which led me to consider a movement that begins with a spelling error. Just a crazy thought. Such are the strange threads in this wonderful, frustrating at times, messy, concise, gold nugget ridden, ride of a novel. Several times, the depth of Bolano's observations truly dazzled.
The book propels forward with a sort of urgency, yet no one hurries. They have a goal, but no schedule. Mexicans, Bolano writes, have lots of time. I'm no expert, but the novel delivers the perfume of Latin America's modern culture. It was Bolaro's love letter to Mexico, someone said.
On a personal note, the plots and sub-plots, if you can call them that, brought peace to the frustration I've always felt with cultures where tardiness and lies are often dealt with acceptance and an over abundance of tolerance. I fear that had I lived in Mexico, I'd be in jail for murder, several times over, so annoyed am I by bold faced lying and irresponsibility. This is a novel that can change you.
A few years ago, I spent weeks living in a tent in the Chihuahuan Desert. I know the jarring ride of dilapidated trucks on hard, rutted dirt roads with only a scrubby desert in sight. I've visited small, idle, bored, Mexican villages, and one of the larger cities (but not Mexico City). The novel swirled these tactical memories, then added voices from the hearts of say, a dozen characters, to melt my own, and bring peace to my understanding of a culture that thrives in harsh conditions, with a continually harsh past and likely future history, yet, its writers create poetry on their own, unique path of humanity.more
It's an opening with a lot of promise. Who are the visceral realists? Why have they extended this invitation to the narrator? Why was he so eager to accept, and what will be the ramifications?
And yet, the book, for the most part, fails to follow through on any of this. We do meet most of the visceral realists, but their movement is never explained, probably because almost none of them seem to have any idea what it means, either. The only piece of visceral realist poetry we're actually given is little more than a series of simple line drawings. And our narrator turns out to be almost completely inconsequential to the book itself (in the book's best joke, when we finally meet a scholar who has studied the visceral realists, he has never heard of Juan Garcia Madero, and declares with confidence that he was never a member of the group).
In spite of all this, the book is still a compelling read, abandoning Madero for most of the book to pursue Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, never quite catching up to them. The book is ultimately a series of ghosts: visceral realism, Belano, Lima, and finally Cesarea Tinajero. It's the books' fervent, and ultimately futile, quest to explore and understand these ghosts that gives it its propulsive force.more