The Savage Detectives
One of the main drivers in The Savage Detectives is legend. Chasing a legend leads to exposure, and by interaction, causes destruction, and then, apparently, re-creation of mysteries for others to chase.
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.