Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Roberto Bolano: The Savage Detectives

Claire Buckland reviews Roberto Bolaño's "The Savage Detectives".
Translated into English for the first time, the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño’s prize-winning book portrays a lost generation. It opens in Mexico City in 1975 with the diary of Juan García Madero, a 17-year-old devotee of the “visceral-realist” movement championed by fictional poets Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima.

The visceral realists spend their time reading, stealing and destroying books – and posturing outrageously: according to a gay friend of Juan’s, “novels, in general, were heterosexual, whereas poetry was completely homosexual”.

Juan’s own writing is self-regarding, exuberant, naïve and charged with possibilities. The diary ends when Juan, Belano, Lima and a runaway prostitute set out on a road trip to trace the last recorded journey of a 1920s poet.

Bolaño’s intense monologues fragment into a series of interviews with just about anyone who came into contact with Lima and Belano between 1976 and 1996.
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