The Savage Detectives Paperback – Unabridged, 4 Jul 2008
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'A sprawling treasure.' -- Observer Observer
'It is immensely cheering to read a book that celebrates life and, as something inseparable from it, literature.'
-- Daily Telegraph
`The novel is . . . one of the most original you are likely to read this year.' -- Sunday Times
An exhilarating, must-read novel from one of Latin America’s pre-eminent writers, and author of the acclaimed masterpiece 2666.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a riotous start that introduces us to a huge cast list of characters. Important amongst them are Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, the leaders of the visceral realist movement. Belano functions as an an alter-ego of the author, whilst his compadre has a name which on its own conjures up the work of James Joyce and that original Greek odyssey. That love of books I mentioned earlier is shown here firstly by the theft these young poets indulge in from local bookstores, an act which is not so much motivated by their politics as by their poverty, and also in the production of their own magazine, Lee Harvey Oswald, a name at once political and yet ridiculous.Read more ›
It is pointless going over old ground but suffice to say there are three very distinct sections. Everyone, me included, seems to stay with the first section which has a 'Diary' narrative structure following the lives and loves of the Visceral Realists in 1970's Mexico City. We get to know the lead characters of this avant-garde, student world where they all do the usual things that students do the world over.
The real killer with this book is the seemingly enless second section. A total change of style. Countless witness testimonies of the lives of Ulysses Lima and Arturo Bollano over a twenty year span into the 1990's given by totally new characters. Is this autobiographical? One 'witness' recalls 'Everything to do with Arturo bored me to tears'. Well, you're not going to get an argument from me!
For the few brave souls who survive and make it to the shortish final section, there is disappointment. This section is quite simply poor. I only kept going due to my miserly Yorksire roots which demanded I get my money's worth from the very good audio narrator.
There are parts of this book which are very well written (two stars, not one) but wow did this need editing! It is not acceptable to simply list page after page of names of poets and artists nor to list them all again followed by a sexual insult. The author indulges himself and the end result is a dog's breakfast.
The bad news is that Bolano died in Blanes a couple of years ago, aged only 50. The good news is that there is quite a lot of his other stories, either translated or in translation.
Death to Magical Realism! We're all Visceral Realists now!
Reviews of the book state the depth of internal comedy/parody latent within the novel. I disagree. I consider Bolano to be that rare talent that shakes one's complacency, forcing a reappraisal of what constitutes an intelligent read. What you get is a snapshot of a grunting, breathing, vital Mexico, peopled with flawed characters, whose interactions with others are chaotic, touching and memorable.
If you want a challenging read, with beautiful prose, then read this and Bolano's other works. Excellent stuff.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beginning in Mexico City and then extending around the globe, we follow the literary quest of two underground poets. Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2014 by Patrick CT
I am sure this book is very clever...and perhaps I am just not clever enough to appreciate it, but it just goes on, and on, and on, and on...and does not seem to get anywhere. Read morePublished on 30 Sept. 2013 by Keith Andreetti
The book was first published in 1998 and turned Bolaño into a cult writer.
I was looking forward to it after being impressed by "The Third Reich", one of... Read more
Savage tecs is epic, one of the best books I've read in the last five years. I love the way the diary entries only last for 120 pages and then Bolano throws you into a different... Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 2012 by Eisen Stein
I can understand the hugely varying reviews on this one. The book starts off okay - one reviewer felt the book was for men, I understand why that was said as the first part is... Read morePublished on 6 Dec. 2011 by pigsmayfly
The Savage Detectives is a unique and exhilarating book, well worth reading despite its excessive length. Read morePublished on 5 Sept. 2011 by Samir Okasha
Ultimately a novel that promises much but delivers little. The book is a literary labyrinth with no exit, that leads no where. Read morePublished on 15 July 2011 by DRFP