Sunday, May 9, 2010

The SAVAGE DETECTIVES - Roberto Bolano ( trans- Natasha Wimmer)

"The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason that they honour life, because it brings them against its most formidable weapons". Nietzche (T.O.T.I)

" The Visceral Realists are meteorites, streaking through the sky,radiating impending doom".
Gustavo .E. Raynal.

This novel tells the tale of the two leaders (Ulises Lima & Aturo Belano) of a group of poets called   "The Visceral Realists" & their search for the poet Cesarea Tinajero, the mother of visceral realism, whose existence is almost mythical & open to question. Having left little if any works of poetry Cesarea Tinajero only appears to exist in the stories & praise of those who claim to know her.

     "Night was falling over Mexico City & Cesarea was laughing like
      a ghost". R.B.

It is told in 3 sections, the first "Mexicans lost in Mexico" centres around the diary of Juan Garcia Madero, a 17 year old aspiring poet who is invited to join the Visceral Realists.Although he is uncertain of the movement, Juan becomes  increasingly involved with them & he drops out of university to spend his time wandering the streets & bars of Mexico City with various members of the group.

Part 2 " The Savage Detectives" does not actually start until page 125. It consists of a series of interviews covering around 400 pages, by a cast of poets, painters & thieves, the dregs & individuals living on the periphery of Latin American society, who have come into contact with our heroes (?).
Through this technique we learn what happens to Ulises & Aturo on their quest, which takes them through  North America, Europe & the Middle East.

For the 3rd part " The Deserts of Sonaro" we are back with Juan Garcia Madero as he tells of himself, the two Visceral Realists & a prostitute named Lupe, whom they are trying to save from her pimp, whilst closing in on the quest for Cesarea Tinajero.

"To you, the bold venturers & adventurers, & who-ever has embarked with cunning sails upon dreadful seas, to you who are intoxicated with riddles,who take pleasure in twilight, whose soul is lured with flutes to every treacherous abyss - for you do not desire to feel for a rope with a cowardly hand; and where you can guess to hate to calculate...". Nietzche (E.H.)

This novel spans a couple of decades, crosses continents & dives deep below the underbelly of Latin American society. Its cast of poets, some are thieves - all are victims whether by choice or not - explode across the page to die seconds later, some hang by their fingernails for a while longer before being left in some dingy dive wittering to themselves that they have more to offer. But the tale, as with 
                                life, has left them & moved on.

For an interesting article on Robero Bolano-

1 comment:

Mel u said...

I am thinking about rereading Savage Detectives soon-have you listened to the new podcast of Bolano's short story at The New Yorker?