the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

the savage detectives

In books on July 8, 2009 at 10:31 am


roberto bolano’s novel, following the “visceral realist” poets arturo belano and ulises lima, relies on the stories of more than two dozen narrators. the result is an inventive, if incomplete, biography of the dream of eternal youth. it ends up drawing a more complete picture of its narrators and the places they describe—mexico city, spain, tel aviv—than the poets they try to explain. “visceral realism,” like imagined cities and civilizations scrawled out in a notebook during a middle school social studies class, is both a joke and a revelation upon reflection. and bolano’s novel captures, in both its broad narrative strokes and its smallest details, this flawed but liberating innocence of creating something we think is truly original.


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