The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (1998)
Updated: May 24, 2021
Savage Detectives is the tale of two misanthropic young poets, and their avant-garde literary movement in Mexico City, told entirely through anecdotes from other characters. Friends, rivals, and random acquaintances weave a conflicted narrative that spans decades and continents where our protagonists are painted at times as comic idiots, delusional criminals, or heroic paragons of artistic truth.
This book reads more like a series of vaguely connected short stories, rather than one contiguous novel, and as such it has its ups and downs. Some of the sections are fascinating/funny/mesmerizing/beautiful and others feel like reading an encyclopedia of Latin American poets. When you’re in the thick of it, it can seem tedious and confusing, but once you finish the novel and step back to take in the whole, the beauty of its structure reveals itself and it all seems to click into place.
Big ups to my Dad for giving me this bad boy!