Who are these Bolano heroes, his protagonists who roam from place to place, in search of an elusive entity called literature or poetry? And where does this literature actually stay or reside in their lives? Mostly, his wandering modern mendicants are dope addicts, clumsy after having their clumsy hopes dashed to pieces. From one love torn asunder to another fruitless passion, one person after another starts picking up the staggering piece of his or her life only to see it being disordered again. True, their love for poetry put aside, their very lives are quite unpoetical, disordered and junky, fuelled by egalitarian day dreams, unrich, unwise, waste.
But are they not truly emblematic of what literature should actually encompass and stand for? I w'd rather see a writer who struggles with his contradictions than see an established literary seer churn one tome after another and in the spiralling doom of the times, become an establishment figure, looked up to for more valueless lines or disjointed thoughts. An effervescent writer must not spark always but show us the full essence of the whimpering pathos of his art for only in failure does true creativity reach fever pitch. However, with their lecture tours and printed editions, with endless reviews and critical acclaim, the fault lines expand and widen the gulf between the source and the receiver, till with the passage of time, their accumulated works assume the finality of myth.
Bolano's heroes are not to be searched for in an opium den in a Latin American banana republic alone. His heroes are not mythical but made of real flesh and blood for their very caprices and selfish loves and needless hates and bad writing and literary loves are our own too. They belong not to some pantheon of exalted Sisyphean or Ulyssean club but to the crumbling literature of our modern cities and towns, crumbling because their voices are not actually captured in their true colours. The death of the hero is not the objective nor his salvation through his passing through a painful purgatory. His or her passage is through the crumbling edifice of life itself and his or her literary passions and occasionally deluded love of writing or writers passes through the self aware passage of his own literary mortality, build up on the countless ghosts of self aware seers of the present age.
The Savage Detectives of Bolano are the true literary inheritors of the present times for they have come to terms with the reality of literary failure, the inability, in its true essence to have true literature at present. Literature is not only about writing a few great lines or churn metaphysical melancholy nor is it just to highlight a few political inequalities. It must ultimately re-establish with the average reader and the potential reader the ferment of the air, which is only possible if the main tragedians are not true tragedians but unwilling sacrificial tools. For the unharmonious exit of most Bolano heroes from our pages and their unwelcome entries are as dull and spectacularly brief as the average life around us is. For the hero who dumps the blond girl nearing her pregnancy with an odd few lines or the travelling poets who search for some savage utopia in some savage desert or another modern wasteland are the symbols of our post-capitalist literary times.
Since love is an impossibility and poetry is all together impossible and a great novel is not possible too, the reader must make sense of his or her world through these half crazed literary lunatics, who in previously lived half lives in poor quarters of various cities, where they had written elegies and odes and ditties and ballads and love songs have in the final climactic crazed moments of their lives only succeeded in making an elegy of their own lives. Their success is only in their failure, failure because in these times literature is just a paltry tool to express nothing and success because their lives have culminated at the edges of faraway towns, in isolated beaches where bloated bodies have washed ashore, in city morgues where unidentified bodies lie unclaimed, in certain universities where some, who got lucky have survived and are reconciled to a post love post literary existence.