A very well written and understanding insight into Roberto Bolano's The savage detectives, by Daniel Zalewski in the New Yorker. This critique highlights the essential elements of this novel and the various exigencies that are central to Bolano's writing style and the raison de etre of his oeuvre. Besides offering biographical details, it shows Bolano's mistrust of magic realism and the reasons why and allows us to understand his restored relationship and respect for Borges and Hopscotch (For Bolaño, Cortázar’s moody novel “Hopscotch” was the Beginning and the End, precisely because it has neither a beginning nor an end.) Of course, some calculation lay behind his position. There was one living Latin-American novelist whose avid bookishness and formal cleverness made him the obvious heir to the modernist tradition: Roberto Bolaño.
Titled Vagabonds, this article is one of the best I have read about Bolano so far, as it traces his own life and its various key points and offers a parallel into the key areas of his fiction. Most of his short and long stories deal with Literature, which he he declared, “is the product of a strange rain of blood, sweat, semen, and tears.” When asked by the Mexican edition of Playboy to name his favorite things, he cited “the literature of Borges” and “making love.” He said that the Nobel Prize was typically won by “jerks.” Bolaño played up his hippie past, claiming to have lived for years on “a diet of rice.” Despite the diaspora evoked in “The Savage Detectives,” he rejected the idea that his work was a “literature of exile.” He wrote, “For a true writer, his only homeland is the bookstore.” He still considered himself primarily a poet: “I blush less when I reread my poems.”
This issue of the New Yorker has a short story by Bolano called The insufferable gaucho. There is an interesting comparison between Sebald and Bolano here, along with a few very interesting reviews and critiques about his work in English so far.
I will endeavour to write the second part of my own homage to the Savage detectives soon.