Thursday, April 24, 2008
The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolano (a review)
2 out of 5: This book tracks a handful of young, Latin American poets and their cohorts around the world and through time from the 1970s to the 1990s. Widely hailed by critics, The Savage Detectives has developed a devoted following among literary snobs. After suffering through all 500+ pages, I’m not ashamed to say I don’t get the hype. I think people feel the need to praise this book because it’s difficult, unusual, translated, and genre-defying. It must be important and intelligent, right? Really, it’s just self-indulgent and sloppy. There’s very little narrative or character development to sustain the reader’s interest. Instead of substance, the book is clogged with obscure poetry terms, small Mexican towns, down-and-out poets, and other annoying things that will leave many wondering “why bother?” I’m giving this book 1 point for its exhaustive use of an interesting structure, ½ point for some entertaining subplots and engaging characters, and ½ point for its overall hip tone, for a grand total of 2 points out of 5.