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The Savage Detectives

A Novel
Durée : 26 h et 57 min
3 out of 5 stars (1 notation)
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A history of Mexican "Visceral Realism" poetry? First-person accounts of the wild, promiscuous literary world of the 1970s? Or maybe it's simply a high-minded travelogue, stopping off in places like Mexico City, Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, Tel Aviv, Angola, and Liberia? Or is it a post-modern mystery? Or perhaps just a long, drawn-out, sometimes-riveting, other-times-maddening practical joke?

Confused? Exhilarated? A little of both? Welcome to the world of Roberto Bolaño, the late, great Chilean novelist whose popularity continues to rise despite his untimely death in 2003 at the age of 50.

For many Bolaño fans, especially in this country, all the excitement started here with The Savage Detectives, a sprawling, sexy, melancholy, kinetic, kaleidoscopic frenzy that clocks in at over 27 hours. First off, this is not a detective book. So if you're looking for a straightforward whodunit, look elsewhere. The only detective here is the listener, who must carefully follow along as Bolaño's novel takes one unlikely twist and turn after another.

Fans of Haruki Murakami and Thomas Pynchon will love Bolaño's literary acrobatics. On a literal level, The Savage Detectives is simply a series of first-person monologues delivered by dozens of different people. At first, the novel's focus seems unclear. But gradually, the plot begins to revolve around two "poets" (although some characters say they're nothing more than glorified drug dealers) who revive a branch of poetry called Visceral Realism: Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano, who may (or may not) be the author's adventurous alter ego. Some characters know both men well. Others have brief encounters with them that last only days or hours. Some characters love or revere them. Others dismiss them as crackpots or lunatics. This multi-faceted narrative paints a vivid portrait of both men. And yet, the more we learn about them, the more mysterious they become.

The audiobook (with text translated from Spanish into English) features two readers. Eddie Lopez performs the part of a precocious college student who initially appears to be the novel's sole narrator. But roughly a quarter of the way into the book, Armando Durán brings to life a choir of voices spanning several decades and continents. Durán deserves a gold medal for this amazing feat, making each monologue sound distinct and believable, no matter the accent, age, gender, or mood of the speaker.

Getting into the chaotic rhythm of The Savage Detectives may take some time to adjust to for some listeners. But once you're tuned in, you'll experience one of the most thrilling, satisfying literary rides of your life. —Ken Ross

Description

The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has been called the García Marquez of his generation. The Savage Detectives is a hilarious and sexy, meandering and melancholy, companionable and complicated road trip through Mexico City, Barcelona, Israel, Liberia, and finally the desert of northern Mexico. It is the first of Bolaño's two giant works, with 2666, to be translated into English and is already being hailed as a masterpiece.
©2007 Translation by Natasha Wimmer (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critiques

"Wildly enjoyable . . . Bolano beautifully manages to keep his comedy and his pathos in the same family." ( The New York Times Book Review)
" The Savage Detectives is deeply satisfying. . . . Bolano's book throws down a great, clunking, formal gauntlet to his readers' conventional expectations. . . . A very good novel." (Thomas McGonigle, Los Angeles Times)
"An instant cult hit among readers and practically a fetish object to critics." ( Time)

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecca Lindroos
  • 06/12/2009

Started slow but ended great

I really did NOT like this book for the first 90 minutes or so - Part I. But then the narrator changed from the sex-crazed, 17 year-old, wanna-be Visceral Realist poet to an older man and the stories of people who knew Arturo and Ulisses, Visceral Realists. This was much better than the first part and drew me in regularly. The third part goes back to the 17 year-old again, but he and Aruturo and Ulisses are seeking Cesarea Tinajero, the original Visceral Realist. The book just grew and grew on me and in the end I really didn't want it to end.
I didn't notice any pronunciation errors - I thought the narration was excellent.

15 sur 17 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • P. Bowen
  • 15/01/2014

Great listen

If you could sum up The Savage Detectives in three words, what would they be?

I've read Bolano, but I think his novels work even better read out loud. The long lists of esoteric knowledge, the rambling thoughts and literary analysis, and the internal observations flow beautifully when read.

4 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Devon
  • 04/01/2010

Amazing experience

The story is told by large cast of characters who seem to be responding verbally to questions about two poets, a Mexican and a Chilean. But somehow, these two end up seeming mythical and insubstantial while the supporting characters become full blown companions through their unique voices telling stories combining the mundane and bizarre. A latticework of detail is provided (You always know the date and place of a narration.), but motivation almost always remains mysterious. By some inexplicable means, the narrative tension is sustained through many adventures in Mexico City and Europe.
The readers are absolutely great. I'm sure that their good pronunciation of Spanish words (as well as German and even Latin) and the excellent definition of the characters through their voices and accents made this novel a much greater pleasure to listen to than it would have been to read in print.

9 sur 11 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • 14/11/2014

Bolaño Poetic Gyre

This is a book that is nearly impossible to review, absolutely impossible to summarize, and simultaneously amazing and frustrating. Bolaño created a novel and a narrative that (IMHO) attempted to capture the energy, the personalities, the youth and the mortar that held together Mexican and Latin American poets during the mid-1970s. It feels like he took every poetic image, idea, stray hair and paper from every Mexican poet during the past forty years and laid them all down on black velvet to be examined. He found poetry in the "visceral realists" excesses and his semi-autobiographical confessions. Bolaño jumps from chapter-to-chapter, from scene-to-scene, from sunset-to-sunset and keeps reinventing his PoMo novel as he writes it.

I have to be fair. It wasn't my favorite novel, but it seems the most likely (of all the novels I've read these last two or three years) to suddenly become animated. If any novel is going to jump off my lap, and wander off into the wilderness -- this is the one. It seems to be written not just in ink, but in blood, tears, seed, and fire.

It someways it reminds me of the beginning of Yeat's poem 'Second Coming':

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

With Roberto Bolaño the center of this gyre is Mexico City and with each page he writes (forward and back in time) Bolaño seems to be adding potential energy to the explosion that will loose his mad, Mexican poets, these thieves and dealers, these visceral realists, around the world. As I chew on this image, I think the idea of vortexes and gyres is equally applicable to ALL poets. It captures the way creativity often explodes, demands to be exposed, and drives before its flood chariots of innocence, creativity and youth.

19 sur 25 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecarol
  • 13/05/2010

Read Don't Listen

Some books are better read than listened to....and after listening to this extremely long book not once but twice, I have to say this is one of them. "The Savage Detectives" is a high-end tour-de-force, includes the testimony of so many characters and the thread of enough lives and stories that it warrants a careful reading vs. a thorough listening to or two, as in my case. After my first listening, much escaped me and 2/3 of the way through I had put so much time into the book I was determined to finish it but felt it was a slog. However, the book ends so beautifully, I was replenished and decided that now that I had half the threads, I would listen to it again. And that was worth doing too as I was then able to distinguish characters/voices and weave together the books threads all the better.

The book is exactly that -- very "writerly" so having the actors read what is supposed to be written testimony at times comes across as contrived, and the first narrator initially irritated me to no end because, despite the actor's surname (Lopez) he sounded like a WASP. Didn't bother me as much the second time around as I was used to it. The second narrator covers so many voices it's incredible, and his voice is much more authentic but again having the same actor cover gosh...at least 15 voices that are written in style of testimony is difficult.

Parts of the book are quite beautiful, parts are tedious, the author treats his central poet characters as almost messianic which translates as a bit self-indulgent. There is a very gratuitous stinky vagina scene that's bothersome, but then some wonderful international scenes and the actual detection --there is that as the poets trace a phantom like female poet from a generation before these is extremely well-executed.

If you have time to listen to a very long book twice, give it a shot. Impossible to swallow in one listening. This is worth reading,but best suited for the printed page.

13 sur 17 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 04/02/2013

Best Story About Poets Ever

Would you listen to The Savage Detectives again? Why?

This is one the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. The performances by the duel narrators worked brilliantly together. The first, Eddie Lopez, captures the youthful story that bookends the sad, romantic journey that comprises the bulk of the novel. This is great literature and great entertainment. This is either the most poetic novel I have ever come across or the best narrative epic poem of the last 100 years.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Savage Detectives?

Too many to count. The sojourns to Israel and Africa were fascinating and disturbing.

What about Eddie Lopez and Armando Durán ’s performance did you like?

It was unconventional, yet worked. His narration was natural and unaffected. He was able to deliver the romance and sadness of youth.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The best book about literature since Ulysses.

Any additional comments?

I said before that this is one of the best listens I have come across. Until it is knocked from its perch, I will call it the best. Can't wait to listen to Bolano's 2066.

1 sur 1 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 18/09/2009

Mispronunciation

The writing is wonderful and the book is certainly compelling, but this audiobook is very poorly produced. The reader's consistent and glaring mispronunciation of Spanish words -- names in particular -- is extremely distracting. Was there no research? I am very disappointed.

14 sur 27 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Vlad Ilin
  • 13/04/2018

Not an easy listen. Possibly a decent read... but not going back there.

Do you like tedious disconnected rambling? Do you like stories that some grandpa tells you when he doses half way through it? Well this is a book for you.

1. Chapter One summary: i read and wrote for 8 hours in a cafe in Mexico city. Looked for my poet friends didn’t find them got horny thoughts of maria but went to my girlfriends.

2. Chapter Two summary: speaker 1: and one time in band camp. Speaker 2: the soldiers were coming... speaker 3: when i was a young lad.

That’s where i am so far. With 18 hours to go i may just give up

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JZMW
  • 08/07/2017

Bolaño gets another great treatment

Bolaño writes a modern classic and gets a perfectly suited reading from two readers who truly make it work better than one should or would expect. More readers could have made the middle section pop a bit more but at the same time that can be very jarring and very risky. In the end, I am more than glad they went the route they did and picked these two talents to bring this to audio format.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jack
  • 17/03/2017

A Year Well-Spent

I listened to this for a year on various road trips, and unlike most books like it, I can say with confidence that it never wore old, became tired, or caused me any difficulty coming back after a month away. The book's style makes it perfect for this - Especially in Part II, it's more of a space to get lost in than a coherent narrative! The prose in this translation is gorgeous, and it's gorgeously performed by both readers. It was heartbreaking to reach the end today, like having to move homes or abandon a new friend! Highly recommended for readers who like dense modern fiction, Bolaño is well en par with the likes of DFW, Pynchon, and DeLillo (who gets a name check!) here, swimming in characters and perspectives and streams of consciousness to achieve an incredible maximalist masterpiece.