The Savage Detectives

  • by Roberto Bolaño
  • Narrated by Eddie Lopez, Armando Durán
  • 27 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

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What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

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.
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- Rebecca Lindroos "Book Bug"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-06-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.