Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I Gave Up on "The Savage Detectives"

I eagerly picked up Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives a few months ago, hoping for a repeat of the great experience I had reading his 2666. However, after ripping through about 150 pages, the book went onto my nightstand and laid there, forgotten. Having recently given up ever picking it up again, I came up with three reasons why I wasn't interested in in anymore:
  1. I didn't connect with any of the characters. I also had this problem with 2666, but their stories were so fascinating it didn't matter. Here, I found the characters to be less interesting, their stories less compelling, and the events occurring to them to be more random and unbelievable (amazing, considering all of the random things that occurred in 2666).
  2. After reading 2666, I know the types of devices that  Bolaño uses in his writing. I'm not sure if exposure to them didn't make them as effective the second time around or if they were just done better in 2666 than in The Savage Detectives.
  3. I thought  The Savage Detectives had too many characters to keep straight. That may be part of  Bolaño's point - there are a lot of random people involved in and on the fringes of the smallest literary movements - but not only did I have a hard time keeping a lot of them straight, I didn't even care about them. 
Have you read The Savage Detectives or  Bolaño's other works? Any insight you'd care to share with me about why I found it less compelling than 2666? Any of his other books that I might like better? 


Joel said...

Have you tried reading any of his shorter novels? I highly recommend The Skating Rink as an introduction to this side of Bolano.

gibsonmeigs said...

2666 is the only novel of his that I've read. I've enjoyed several of his short stories, in particular one called "The Return" published in Harpers that blew me away. I have to say that i'll need some time to build up my desire to try any more of his writing, although when I do, i'll give The Skating Rink a go. What about in particular did you like and felt that put it in the same side as The Savage Detectives?