Liesl Schillinger reviewed “The Spirit of Science Fiction,” by Roberto Bolaño for the most recent issue of the Book Review. In 2007, the literary critic James Wood meditated on the Chilean author’s legacy in a review of the English translation of Bolaño’s “The Savage Detectives.” Below is an excerpt.
Over the last few years, Roberto Bolaño’s reputation, in English at least, has been spreading in a quiet contagion; the loud arrival of a long novel, “The Savage Detectives,” will ensure that few are now untouched. Until recently there was even something a little Masonic about the way Bolaño’s name was passed along between readers in this country; I owe my awareness of him to a friend who excitedly lent me a now never-to-be-returned copy of Bolaño’s extraordinary novella “By Night in Chile.” This wonderfully strange Chilean imaginer, at once a grounded realist and a lyricist of the speculative, who died in 2003 at the age of 50, has been acknowledged for a few years now in the Spanish-speaking world as one of the greatest and most influential modern writers. Those without Spanish have had to rely on the loyal intermittence of translation, beginning with “By Night in Chile” (2003), two more short novels — “Distant Star” (2004) and “Amulet” (2007) — and a book of stories, “Last Evenings on Earth” (2006), all translated by Chris Andrews and published by New Directions.
Much of the most successfully daring postwar fiction has been by writers committed to the long dramatic sentence (Bohumil Hrabal, Thomas Bernhard, W.G. Sebald, José Saramago). Bolaño is in their company: the quotation here is broken off of a phrase that takes about a page in the book. The musical control is impeccable, and one is struck by Bolaño’s ability to nudge on his long, light, ethereal sentence — impossibly, like someone punting a leaf — image by image: the falcon, the red hue, the sunset, the dawn, the dawn seen from a plane, the femoral artery, the blood vessel, the abstract painter. It could so easily be too much, and somehow isn’t, the flight of fancy anchored by precision and a just-suppressed comedy. (In Spain, amusingly, the falcons are too old or docile for killing, and the priests have none of the dangerous elegance of their French or Italian counterparts.) Likewise, this fantasia about falcons in every European city might have been thuddingly allegorical or irritatingly whimsical, and isn’t. It is comically plausible, and concretely evoked; the surrealism lies in the systematic elaboration of the image. The Catholic Church is likened to a bird of prey, murderous and blood-red in its second capital, Avignon, and we are free to link this, without coercion, to the Chilean situation and the ethical somnolence of Father Urrutia.
“The Savage Detectives” was published in 1998, but its heart belongs to the Mexico City of the mid-1970s, when Bolaño was an avant-garde poet bristling with mad agendas. Like much of his work, the novel is craftily autobiographical. Its first section is narrated in the form of a diary, by a 17-year-old poet named Juan García Madero who is on the make, erotically and poetically, and who has been asked to join a gang of literary guerrillas who have named themselves the “visceral realists.” The group is led by two young poets, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, a wild duo who appear elsewhere in Bolaño’s work (in “Amulet,” for instance). Lima is based on one of Bolaño’s friends, the poet Mario Santiago, and Belano is based on … Bolaño. Literature in Spanish and Portuguese, from Fernando Pessoa to Javier Cercas, from Cortázar to Borges, seems especially infatuated with alter egos. (José Saramago wrote an entire novel, and a great one too, “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis,” with one of Pessoa’s authorial stand-ins, Ricardo Reis, as its protagonist.)
A novel all about poetry and poets, one of whose heroes is a lightly disguised version of the author himself: how easily this could be nothing more than a precious lattice of ludic narcissism and unbearably “literary” adventures! Again, Bolaño skirts danger and then gleefully accelerates away from it. The novel is wildly enjoyable (as well as, finally, full of lament), in part because Bolaño, despite all the game-playing, has a worldly, literal sensibility. His atmospheres are solidly imagined, but the tone is breezy and colloquial and amazingly unliterary.
Read the entire review here.B:
17年跑狗图【场】【面】【顿】【时】【变】【得】【十】【分】【安】【静】，【几】【十】【个】【人】【鸦】【雀】【无】【声】【的】【看】【着】【三】【长】【老】，【那】【可】【怜】【兮】【兮】【的】【模】【样】【就】【好】【像】【做】【错】【了】【事】【的】【小】【孩】【子】。 “【刚】【才】【就】【你】【咋】【呼】【的】【最】【欢】，【我】【问】【你】【谁】【告】【诉】【你】【说】【道】【天】【宗】【要】【把】【你】【们】【赶】【走】【的】？”【三】【长】【老】【一】【指】**，【脸】【色】【要】【多】【难】【看】【就】【有】【多】【难】【看】。 “【那】【个】……【听】【说】，【所】【以】……”**【期】【期】【艾】【艾】【的】【说】【道】。 “【听】【说】【个】【屁】，【听】【说】【能】【当】【饭】
【钱】【多】【了】【不】【起】【嘛】？ 【有】【的】【时】【候】【事】【实】【告】【诉】【我】【们】【钱】【多】【真】【的】【了】【不】【起】。 【至】【少】【收】【购】【文】【创】【娱】【乐】【的】【计】【划】【就】【因】【为】【钱】【没】【有】【岁】【夕】【多】【而】【导】【致】【胎】【死】【腹】【中】。 “【其】【实】【我】【们】【也】【没】【必】【要】【收】【购】，【哥】【你】【可】【以】【直】【接】【提】【醒】【岁】【夕】，【让】【她】【不】【要】【投】【资】【马】【道】【学】【的】【电】【影】【就】【好】【了】。” 【结】【账】【的】【时】【候】，【凉】【凉】【一】【边】【放】【东】【西】，【一】【边】【建】【议】【道】。 “【我】【就】【怕】【岁】【夕】【又】【领】【悟】【错】【了】【意】【思】，
“【怎】【么】【动】【了】【手】【脚】？” 【那】【些】【人】【在】【处】【理】【那】【些】【土】【的】【时】【候】，【都】【有】【他】【们】【自】【家】【人】【在】【监】【管】【着】。 【怎】【么】【可】【能】【会】【出】【现】【那】【种】【严】【重】【的】【疏】【忽】？ “【我】【看】【分】【明】【就】【是】【这】【村】【子】【的】【人】【不】【老】【实】，【上】【次】【卖】【给】【我】【们】【的】【土】【直】【接】【拿】【一】【些】【质】【量】【最】【差】【的】。” 【这】【一】【次】【他】【们】【在】【这】【里】【买】，【到】【时】【候】【他】【们】【直】【接】【到】【他】【们】【挖】【土】【的】【现】【场】【去】【指】【挥】【他】【们】【看】【中】【的】【土】【葬】，【村】【子】【里】【面】【的】【人】【给】【他】17年跑狗图【雁】【儿】【领】【命】【之】【后】，【立】【即】【上】【前】【扶】【着】【我】【就】【往】【院】【门】【里】【面】【走】，【虽】【然】【雁】【儿】【还】【是】【我】【的】【雁】【儿】，【大】【哥】【也】【还】【是】【我】【的】【大】【哥】，【可】【是】【我】【怎】【么】【就】【觉】【得】【这】【其】【中】【有】【什】【么】【不】【对】【劲】【儿】【的】【呢】？【一】【直】【到】【回】【了】【房】【里】，【雁】【儿】【服】【侍】【我】【更】【衣】【梳】【洗】，【最】【后】【躺】【在】【床】【上】，【我】【才】【恍】【然】【大】【悟】【过】【来】，【雁】【儿】【是】【我】【的】【丫】【头】，【她】【不】【是】【应】【该】【听】【命】【于】【我】【吗】？【虽】【然】【大】【哥】【是】【大】【少】【爷】，【但】【我】【是】【她】【的】【小】【姐】，【然】【而】【回】
【胡】【静】【皱】【了】【皱】【眉】，【竟】【然】【有】【这】【么】【丑】【的】【男】【人】【挡】【着】【她】【的】【道】。 “【你】【来】【了】。”【程】【浩】【说】【道】。 【胡】【静】【一】【把】【推】【开】【了】【鼠】【头】，【向】【程】【浩】【走】【过】【去】。 “【我】【今】【天】【来】【是】【为】【了】【请】【你】【帮】【忙】。”【胡】【静】【道】。 “【说】【吧】！【什】【么】【事】。” “【帮】【我】【找】【到】【胡】【家】【失】【踪】【的】【私】【生】【子】。”【胡】【静】【坐】【在】【沙】【发】【上】，【黑】【丝】【美】【腿】【翘】【着】【二】【郎】【腿】【说】【道】。 “【哦】？【看】【来】【你】【们】【家】【族】【内】【部】【还】【挺】
。 【昀】【华】【一】【到】【晚】【上】，【就】【将】【红】【莲】【放】【出】【来】。 【红】【莲】【跟】【她】【差】【不】【多】【高】，【看】【起】【来】【已】【经】【不】【像】【小】【孩】【子】【了】。 【因】【为】【红】【莲】【是】【火】【属】【性】【的】，【所】【以】【他】【的】【灵】【力】【直】【接】【幻】【化】【成】【鲜】【红】【色】【的】【衣】【服】。 【这】【一】【点】【跟】【喜】【欢】【红】【色】【的】【凤】【抟】【九】【有】【的】【一】【拼】。 “【你】【还】【是】【魔】【修】【吧】，【这】【样】【晋】【级】【的】【快】【一】【点】，”【梼】【杌】【苦】【口】【婆】【心】【的】【说】【道】。 “【我】【不】【想】【这】【么】【早】【魔】【化】，【我】【喜】【欢】【光】，
【颜】【沫】【是】【什】【么】【人】？【她】【这】【个】【人】，【还】【真】【的】【就】【没】【怕】【过】【什】【么】【事】！ “【娴】【妃】【娘】【娘】【这】【说】【得】【是】【什】【么】【话】，【臣】【一】【直】【都】【以】【为】，【宫】【中】【的】【娘】【娘】，【都】【是】【整】【个】【京】【城】【的】【贵】【女】【典】【范】，【看】【来】【并】【非】【如】【此】【啊】！” “【你】【说】【什】【么】！？”【夏】【紫】【怡】【一】【辈】【子】【都】【没】【听】【到】【过】【别】【人】【这】【么】【说】【她】，【脸】【色】【不】【由】【得】【变】【了】。 “【说】【什】【么】？”【颜】【沫】【轻】【抿】【了】【一】【口】【茶】，【冷】【眼】【看】【她】，【道】：“【说】【你】【不】【懂】