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essentialism, really

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Have recently (finally) started Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives. It’s still early, unfairly so. But just a guess:

Having seem Y tu mama tambien and Amores perros, one is in a very good position to see quickly and clearly what is wrong with Bolaño’s stuff. When one reads Bolaño’s stuff, one is placed in a very good position to see quickly and clearly what was wrong with Y tu mama tambien and Amores perros, which maybe one missed the first time around.

(Sorry, chiastic thinking has taken over from my forehead on back. Taught Joyce last week – hither and thither, thither and hither….)

But I’ll finish it to make sure. And I’ll read the new one too, for good measure. Let’s hope I’m wrong given the time investment in front of me.

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December 15, 2008 at 1:11 am

Posted in novel

8 Responses

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  1. I’ve got to say, I’m thinking the way a person reacts to Bolaño’s directly tied to their feelings about Musil. (And I’m not just saying that because I don’t see the link to Cuarón.) (Unless I am.)


    December 15, 2008 at 6:20 am

  2. Yes! I’ve never been able to get past, you know, the first several thousand pages of Musil – you must be right!

    I feel entertained by it, really entertained. I like going to bed because I get to read it, and I don’t go to sleep at an acceptable hour because I want to keep reading it. But still… There’s lots of things that can keep me up late that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others.

    We’ll see…..


    December 15, 2008 at 8:55 am

  3. Less cryptically, Bolaño’s novels seem to have that (admittedly contradictory) quality of being both a page-turner and occasional. I’m not compelled to read them, but when I do, I can’t put them down. Musil was the same way—his pale shadow, Kundera, not so much—but this seems to exclude Musil and Bolaño both from the modernist category into which they’re so often shoved. This isn’t to say there’s no there there, as the quasi-Lacanian diagrams in the third section of 2666 are worth the price of admission … but I haven’t finished it yet, because in the absence of a driving narrative or a modernist puzzle, I don’t feel compelled to pick it up my every spare moment.


    December 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm

  4. Yeah exactly. It feels captivating for all the wrong reasons. It’s fun to hear true-sounding stories about bohemian sex in a (for gringos) exotic urban locale – just as it’s um, entertaining, to watch a semi-smart movie about high school buddies taking turns with a hot older (but not much older) woman with all that washed out Mexico as backdrop.

    Probably something smart to say about adolescentism and Mexico – problems on both sides of the Rio Grande with this…

    But seriously, I’m going to finish it… Them. I’ve reached the point in my life where I simply can’t have any more enormous hardcover “publication event” novels sitting unread on the “publication event” shelf in the living room. (“Hey, what did you think of the ginormous Pynchon / DeLillo / Wallace / Musil / Mann translation / Bolano / whatever?” “Oh, um, yeah I’m, um, not quite finished yet…”


    December 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm

  5. [resisting urge to crack open 2666 just to look at the quasi-Lacanian diagrams]


    December 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  6. I liked Young Torless; haven’t ever tried Man without Qualities. As someone with very little attention span, I’m here to put in a plug for novellas (particularly if they’re all about sex and domination).

    And what good is a publication event shelf without it being filled with lots of publication event-type books? Come on, you know we don’t have to _read_ something to have some sort of theoretical take on it, so why put all those rules and limitations on the bookshelves?


    December 16, 2008 at 6:18 am

  7. […] recent exchange in the com­ments over at Ads With­out Prod­ucts offers an inter­est­ing sug­ges­tion for […]

  8. […] confess that I would like to get into the habit of keeping up with what AWP calls (in comments to this post) “publication event” novels. Arguably the last one I read was The Corrections — and […]

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