Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bolano - why I love it - why it won't sell (or maybe it will)

Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives is still bloody brilliant, despite the fact I'm taking my time over it.

Having initially predicted massive sales I now have to step back slightly...I love it, but then it is about a bunch of madcap poets/writers. (I just read one of his short stories from Last Evenings on Earth - a collection just published by Harvill/Secker. It concerned two writers who corresponded. They would let each other know about provincial writing competitions they came across. They would enter in the hope of winning some prize money. Soon they were entering the same stories in several competitions, sometimes winning several prizes with the same story. There is obviously a theme emerging - Bolano writes about what he knows!) Just about everyone in the book is involved with books in some way. I obviously live in a little bubble where most of the folk I come into contact with are book fanatics - out there in the wider world there are other things that (quite rightly) concern people. I also think the Savage Detectives is a book that demands concentration and time - once again how many people really want to spend large slabs of time reading and concentrating hard. Having said all that it still could sell loads of copies and just sit around on coffee tables looking like it has been read, the fate of huge swathes of literary fiction I suspect...

David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero, the first in a trilogy, is another matter.

I love David Peace's writing and recently made the bold statement that he was among the finest writers working in the UK today. I have a proof of Tokyo at home. I was avoiding starting it 'cos I'm still immersed in Bolano but last night I thought I would take a peek.


How many writers can grab you by the throat with such delicious savagery? This isn't prose we're talking about it's something new, somewhere between poetry and prose and pure, hearing voices, madness. Terrifying. Superb.

It will sell in massive quantities because folk just will not be able to resist it...

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