Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Savage Detectives - Impressions (2)

I wonder how many readers investigate the structure of the books they read before they start with Chapter One? For anyone undertaking Los Detectives Salvajes for the first time, the question of whether or not to suppress this urge to snoop is a matter of more than passing curiosity itself. For the first 15% or so of the novel and the last 15% or so are a series of diary entries by the young Mexican 'visceral realist' Juan Garcia Madero.

The freshness , the likeability of this diarist — perhaps the only true poet in story about poets — is surely a conscious device on the part of the author, aware that the polyphonic middle 70% or so of his novel comprises a multitude of different short narratives delivered by over 50 separate narrators across the two decades from '76 to '96, and that readers anticipating a resumption of Garcia Madero's testimony will experience a kind of extra dramatic impetus through this tangle.

With Kindle editions and audiobooks jumping ahead is of course that much harder. (...and V's usual tactic of starting with the last page becomes highly problematic!) Will the next generation of authors be forced to take this into account?

I think I'm going to start a new regular series on top quality first paragraphs. Bolaño's is as good a place as any to start:

2 de noviembre

He sido cordialmente invitado a formar parte del realismo visceral. Por supuesto, he aceptado. No hubo ceremonia de iniciación. Mejor así.

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