The publication of Los Detectives Salvajes in 1998 was a catalyst in establishing Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s status as a seminal literary voice. It was a sensation in the Spanish-speaking world. It was only in 2007 when the novel was finally translated into and published in English as The Savage Detectives. It immediately gained worldwide recognition, from both literary critics and readers alike. While this recognition might be a little too late for Bolaño, who passed away in 2003, it was nonetheless integral in making him a global literary star. The Savage Detectives, with its labyrinthine narrative, was an unrelenting homage to Latin American literature. It comes as no surprise that the book is highly recommended and is listed on many must-read lists. It was through these must-read lists that I first encountered Bolaño and The Savage Detectives, a book that I adored for its innovative approach to storytelling. It also has a rich language, brimming with memorable lines which I am featuring in this Quotable Quotes post. Happy reading!
Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.
“Pyramids? Yes he said, deep underground there must be lots of pyramids. My father didn’t say anything. From the darkness of the backseat, I asked him why he thought that. He didn’t answer. Then we started to talk about other things but I kept wondering why he’d said that about the pyramids. I kept thinking about pyramids. I kept thinking about my father’s stony plot of land and much later, when I’d lost touch with him, each time I went back to that barren place I thought about the buried pyramids, about the one time I’d seen him riding over the tops of the pyramids, and I imagined him in the hut, when he was left alone and sat there smoking.”~ Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
“In a brief moment of lucidity, I was sure that we’d all gone crazy. But then that moment of lucidity was displaced by a supersecond of superlucidity (if I can put it that way), in which I realized that this scene was the logical outcome of our ridiculous lives. It wasn’t a punishment but a new wrinkle. It gave us a glimpse of ourselves in our common humanity. It wasn’t proof of our idle guilt but a sign of our miraculous and pointless innocence. But that’s not it. That’s not it. We were still and they were in motion and the sand on the beach was moving, not because of the wind but because of what they were doing and what we were doing, which was nothing, which was watching, and all of that together was the wrinkle, the moment of superlucidity. Then, nothing.”~ Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
“There are books for when you’re bored. Plenty of them. There are books for when you’re calm. The best kind, in my opinion. There are also books for when you’re sad. And there are books for when you’re happy. There are books for when you’re thirsty for knowledge. And there are books for when you’re desperate.”~ Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
“For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work, then Criticism vanishes and it’s the Readers who keep pace. The journey may be long or short. Then the Readers die one by one and the Work continues on alone, although a new Criticism and new Readers gradually fall into step with it along its path. Then Criticism dies again and the Readers die again and the Work passes over a trail of bones on its journey toward solitude. To come near the work, to sail in her wake, is a sign of certain death, but new Criticism and new Readers approach her tirelessly and relentlessly and are devoured by time and speed. Finally the Work journeys irremediably alone in the Great Vastness. And one day the Work dies, as all things must die and come to an end: the Sun and the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the farthest reaches of man’s memory. Everything that begins as comedy ends in tragedy.”