Woes of the true policeman

by Roberto Bolaño

Hardcover, 2012





New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.


Follows Amalfitano, exiled Chilean university professor and widower with a teenage daughter, as his political disillusionment and love of poetry lead to the scandal that will force him to flee from Barcelona and take him to Santa Teresa, Mexico. It is here, in this border town, that Amalfitano meets Arcimboldi, a magician and writer whose work highlights the provisional and fragile nature of literature and life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
A strange volume; it covers ground covered far better in 2666 - in other words, the part about Amalfitano, turning him into a much more homosexual character. Some of this book is heavy going, but I'm glad I read it - it felt like I was suddenly in a parallel universe in which the masterful 2666 did not exist.
LibraryThing member byebyelibrary
The knock on this book is that it was a half-finished work sent to market to exploit Bolanomania and that the work seems to cover ground more thoroughly explored in 2066 and Savage Detectives. I say a half finished Bolano is better than 99 percent of the 100 percent finished books out there. Once again, Armando Duran does a masterful job of giving life to Bolano's wild chases and doomed characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
Bolano is so many things at once – a fabulist, a man of lists, an author who uses humor and irony so deftly that it all becomes quite poetic. And he is also a man of many nooks and crannies who glories and delights in the many ways he can mine that vein of his own special literature – one he helps the reader create. If only he had been able to finish this book, if only he had lived a bit longer…… (more)
LibraryThing member jonfaith
Amalfitano remembered a time when he believed that nothing happened by chance, everything happened for some reason, but when was that time? He couldn't remember, all he could remember was that at some point this was what he believed.

Calvino notes in his Six Memos that Borges began writing fiction as a particular exercise; he would imagine philosophical novels that had been poorly translated into Spanish and write synopses of such. Bolaño's own inchoate 20 year project most likely gave birth to 2666. I can't state that categorically, but Greg thinks so and I tend to agree. Call it a hunch. Jesus, this project is so evocative and such a mess. I found myself gasping in marvel, which is a rare feat these days. Strike that, over the last decade, I seldom go, "whoa". I did here.

My friend Harold Maier who owned Louisville's Twice Told Books for over 25 years asked me this last fall about Bolaño. I told him I always felt that I wasn't connecting completely when reading him, there was an aura of mishearing at play. That said, I couldn't stop thinking about him. That presence remains.

Life, of course, which puts the essential books under our noses only when they are strictly essential, or on some cosmic whim.
… (more)


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