by Pa Rock
I've just finished reading The Savage Detectives, a splendid but rather lengthy tome about a group of poets who were on a mission to protect a prostitute from her pimp while scouring the Sonoran Desert in search of a legendary poetess who faded from view fifty years earlier. The book also covers the last three decades of the twentieth century and follows the individual lives of these visceral realist poets as they tramp across Mexico, Central America, Europe, and Africa in search of life. They were a scroungy lot living on the fringe of literary relevance, yet their stories were as deeply touching as they were troubling.
The Savage Detectives looks at the world in a realistic fashion, and, as an honest spectator, it is certain to become a banned book. There are several reasons that make it inevitable that the work will not be welcome on the shelves of high school libraries in the inbred areas of rural America, particularly in the South.
First of all, the book was written by a foreigner. Roberto Bolano, Chilean by birth, accurately captured the sense of outrage and desperation among average Chileans when the United States stepped in and helped Pinochet and his uniformed thugs murder Salvador Allende, the elected President of Chile. (That probably qualifies as a couple of reasons!) The book was about foreigners and presented them as ordinary people, not the stuff of a good Christian education. Also, there was sex...lots and lots of casual sex, mostly heterosexual, yet none of which was performed with the benefit of marriage. And the sex was constantly presented in such a way as to imply that it was a natural act that could be enjoyed for reasons other than procreation!
The icing on the cake, as far of the banning of this book is concerned, is that the lefty New York Times named The Savage Detectives as one of the ten best books of the year. There ain't no way that marker will slip by the religious censors and other small minded people who want to control what we read, write, watch, listen to, and enjoy.
I plan to hang onto my copy of The Savage Detectives until it receives its proper recognition and is placed on some of the more prestigious lists of banned books. Then I will carefully wrap it and send it to the Wasilla, Alaska, Public Library.