by Pa Rock
I am becoming an ardent fan of the late writer, Roberto Bolano. Last fall I completed his Savage Detectives, a long and complicated tale about a group of young poets in Mexico who spend a good portion of the literary work driving around the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico looking for a poet who disappeared several decades earlier. And while that plot may sound as though it is less than gripping, it was a surprisingly good read.
Bolano died a few years ago just as he was finishing up 2666, a long tale (900 pages) about the very real murders of hundreds of females in Ciudad Juarez (las muertas de Juarez), and how those murders figured in Bolano's fictional tale of a reclusive German author who was being pursued by three fans - professors of German literature. And where does this pursuit take place? Why across the Sonoran Desert, of course.
It is the setting, I suppose, that draws me to Bolano - that and his very unique writing voice. I have been to many of the small Arizona towns that are discussed in this work, and the starkness of the Sonoran confronts me every day. But I am also a fan of Bolano's expansive pallet as he pursues his characters and story line across two continents and eight decades. Reading a work by Roberto Bolano is very much like tackling Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky - definitely not a task for sissies.
When this swine flu thing finally dries up and the drug cartels start behaving like gentlemen, I may make an extended literary tour into northern Mexico and visit Bolano's haunts on that side of the border. It would be a unique experience to let his work guide me through the ragged desert communities that populate his tales.
I look forward to the day when I can make that trip. I look forward to the day when we as a country can open or hearts and our borders to the good people of Mexico.