yearzerowriters

Issue 2

The Savage Detectives Roberto Bolano ***** 

Roberto Bolano pretty much lived the life he writes about in this book, a multi-style account of what happens to a young, radical group of poets as they age. It starts with a 17 year old who knows poetry techniques but little about life and for a hundred pages or so we follow a diary narrative of his first two months as a member of the visceral realists. That’s the radical group of poets, if you’re wondering. Then, after his narrative ends, there’s a jump into a load of multi-ethnic, first person recollections of the visceral realist’s two leaders, mostly from peripheral characters, and even some we’ve never met before. It’s a bit of a lurch, actually, and for the next hundred or so pages you might find it disappointing. I did…in fact, I was skipping ahead to see if it’d switch back to the 17 year old kid again, as we leave him on a real cliffhanger. But the thing is, Bolano gradually pulls you into the new style and the gift he has for writing as different people with different voices is incredible…really, he writes all sorts, and most of them are all associated with poetry or the arts in some way, so you’re getting variety out of a group of people that is usually portrayed as either pretentious or odd. The best thing to say about this book though, is that it makes you want to be like the two poet leaders, Ulysses Cruz and Arturo Belano (who is obviously the author). They travel without money and without plans and one of them even ends up sleeping in a cave somewhere on the coast of France. Only certain personalities can do this of course, but don’t you wish you had the balls to be one of them?

The Cape Kenji Nakagami *****

 

The title story from this collection of three starts out slowly with Nakagami introducing us to the latent sexual yearnings of the main guy, who’s only nineteen, I think. He works construction, and he’s a strong lad, but he’s also part of the lowest group in the caste system which was dominant in Japan sometime in the 60’s. Basically, he’s Japanese, but no one treats him that way, and Nakagami writes this dilemma well, as the kid, along with others in his caste, is always on the edge of some kind of violent reaction to his situation. Also, his brother committed suicide when he was even more of a kid and his Dad ran off…well, not really ran off as he is still known about town and is a bit of a sensualist…and there’s the idea that builds, that the kid isn’t gonna be able to escape becoming like his Dad, despite not being raised by him. So it’s genetic or natural, and this is shown by the Cape of the title, a piece of land that awkwardly juts out into the sea, the land forcing itself into another element. But fuck it, I don’t wanna sound like a lit. critic so I’ll just say it’s well written, the writer doesn’t force the imagery or decorate it with overly- lyrical words, he just writes it plainly, which is always the best way. Did I mention I can’t stand literary fiction? Anyway, the coda suggests that abusive or absent fathers will provoke their kids into some kind of skewed life, as the kid sleeps with his prostitute sister. Maybe not violence, but something not completely normal…

New Moon Stephanie Meyer *****

 

I’m sorry, no snobbery here, but even for YA fiction this is crap. I’ve never read such soppy, emotive shit. Really, there’s no point describing the plot…Robert Pattison continues with the same face, stroking the main girl, but not going any further. I mean, really, it’s so safe, isn’t it? Any normal teenage boy would get her in a park or playground somewhere and have his fingers up her-…[Ed – Garalt, don’t…]. I can’t even write any more about it…I only put it in because Oli said he wanted diversity. Well, I’m sorry, but as JJ Abrams might say, ‘this woman can’t write an inch.’

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