Begun in the 1980s and worked on until the author's death, in 2003, Woes of the True Policeman is Roberto Bolaño's last, unfinished novel. The novel follows Oscar Amalfitano - an exiled Chilean university professor and widower - through the maze of his revolutionary past, his relationship with his teenage daughter, Rosa, his passion for a former student, and his retreat from scandal in Barcelona. Forced to leave Barcelona for Santa Teresa, a Mexican city close to the U.S. border where women are being killed in unprecedented numbers, Amalfitano soon begins an affair with Castillo, a young forger of Larry Rivers paintings. Meanwhile, Rosa, Amalfitano's daughter, engages in her own epistolary romance with a basketball player from Barcelona, while still trying to cope with her mother's early death and her father's secrets.
After finding Castillo in bed with her father, Rosa is forced to confront her own crisis. What follows is an intimate police investigation of Amalfitano that involves a series of dark twists, culminating in a finale full of euphoria and heartbreak.
©2011 The Heirs of Roberto Bolano; Translation copyright 2012 by Natasha Wimmer (P)2012 Dreamscape Media, LLC
One of the "Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2012 Book Preview" titles. (The Millions)
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I loved 2666 and didn't want it to end, so naturally I chose this book, recently published posthumously. Some of the characters had the same names as those in 2666, The works of fictional author Archimbaldi showed up--in fact there is a list of his complete works. What's wrong with this, I asked myself? Why am I falling asleep? Why don't I care about these people? This novel lacks the sparkle and polish of Bolano's other works. It lacks humor. I often felt like these were scenes he had tried out for 2666 and then discarded in favor of more interesting ones. t was interested, and I finished it, mainly as a window into Bolano's process and style.
That said, there is a beautiful and touching series of letters near the end of the novel that were worth staying for.
I could not sort out if the narration was a problem or not. It was easy enough to follow.
If you haven't read Roberto Bolano yet, try the Savage Detectives or 2666.
This elucidates so much of what is often unsaid in the narratives of 2666 and Savage Detectives. As its own piece, a rumination, we see into Bolaño's mind and it is glorious to see, as if happening contemporaneously with our reading this book is Bolaño's persistent formulation of these characters and themes.
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