Woes of the True policeman by Roberto Bolano

woes of the true policeman

Woes of the true policeman by Robert Bolano

Chilean fiction

Original title Los sinsabores del verdadero policía

Translator Natasha Wimmer

Source – Library

Well as all of you that  have followed this blog for a time,will  know Bolano is one of my favourite writers and this is the fifth book I have under review here  and the ninth in all I’ve read by Bolano ,this one comes from the works he was working on when he died that were left on a hard drive .So although I loved this book like I have most of his books I do wonder if it was as he want or just fragments strung together .

According to Padilla ,remembering Amalfitano ,all literature could be classified as heterosexual , homosexual or bisexual .Novels ,in general were heterosexual .Poetry on the other hand , was completely homosexual .Within the vast ocean of poetry he identified various currents .

A controversial argument opens the novel

The “Woes of a true policeman ” has Bolano written all over it ,firstly settings First Spain then Mexico us border .Characters in this book where in earlier works ,they feel at times like Bolano intend this as a stand along read to 2666 maybe even a prelude to that book .The Characters are the Lit professor Oscar Amalfitano ,although in 266 he is described as more gay and is also a professor of philosophy not literature in that book .We also recounted the German writer Benno Von Archimboldo ,where we see his works describe as some works through the books he wrote this is the connection to the first man Oscar because he once long ago translated on of Archimboldo’s books .Add in forged paintings ,some dark situations and a  touch of humour you have the makings of what might be a third epic to sit along 2666 and Savage detectives ,because Bolano had spent the best parts of twenty years working on this book .

Works of J.M.G Archimboldi (Carcasanne 1925 )


The enigma of the cyclist of the tour de france – Gallimard ,1956.

Vertummnus – Gallimard ,1958.

Hartmann von aue – Gallimard 1959.

Sam O’Rourkes search – Gallimard,1960 .

Riquer – Gallimard,1961.

Railroad perfection – Gallimard,1964.

The librarian – Gallimard,1966.

The endless rose -Gallimard,1968.

The natives of Fontainebleau -Gallimard,1970.

Racine -Gallimard,1979.

Doctor Dotremont-Gallimard,1988

The list of novels and in the following section we find out about these imagined books .But aren’t the titles just wonderful .

That is the point what came first as you read this book ,This or 2666 one imagines Bolano spent the last twenty years of his life working this book together and at various points used it as a spring-board to other books namely 2666 ,but the section with the Bibliography of Benno Von Archimboldo also remind me of his great book on imagined Nazi writers of Latin america ,Nazi Literatures in america and father daughter relationships are something else I ve read in other books by Bolano .So although at times this books jumps and you can tell or feel it is a little unpolished or is it just  Bolano playing with the novel as a form ,in Antwerp the are huge gaps that are left for you as a reader in Nazi literatures in America there isn’t a linear narrative ,so it is hard to say what stage the book was in .I’m sure some of you are going well just look up I could but that would spoil my fun .I wonder what else is on the hard drive is this a bottomless pit like the Pessoa trunk seems to be ? With still a couple of books to read from Bolano I feel his place in Latin American fiction is yet to be decided .He took chunks of fellow writers the dedication at the front is to Manuel Puig and Philip K dick now Puig in his work  I have always seen ,but from my reading of two Dick books twenty years ago I can see him as well that uneasy sense of place (I know sci-fi don’t fall back in horror I have also read fantasy in the past ) .As we read more from the next generation the Likes of Neumann ,Pron ,Luiselli ,Enrique and et al will show his lasting legacy .

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite Bolano ?

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian Joseph
    May 11, 2013 @ 20:07:24

    I really need to read Bolano.

    Though I had heard that he was a fan of Philip K. Dick it is interesting that you noticed influences in this work. I like your “uneasy sense of place” description.


  2. Parrish
    May 11, 2013 @ 20:56:13

    Not read this one yet, have the Third Reich as my next Bolano read. My favourite is probably the short story collection Last Evenings on Earth.


  3. Violet
    May 12, 2013 @ 04:26:26

    I like Amulet a lot, and Savage Detectives. 2666 was a bit of a slog for me at times, but I’m glad I read it. I love the way you’ve tied this book in with 2666. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to publish a dead author’s work in progress, but it sounds as though it’s an interesting read, nevertheless.


  4. Col
    May 12, 2013 @ 11:47:08

    Not read this. Really enjoyed 2666 though, and have Savage Detectives waiting to be read!


  5. JoV
    May 12, 2013 @ 22:24:09

    After 2666 I couldn’t pick another Bolano up. I have to overcome that trauma before I decided to read one of his book!


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May 2013


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