You're absolutely right. And that is the joy of literature. That it can mean one thing or another entirely, depending on the reader's perspective. Although there are occasions when translations can hurt (as in causing pain). For example, I believe Saramago's "The Double" should have been "The Duplicated Man" or something to that effect. Basically because at the end of the novel the double has a double so the original was duplicated, not doubled. And in The Historian. I saw it in Spanish as "La Historiadora". Boy did this pain me. The ambiguity that exists in the English (who is the historian? The woman? Her father? Dracula?) is lost in translation.
For someone studying literature, you seem to have a very limited understanding of langauge.
The way "savage" is used here - and the way Bolano used the word in a lot of his writing and speaking - doesn't necessarily mean "brute" or "violent." It means "primitive" or, more accurately, "unrefined."
Translating "salvajes" as "savage" was the proper choice.
I have no opinion on the title, as I have an extremely limited understanding of Spanish. However, Mr. Whitney, I would be interested in reading anything you've written on the novel, now one my absolute favorites. No idea how to get in touch with someone through Amazon, but if you're reading this, post a reply, and we'll make it happen. Peace.
I am From Mexico City and I read the book is Spanish. I thing he was meaning: "wild" (That you do crazy things) and NOT "unrefined". Like wild dancing or Savage dancing. We usually use the term "Salvage" for our driving in Mexico City. Anybody else agree?