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Woes of the True Policeman Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374266743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374266745
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Yet another posthumous, unfinished novel by literary giant Bolaño has surfaced, though it’s said this will be the last. While it is no Savage Detectives (1998; tr. 2007), 2666 (2004; tr. 2008), nor many others, Bolaño fans, and there are many, will have no trouble delving right in to once again devour the master linguist’s every word. The story, about a Chilean professor, Amalfitano, forced to flee Barcelona with his daughter to Mexico due to scandal, uses character names and themes from Bolaño’s previous novels and therefore feels somewhat familiar. Still, this is far from table scraps. The work may be incomplete, but Bolaño, periodically tinkering on the novel from the 1980s until his death, in 2003, had nearly created a fully realized world, one begging to be further fleshed out. But even in an unpolished manuscript, his capacity for spinning out pages-long sentences using language in new and surprising ways shows that this is quintessential Bolaño. For writers, the various stages of completion wonderfully illustrate Bolaño’s creative process. With more time alive, Bolaño could have made this another treasure of world literature. --Casey Bayer

Review

“The most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation.”—The New York Times Book Review

“One of our greatest writers...Latin American letters (wherever it may reside) has never had a greater, more disturbing avenging angel than Bolaño.”—Junot Díaz, The New York Times Book Review

Praise for Woes of the True Policeman:

“The writing never feels stale but, rather incredibly, shines anew....The publication of a Bolaño novel, complete or not, is never anything less than an event of language and devilish wit.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Bolaño’s voice demands attention.”—The New Yorker
 
“Bolaño [seems] to come from an understanding that people are portholes; that a creation can represent singular space that otherwise would go unknown....He allows the novel to vibrate through its box.”—Vice

“Indelible Bolaño...[Woes of the True Policeman] may offer insight into the writer’s larger project.”—Los Angeles Times

“Full of delights...like watching a master magician unpacking his bag of tricks.”—The New Orleans Times-Picayune
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed "by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times)," and as "the real thing and the rarest" (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his Bolaño translations.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume, which Bolaño is said to have worked on from the 1980s until his death in 2003, is most likely to appeal to hard-core Bolañistas and novelists like myself, though it is full of interesting bits. It seems to be a side project to his masterly 2666, also left in a state of incompletion (though you wouldn’t know this unless you were told) at his death, and involves some of the same characters that appear in that novel, Amalfito and Rosa in particular. However, the versions of these characters as portrayed in Woes of the True Policeman do not really gibe with the their counterparts in 2666, and, and though Bolaño does occasionally refer to the former book by its title in his correspondence, there is ample reason to suppose that Woes is to some degree a sketch book for 2666, which he was working on at the same time. In that case many of the sketches in Woes may be seen as warm-ups for 2666, experiments finally omitted from that much more polished masterpiece. Since Bolaño frequently reused characters (slightly altered) from book to book, and never wasted a word he wrote, I’m tempted to think that when he finally had 2666 pretty much where he wanted it, he wondered if he could make another novel out of the leftovers that we now have as Woes. (And you can be certain his publishers wondered the same thing after his death.) Thus for anyone who writes and is interested in how Bolaño went about it, Woes is fascinating, even essential. It is very far from being a finished novel, however, even though there is new material included in it, particularly regarding policemen (consonant with the author’s abiding interest in detectives). For me Woes is a very instructive look into Bolaño’s writing process (“just do it,” in short), and for that I loved it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E.A. Grange on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this a great deal. It's not his best, but certainly better than Third Reich. Interesting as an addendum to 2666, though not essential. Some people have called it the sixth book of that great novel, but it's really not. Still worth it, though. A great expansion on the Amalfitano character. The only real knock is that it ends rather suddenly, as posthumously published works often do, and left me with a sense of the story being not quite complete and I really felt like it deserved a better sense of closure.
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Format: Hardcover
Many readers will argue that this work is not a "novel" at all. Certainly it does not adhere to the traditional expectations of a novel, no matter how flexible the reader is with definitions. Begun at the end of the 1980s and still unfinished at the time of author Roberto Bolano's death in 2003, at the age of fifty, The Woes of the True Policeman was always a work in progress, one on which the author continued to work for fifteen years. Many parts of it, including some of the characters, eventually found their way into other works by Bolano, specifically, The Savage Detectives and his monumental 2666.

This book's "plot," such as it is, begins after the first chapter, which is a commentary about literature in general and categories of poetry in particular. In Chapter Two, Bolano gives the background for Padilla, a Barcelona student who has seduced his fifty-year-old professor, Amalfitano, the widowed father of a teenaged daughter and around whom the novel revolves. Padilla's childhood, his relationship with his father, his tendency to violence, the writing of his first book of poetry, and a film which Padilla plans to make about Leopardi, the Italian poet/philosopher, are all discussed in detail. When a whispering campaign regarding Professor Amalfitano and Padilla endangers Amalfitano's job at the University of Barcelona, Amalfitano must find another place to teach, this time going to the University of Santa Teresa, a town modeled on Ciudad Juarez, on the border of Mexico and Texas. Padilla stays on in Barcelona, writing a novel.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim Schmaltz on March 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
I was about 190 pages into the Bolano book, when it stopped abruptly and gave way to a simpleminded story about baseball. I researched the text and found it was pages from a MIke Lupica book called "The Big Field." It goes on for about 30 pages--different typeset, font, and graphics--until it resumes with the Bolano book. It's like a prank from the Devil himself. I read voraciously, and this has never happened to me before. Did anybody else experience this? I'll have to get a copy of an unmolested version of "Woes," because I was enjoying it immensely. The contrast between Bolano's searing story in Saint Theresa and Lupica's execrable hackery is astonishing.
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