"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Savage Detectives a Little Too

When an English translation of The Savage Detectives, by the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño, was published last year in the United States, New York Times critic Richard Eder judged the work "complex, numbingly chaotic and sinuously memorable." In the Sunday Times Book Review, James Wood, a famously exacting literary critic, compared Bolaño's novel favorably to the work of Stendhal and Gide. The literary thriller's content, however, falls outside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's publication-review guidelines as spelled out in its Offender Orientation Handbook (see excerpts on Pages 2 and 3). The disqualifying passage, which appears on Page 39, describes an oral-sex contest in a nightclub that ends when the champion vomits after nearly choking to death on the penis of a particularly sadistic and well-endowed customer.
At Slate.

I happened to have a library copy of The Savage Detectives on my desk waiting to be read when I saw that, so of course I went immediately to page 39. To give the author credit, the story of the blow job contest is related by a whore in a nightclub, and it stars her pimp, a "real man" who sometimes deliberately cuts his enormous penis with the knife he uses to measure it and make sure it isn't shrinking.

Although I suppose someone somewhere will believe anything.

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