Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bolano's dogs

On the whole, I'm starting to get poetry. I had a breakthrough this year, I thought.

For a year and a half now, I've been smitten with Roberto Bolano's words, the poetry (the poeticism?) of his work. So I was very much looking forward to The Romantic Dogs.

But these poems had nothing of the transportative quality of his prose, the sweep-you-off-your-feet torrent of words, the passion for poetry, politics, life.

I recognize some of the characters in these poems from the stories and novellas I've read. I have the feeling that's where these poems started, built from the scraps that were edited out.

Now I'm left wondering if maybe it's Spanish-language poetry I don't quite get. (But I like Neruda.) I found too many similarities between these poems and those that constituted a chorus in Fuentes' Happy Families. Weirdly and unnecessarily cryptic. Like a private joke I have no hope of ever being in on.

Or maybe it's just not any good.

I did like, enjoy, appreciate some of it. "Godzilla in Mexico," for example.

And from "X-rays":
If we look, however, with X-rays inside of the man,
We'll see bones and shadows: ghosts of fiestas
and landscapes in motion as if viewed from an airplane
tailspin. We'll see the eyes he saw, the lips
his fingers brushed, a body emerged
from a snowstorm. And we'll see the naked body,
just as he saw it, and the eyes and the lips he brushed,
and we'll know that there's no cure.

Beautiful and provocative, no?

I'll be reading more Bolano soon, and counting on the prose to carry me further than did these poems.

Extra credit
Which of the following covers is the better design?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Bolano wrote poetry too! I'm planning on reading some Bolano in 2009, I haven't read him before. I'll have to include his poetry too. I like the cover on the left best.