First Thoughts Upon Finally Reading Bolaño’s “Woes of the True Policeman”

Of the many books in Bolaño’s interwoven oeuvre, this was the first posthumously-edited, as-yet-unfinished volume that betrays the presence, or rather the absence of the author. It flatly addresses questions floated or hinted at in other works (What about the UFOs? Why so many characters?  Why so many retellings of the same stories from slightly different angles with slightly different details?).  It seems to end mid-sentence, but then it does so appropriately, at just such an “I’ll be right back” moment as readers have become accustomed to.  This pause, though, has the unmistakeable weight of finality, the epistolary finality of a farewell that has reached its recipient on the other side of an unbridgeable gap of distance and time. So it is that we are left to silently contemplate Padilla’s fate in Barcelona, thousands of miles removed from Amalfitano’s eerily bloody Mexico. This feeling of definite separation has its counterpart in the final break of reader from author, in the feeling from which readers have been thus far shielded; that of the author as an individual taking his leave.  Whether this was a deliberate drop of the curtain or the unintended consequence on a work in progress of the drawing of the shroud, the reader takes away the rare feeling that, more so than in his other works, Bolaño has undisguisedly revealed more of himself to the audience than in any of his other works.