everything that begins as comedy…

IMG_0509The other day I tried to give my fiction shelves a bit of a tidy-up (that’s the bulk of them in the photo there) and I came across my copy of The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano.  I had a bit of a flick through the book and landed on a page where I had pencilled a note that said “everything that begins as comedy” at the start of the chapter; these were not my own words, however, they were in fact a phrase that the narrator had repeated throughout the chapter (Chapter 23 of Book II).  While I had been reading this sprawling, rambling, rambunctious, fascinating, vicarious novel I was so struck by the writing that I wanted to try to make some notes that would help me remember the contents of various chapters should I ever want to come back to the book for whatever reason.

It struck me as strange, synchronous, to open on this chapter given I had recently started this blog with its focus on comedy and tragedy (and I had read the book back in 2010) .  I had underlined some sentences within the chapter. Here is what they said:

  • Everything that begins as comedy ends as tragedy.
  • Everything that begins as comedy ends as tragicomedy.
  • Everything that begins as comedy inevitably ends as comedy.
  • I’m an educated man: the prisons I know are subtle ones.
  • In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we’re no more than castrated cats . . . Everything that begins as comedy ends as a cryptographic exercise.

The subsections within the chapter go on to iterate other endings to things that begin as comedy but for some reason I didn’t continue to underline them or any other text within that chapter.

What does it all mean? I’m not sure.


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