Prologue to Woes of the True Policeman by Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas Translated by Natasha Wimmer Woes of the True Policeman is a project that was begun at the end of the 1980s and continued until the writer’s death. What the reader has in his hands is the faithful and definitive version, collated from typescripts and computer documents, and bearing evidence of Roberto Bolaño’s clear intention to include the novel in a body of work in a perpetual state of gestation. There are also a number of epistolary references to the project. In a 1995 letter, Bolaño writes: “Novel: for years I’ve been working on one that’s titled Woes of the True Policeman and which is MY NOVEL. The protagonist is a widower, 50, a university professor, 17-year-old daughter, who goes to live in Santa Teresa, a city near the U.S. border. Eight hundred thousand pages, a crazy tangle beyond anyone’s comprehension.” The unusual thing about this novel, written over the course of fifteen years, is that it incorporates material from other works by the author, from Llamadas telefónicas (Phone Calls) to The Savage Detectives and 2666, with the peculiarity that even though we meet some familiar characters—particularly Amalfitano, Amalfitano’s daughter, Rosa, and Arcimboldi—the differences are notable. These characters belong to Bolaño’s larger fictional world, and at the same time they are the exclusive property of this novel.
If we can pair wine with food, why not novels with albums? The subtextual kinship between certain titles lends itself to some investigation. Westin Glass, trained as an architect and currently playing drums in The Thermals, curates two such pairings. Let us know what you think in the comments, and feel free to suggest other pairings. I. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Amnesiac by Radiohead Matching up Thomas Pynchon with Radiohead is a no-brainer. It’s no secret that the Oxford boys are fans of Pynchon’s paranoiac ziggurat-novels (their online merch store, W.A.S.T.E., is named after a worldwide underground postal service in his novel The Crying of Lot 49), and I like to imagine that the mythically reclusive author appreciates Radiohead’s alienated surveillance-camera view of the world. Amnesiac and Gravity’s Rainbow are among these artists most celebrated works—dense, complex masterpieces that greater minds than mine have examined at length. They pair beautifully.