The Wild Detectives is a place where you can order a book, and instead of paying shipping, the owners will buy you a drink when you come to pick it up. This bookstore-bar venue first took root in conversations between two Spanish civil engineers, Javier García del Moral and Paco Vique, who wanted to create a space for bar-inspired conversations and books to collide. Since opening in 2014, they’ve been lauded by D Magazine as Best Bookstore for 3 consecutive years, were invited to give a TedTalk at University of Texas in Arlington, and launched a #LitBait campaign that went viral.
The Wild Detectives’ owner, Javier García del Moral, offers us a look at their space and future plans.
First, can you tell us a little about the name? Are there other ways in which this space was inspired by Roberto Bolaño?
Our name is a free translation of Bolaño’s Savage Detectives. We were inspired by the sense of freedom the novel's two main characters have—which are based on Roberto Bolaño and his friend Mario Santiago. Sometimes all you need is a poetry book to feel free and invulnerable.
The Wild Detectives is interested in cultivating conversation and community among readers. Can you tell us any stories about the way you’ve seen that vision succeed?
Our goal was always to create a space where people interested in culture could enjoy, share it, and hang out while doing so. Our event programming has been key to articulate this; events are important to gather people with similar interests where they can enjoy something together and discuss it. Additionally, our books and bar make our place a welcoming hangout; a place where you can discuss books, movies, and music with friends or strangers that are likely to be curious about those things too.
Can you talk a little about your vision for future events?
I would say we are responsible for probably half of the events that take place at WD, the other half is the result of the local community proposing events and coming up with new ideas. Moving forward we will try to consolidate a weekly programming of literary discussions, we are also looking into have more thematic months dedicated to issues that require a deeper approach like gender equality or gentrification, and we want to consolidate a solid programming of Spanish events for the Latin community. We’ll leave the rest to our patrons, they already demonstrated they have better ideas than us.
Are there particular challenges that come with encouraging these kinds of complex, cultural conversations?
Human interaction is everything but an exact science. All you can do is provide those things that are important for you and see if other people find them interesting. Our personal lives have been extremely affected by the books we have read, the movies we have seen, and the music we follow, and I am sure we are not that special, that many people out there find these things important too and if there is a place to share them, they will use it. That’s what we count on.
You mentioned in your anniversary article (published in March of this year), that you hope to expand your book curation to include selections from the literacy community in “Spain, Mexico, Ireland, France, Australia, Chile and many other countries all over the map.” In what other ways has the bookstore invited an international or multicultural presence?
We are originally from Spain and due to our work as civil engineers we have visited different parts of the world for long periods of times, which allowed us to plant roots in places like Ireland, Australia, Mexico, USA or the Middle East. We use those international ties to take our book curation to another level and have that multicultural community help with our book selection. This collaborative effort is something we already do for our programming at a local level; our best events have been created by our own patrons and we already count on the Dallas literary community to curate our book selection. We are now expanding that to our international literary network.
Finally, what are some favorite cocktails and books that you might recommend to a new customer?
It’s always hard to pick favorites so I will stick to some new favorites we recently discovered or enjoyed. We just launched a new seasonal cocktail for the fall-winter period, one of my favorites is the Huyaco, a variation of a White Russian with Tequila, Sotol, and Topo Chico, too good for my own good. I just finished a fascinating non-fiction novel called Oil Blood that explains how our society is perpetuating some of the most atrocious regimes still active. Fiction-wise, I very much enjoyed recently The Association of Small Bombs, and I am currently reading the last short stories from Carlos Velazquez, one of our favorites in Spanish.