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2666

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Posted

I'll be very happy to join you, Beast. I want to re-read the book from the beginning and it would be great to go through it together, maybe a portion at a time. if anyone else wants to join in, try to get yourself a copy.

Btw, some fans of the author think his novel The Savage Detectives was even better than 2666. In terms of completely mastering a host of different voices at least, I'd agree, but we could move to that earlier work after this.

I'll commit to reading this with you folks as I just picked it up myself. I'm tired of getting something based on recommendations here and not following through reading it. This is a monster of a book though and I'm not particuarly adept at literary criticism. I'll just post some vagaries of thought as I go along.

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There is a compelling contrast between the academics (the professors on one hand, Norton on the other), and one wonders if Bolano is not mocking those iron-willed professors. Whilst they are absolutely dedicated to their endeavours (searching for Archiboldi; developing their comprehension of his works), Norton has taken a far more relaxed approach in reading the books simply for fun.

For Norton, there is no such thing as a worthwhile end: an end simply is the by-product of what is done, and what is done is done simply for the sake of immediate pleasures. Yet, for all her lack of goal-orientated drive, she conveys her academic superiority over the professors, earning their adulation and admiration.

Contrast this with Espinoza, who staunchly obsesses over Junger, and works (with somewhat fickle tendencies) to become a revered writer. His focus and his determination both compel him to arrogance and a figurative tunnel-vision, depicted through his envious admiration of his heroes, and utter disdain of his contemporaries, who shun him. Ultimately, he becomes bitter and resentful as he accepts that his goals are unattainable. Is he, thus, involved in these seminars on Archiboldi because of a genuine change in heart, or is this the compromise he unwillingly embraces as being the closest he will ever get to his desired goal?

Is there something to be said, here? If not a veiled moral imperative, maybe a satirical social statement? From my inference, Bolano is taking a decisive swipe at those sorts of people who, being determined and driven (though not necessarily possessing the requisite skills to reach their goals), strive only towards failure, or compromise (I'm rushing now, since judo beckons), and end up arrogant, mocked, and disparate (case in point being the first time they encounter Norton, who vanquishes the very opponents that left them reeling at the seminar).

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How are you finding the writing itself? There are some epic sentences – one early in the first part stretches over several pages, repeatedly punctuated by commas and exhausting the reader but without seeming out of place at all.

Regarding the academics, I think there are several critiques going on so far. Bolaño is mocking those who set out to become writers but end up writing about writing and he was similarly scathing about poets in his other books. (Bear in mind that he was a poet initially and only turned to novels to make more money to support his family, so he is probably also making fun of himself.) More importantly, I think he is inviting us to see ourselves in the academics, devoted to an endeavour that is hugely important to us but of little or no consequence and blinds us to everything else. I felt this particularly in the breezy move from the individual academics being readers of Archimboldi to becoming experts, attending conferences and authoring papers, all without knowing anything about the author. The fact that Archimboldi does not want to be found accentuates the impact, for me.

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Hugo Holbling]How are you finding the writing itself?

It boasts a sophistication that is uncommon in contemporary literature. Despite the melancholic tone and depressing content, there is a sense of warmth to the writing style. In that sense, then, Bolano's masterpiece seems subtly ironic. This inviting warmth that draws the reader into the dark and cold world of the reclusive, blind academics, doomed to failure (recall the squalid conditions of Pelletier's student quarters, and that of the three groups mentioned, those who return home, those who live elsewhere, and those who stay in the squalor, Pelletier stays in the squalor. This theme is extended to the others by way of them remaining in academia: they're so obsessed with achieving their goals that they opt not to move) parallels the blind ambition of the professors (for fear of overusing 'academics'). Here, of course, the reader can empathise with Norton - the fact that Bolano initially sets her up as the more favourable character betrays his intention to force a parallel between the reader and her character - as she is drawn into the professors' world, despite the fact that everybody not caught up in this obsession with Archimboldi opposes them and, so to speak, rips them apart.

Interestingly, in the first couple of pages, the sentences seem to become longer. This conveys the developing determination with which Pelletier seeks information on his hero. One can imagine, as each sentence is granted additional words, parentheses, commas, that Pellenier's work is becoming more time-consuming, that breaks between study are becoming shorter, and eventually that the man has descended into total obsession.

Another point where the sentence-structure plays an important role (though certainly not the only other point) is the Bremen German conference, in which the professors are introduced to Norton for the first time. This scene reads like a battle (further indication of the needless seriousness with which the academics tackle their work), flowing as it does with such ferocity that the reader cannot, sans conscious effort, help but race through it. The battle effect is facilitated by the cosy yet disparate style that precedes it.

Having only read the first ten pages, I feel I can say little else on the subject, at present. I also haven't had anything to eat or drink all day, so the old noggin isn't functioning very well.

Hugo Holbling]I felt this particularly in the breezy move from the individual academics being readers of Archimboldi to becoming experts' date= attending conferences and authoring papers, all without knowing anything about the author.

Yes, and I think it is this transition that Bolano relies upon, primarily, to get his point across. The transition is, of course, absolutely seamless, to the point of being barely noticeable.

If you'll pardon me for resorting to symbolic language, I would compare the development in circumstances to being outside in the evening: one moment, it's light, and at a later moment, it's dark, but that change from light to dark seems to be (excepting beginning and end results) unnoticeable. Of course, those who pay attention to it will notice the sky getting darker, and it is the same in '2666'.

Those who pay attention to the text can see a transition, as these academics isolate themselves, being obsessed, translate books, and submit first-rate dissertations. To the casual reader, however, they are reclusive students in one instant, professors the next.

I'm now wondering if that deliberately seamless transition is Bolano's way of stating that they haven't developed. By that, I mean they haven't learnt anything of value about Archimboldi. They have regurgitated his writings through study and translation (and the fact that one of them is a failed writer lends credence to the notion that they have barely any understanding of the man they are adulating, as does the passage in which Norton proves her superiority over them all).

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Posted

How are you finding the writing itself? There are some epic sentences – one early in the first part stretches over several pages, repeatedly punctuated by commas and exhausting the reader but without seeming out of place at all.

I believe I have just read that sentence. It is exquisite. Bolano forces the reader to scan the pages, picking up briefly on snippets where Archimboldi's name is explicitly referenced, so that I read the whole thing much in the way that the academics listen to it: we ignore, or gloss over the mass irrelevent detail and focus on those few - ultimately insignificant and trivial - sparkling jewels of information. And, in the context of the eric sentence, those jewels really do sparkle, so that you can't help but be drawn to them, and linger over them, and then be drawn to the next jewel with an impatient rapidity more befitting of a greedy and desperate scrabbler (another parallel with the academics) than an enthusiastic and dedicated reader.

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Not sure what to say here. So far, I've been impressed with the humor of the book and Bolano's lively (sarcastic?) description of the professors and their wars. One thing that has caught my attention is his use of parenthetical remarks () - it's something I'm not good at so I enjoy it when a writer does it well. Hugo's mention of "epic sentences" forced me to reread from the start because I rally hadn't noticed - the writing is so fluid and informative, you're never really lost or find yourself having to go back to beginning of a sentence to understand the whole. As a whole, it's pretty cohesive. Anyway, I'll continue on. I'm not confident in speaking about the professors and what they're doing just yet.

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How are you finding the writing itself? There are some epic sentences – one early in the first part stretches over several pages, repeatedly punctuated by commas and exhausting the reader but without seeming out of place at all.

I believe I have just read that sentence. It is exquisite. Bolano forces the reader to scan the pages, picking up briefly on snippets where Archimboldi's name is explicitly referenced, so that I read the whole thing much in the way that the academics listen to it: we ignore, or gloss over the mass irrelevent detail and focus on those few - ultimately insignificant and trivial - sparkling jewels of information. And, in the context of the eric sentence, those jewels really do sparkle, so that you can't help but be drawn to them, and linger over them, and then be drawn to the next jewel with an impatient rapidity more befitting of a greedy and desperate scrabbler (another parallel with the academics) than an enthusiastic and dedicated reader.

Indeed, I've encountered some long 'sentences' here and have been forced to reread, and slow down, contrary to my last post. It's a good and bad thing that Hugo pointed this out as I'm now intensely aware of the length of the sentences even as I'm caught up in it. There are several pages worth of sentences I've just gone through with a short reprieve in between - the epic passage detailing the Swabian which was preceded, a page earlier, by another highly descriptive passage. I'm assuming the epic passage is the one dealing with the Swabian and Archimboldi which gets longer and longer, switching subjects for distinct lengths of time and then, finally, as it gets closer to the end unsettles the reader ( at least me) with thoughts of murder - it is just so casually interspersed with all the rest, it jarred me. I'm going to be rereading some of these before moving on. I'm a pretty slow reader but mainly because I don't like moving on without get a good feel or grasp for what's happening.

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But what's even more brilliant about the Swabian sentence is that the notions of murder (or murderous intent) are never allowed to take precedence over the details specifically concerning Archimboldi. All of these details, which typically would capture the reader's imagination, are transformed into mundane, trivial ink on paper.

Yet, by doing the opposite of what a good story should do, the message becomes more poignant, the writing more alive. It plays irony like an Italian orchestra: beautiful, yet powerful.

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A little further in, the first reference to "the killings in Sonora" occurs when Morini reads an article in Il Manifesto. His main interest is geographical, wondering why the reporter had gone to Chiapas but ended up in Sonora. His reaction is to feel "a wild desire to travel with the reporter". I think the effect of this foreshadowing only becomes clear subsequently but it's chilling on reading the book a second time, particularly Morini's preoccupation with love. However, I notice that the text observes that he "was the first of the four to read an article about the killings in Sonora", implying that they all read it but carried on with their work and relationships without paying much attention.

Regarding the long sentences, I'm tempted to think they function (on one level, at least) to create a blur of information, requiring the reader to either be carried along with it or select what's important. The temptation, deliberately reinforced by the author (I suggest), is to focus on what matters to the critics to enhance the story, since that's what we think the book is. Later on, we will be confronted with the consequences of these choices; for now, I think this is an author controlling his story in order to make the point that we don't want to.

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There is something strange and beguiling about Bolano's writing, his tone and rhythm keeping me constantly on edge. Beautiful passages end abruptly with coarse language or negations of what was just judiciously explained ( Pelletier's diagnosis of Norton, for example) and what should ostensibly be an intimate conversation between friends caught in a love triangle is reduced to an hilarious (subversive) quantification of the words used in the conversation. Following all that is my favorite aside ( is it?) and parenthetical remark. It concerns virtue:

since virtue, once recognized in a flash, has no shine and makes its home in a dark cave amid cave dwellers, some dangerous indeed

It takes the previous conversation to appreciate the remark but I really liked this. Seems to be important.

Anyway, I've finished the part about the critics.I devoured the book yesterday after work. Plenty of stuff here and I'm at all certain where it's going. Or if I'm reading too much into certain things. Pelletier's zombie-like behavior, listlessly reading Arhchimboldi's books, day after day, and Espinoza's typical fling with a foreign girl, etc. What is happening here? Is this much different from the Pelletier's and Espinoza's tour of whorehouses? Or Norton's other flings? Their behavior is largely the same blissfully unaware of what is going on around them and frustrating for the reader - what the heck is happening? Why are these crimes an aside, something to make note of then go on doing the rest? Chemicals in the air, vultures in barren wastelands, unsettling distant sounds, a population seemingly on edge, all give way to poetic remarks but never any actual concern.

When Espinoza is told about the 250 murders ( who can't believe his ears) we are given a clever disquisition explaining how exaggeration is polite admiration. Here, I think, Bolano, is speaking from Espinoza directly to the reader, explaining how such a thing occurs, how we sweep things under the rug by making it incredible - somehow the shock substitutes for action. Or genuine concern. It's an interesting psychological point. Nothing comes of the discussion. Our critics are still blithely touring Saint Teresa sleep-walking, it seems, through the desert. This point, I think is doubly made in that long passage by Amalfantino about Mexican intellectuals. The critics, I take it, only see the foreground but so does the reader except with the irritating suspicion that something is amiss and wondering when the critics will ask serious questions about it.

However, I cannot say I'm not caught up in the minutiae of their lives ( loved the letter and the fact it bookends the chapter) and enjoying the myriad digressions though I'm bewildered as the world around them seems to be screaming for attention.

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Posted (edited)

So, I'm reading The Part about Amalfitano. It's really been about his wife Lola so far, her travels and strange madness. "Strange" because Bolano writes her as also intelligent and clever and rather expressive and even self-conscious of madness.

Bolano traffics in some rather bizarre behavior here, some wicked lines ( and asides again) and arresting, surreal images. Everything is overall breezy and surreal because it is stated so matter-of-factually. I'm not sure if Bolano is demonstrating Amalfitano's love for his wife ( is he himself mad or madly in love or just in love ?) as his actions are so self-less - he's not judgmental towards his wife, is willing to help at a moments notice, and in general has seem to accepted her "madness." The story is rather tragic so far, in almost all aspects. I'm not sure what to think. Lola's search for the poet parallel's the critics search for Archimboldi which more than likely says something about the critics as Lola is insane - but again, I'm a bit wobbly in my reading here. I'll be pushing on.

How far are you into this Beast? I'm not going to b putting this down anytime soon so...

Edited by mosaic

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I've been distracted with some other things (one of which involved reteaching myself GCSE maths till 5 in the morning), so haven't had much chance to read anything, this week.

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This book has me caught in a wondrous paradox. Each time I read, I am caught on every page, every paragraph, nearly every sentence, by something that I makes me want to pause for consideration. Yet, these pauses distract me from the book, and as much as I want to contemplate what I'm reading, I also want to read.

Bolano has drawn me into the complexities and intricacies of these academics' lives and personae. With a deceptively innocent invitation to travel with these characters as they passed through the drudgery of life and the excitement of searching for an author they could never hope to find, I now find myself sitting in the corner of an empty, bare hotel room, while two emotionally dead lovers go at it like lobotomised rabbits, one of them jumping from one warren to the next and back again, and the lapins of those warrens inferring love from intercourse and empty, obligatory conversations.

The search for Archimboldi no longer has the vigour it once had: Bolano has ensnared my interest in his characters, not by introducing them, and hoping I'd take interest in them, but by showing me their mission. It is a fascinating mission, made all the more so by the dullness of these sad, pathetic academics and the melancholic nature of their existence. For much of the time, the pace of the book races through any scenes that might betray emotion, and slows considerable whenever Archimboldi is mentioned (and Bolano is a master of pacing).

It is only when the professors dare to muse over their feelings for Norton that the pace loses consistency, and emotive passages are presented much more slowly. Yet, they are ultimately empty. I read them, and it is like pacing down a corridor lined with Victorian paintings while I search for the toilet; nothing there invokes any negative feelings, but I don't want to be there. I want to get out of there, but I'm still drawn to keeping slow and looking carefully at what's there.

It is obvious which of the three Norton is keen on, though I don't think Bolano intended it to be a surprise. Sometimes a revelation in a plot is deliberately predictable, as trying to maintain the suspense can cripple the story. Bolano refuses to let his work be crippled, and the reader is subjected to the arrogance of Pelletier and Espinoza, the despair of Morini, and the hole-ridden veiled heartache of Norton. Seemingly, Bolano's deepest passages are those concerning Morini. This forgotten, wheelchair bound soul is barely mentioned as the other three wine, dine, fuck and feign exchanges of their emotions like strangers at a first-day addicts anonymous meeting. Morini's nightmare is striking, betraying a fear not, perhaps, of his love for Norton (his being the only genuine love in a flotsam of passions and tornado of people overcompensating for emotions they feel obligated to house) but a fear of losing her. Sometimes, though, we are held back not by the thought of what we might do, but by feeling that we don't know how to go about getting what we want. I suppose, in this context, an apt comparison would be deciding whether or not to go for a job interview (fearing we will stuff it up) versus how to get down from a mountain without a map or compass, or any sense of direction. Morini, of course, is on the mountain. Norton, probably, is at the bottom dying of hypothermia, while Pelletier and Espinoza sit in the tent nearby, each silently cursing one another, and boasting through serpentine smiles about how well they're getting on with each other, and with Norton.

Another scene with Morini - one that is more apropos of the plight of the academics, particularly in light of their futile escapade - is the scene of blindness and a balcony. He opens the window, and the purportedly magnificent view is described. Morini is, however, temporarily blind. Yet, when he regains his eyesight, he shuts the window without looking out of it. This, I think, ties in with his nightmare. I'm not sure as to the specific meaning behind the incident, but I'd hazard a guess that this poor sod is a romantic suffering from depression. His bond with Liz is forged by the fact that Liz has so many people to talk with, but nobody to talk to, and with nobody to talk with, Morini is the best candidate for being Liz's rescuer. There is no knight on a charger riding gallantly to rescue the beautiful princess. There are just two cripples (one physically, one emotionally), trundling down the Victorian hallway with their acquaintances unfortunately walking with them, miles away.

That's all I can offer for now. I suspect there will be a transition from the focus on the academics to a focus on something else, unless the change in plot-lines from the first part to the second part is sudden and immediate. In either case, I am sure Bolano will keep my interest.

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Very nice post, Beast. I deliberately did not go into detail on Norton's relationship because I didn't want to spoil it for you. I thought the it was predictable and expected as well but that didn't really take anything away from it. I found myself wanting get back to her letter. Bolano did a clever thing alternating her letter in between the lives of Espinoze and Pelletier.

*minor spoiler for Beast*

It might seem a bit silly but I was petrified when "the voice" first enters in The Part about Amalfitano. I think I even jumped a little bit. Very unsettling. I was caught off guard there.

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Completely and totally lost. I finished The Part about Amalfitano (TPA) last night and started "The Part about Fate" which has pulled me right back in and has a plot thread I'm following. I hadn't realized I was several pages away from completing TPA when I took a two day hiatus. When I returned and it was complete, I was completely lost and still am. The last section on Guerra explains his behavior throughout the entire chapter but I'm left wondering where exactly Amalfitano's mind is at. He's afraid for his daughter safety, obviously, but his mental state his deteriorating and I'm not sure how many things he's dreaming. The book he's reading, the diagrams he draws, all of it rather bizarre stuff.

The characters in this novel are strange I tell you - most of them are very lonely, sleep-walking through their lives. Their jobs are just that, a paycheck and nothing more ( kind of like many of us, unfortunately). They do things without much passion and are mere spectators to the surrounding world Bolano has created. Often times, a life rich in emotion or feeling is communicated through digressions - they are going on elsewhere while they sit and listen listlessly to others. Or it is reported to them. A death in the family in The Part about Fate is handled so casually, so bereft of emotion, it's draining. It's business-like. What happened? Ok, we will bury her tomorrow. Can it be sooner? No. OK.

WHAT?

And the reader is wondering why the heck this entire exchange is so hollow, so lifeless. The characters seem beaten down and weary, almost as if the fire in them has turned completely into ash. And now they're just floating, going wherever the wind takes them.

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Posted (edited)

Things are picking up in the second half of The Part about Fate. A climateric shift within the chapter itself, unsurprisingly, signaled by the very use of the word "climateric" in describing a character's change.

Lots of interesting things going on and I'm loving the side stories. Here, they are a more concrete lunacy, a lunacy reflective of things actually happening in the world as opposed to the bizarre and surreal activities that constitute Amalfitano's story. I'll see where this takes me.

For now, I'm taking Oscar Fate's name as obviously significant of other things - will he end up like Mesa, exhausted and bored with life - like he already seems to be - or will something come of this investigation, this incredible dangerous journey? What is the fate of these characters, these people? Everyone? In any case, as with all the chapters, Bolano's digressions and descriptions of the general state of the world -whether it be the mundane or horrific - are splendid, humorous, harrowing. Bolano has a knack for describing serious things in a subversive, comical way. You find yourself laughing or humored while completely disturbed ( the Spaniards and rape of the Indians are what I have particularly in mind but this has been true throughout the book). In less disturbing but still irreverent case, he describes a brutal beating in a boxing match as a "monograph" one subject, the liver, one the stomach, etc.

*Thematic/plot spoilers ( realized after the fact)*

Anyway, I find it hard to provide commentary as I read the book. I almost feel like I should finish it, reread it then comment. There are so many things in these chapters, nay, on a single page to peruse over and over and think about but as Beast eloquently stated, you want to keep on reading. For example, Chucho's explanation (one of) of why the murders though ever-present are underneath the radar - the lack of time. It's something that made me think - if all we did were to correct and focus all our energies on evil, there would be nothing else to do in life. No living. But is this justification? When do these things become important enough to engender action? Earlier in the chapter, Bolano, has young man explain how the ghastly number of people who died on slave ships or even through serial killings were swept under the rug - they were not part of society. They were not written about. They could not be identified with - their lives weren't "legible" to use a word in the book. They were the paradoxical elephant in the room - obviously there but completely unseen. Whereas local murders, murders to people of the right class, though smaller in scale could inspire terror and fear in a community - because it was immediate, personal.

What is really being talked about here is how easy it is for us as humans to distance ourselves from other human beings, how our immediate surroundings ( cultural group, etc.) act as a sort of defensive mechanism, a screen that enables us to dismiss or bypass atrocities that go on all around us - even in our name. Everyone, of course, knew implicitly what was happening on these ships and the lives being lost just like we know now, implicitly, what occurs overseas in order that we can live the lives we live. But what do we do? What can we do? As the part about Fate continues, we're seeing this very dynamic unfold - Fate wants to write about the murders but because he's working for a Black magazine, this is of conflicting interest. " How many black men are involved in this shit?" A ridiculous question, on the face of it, since why should that matter? We have a mass murder going on here! This of of human interest. But as right as that response is, it gives me pause when we look back at the sort of world we live in and what it would take to really effect change. Who has the time? A horrible, callous question when stated so plainly but there it is.

Anyway, those are some things that ran through my mind.

Edited by mosaic
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The dissolution of the Norton-Pelletier-Espinoza trilationship seems to have come to a climax, as it were, and despondency has truly set in, both with regard to the characters, and the theme of the plot.

Bolano exercises a liberal approach to symbolism in aftermath of the trilationship, and there is a seamless transition into this style as Pelletier is warned to before of 'the gorgon' (Norton). The long sentences have grown shorter, and the book takes a more gentle tone, relaxed mood, as the disparaging academics lose interest in the author that they obsessed over, and obligate to each others' company in more casual circumstances.

Of course, this relaxed mood depicts itself as being superficial, and one feels, as a reader, almost like an unsuspecting victim of the gorgon as one is drawn into her layer. There are no clear signs of danger, but an ominous foreboding slithers through and between each word, each letter of every page until one is gripped by suspense. Here, of course, the writing style pays off, as one is urged to read faster by one's own curiosity, but held back by Bolano's style. The author has, in a sense, gained mastery over time, and employs this power to supreme effect.

The battering of the taxi driver, in my view, marks the end of the old style, of the trilationship, of the decreasingly obsessive, and increasingly laissez-faire commitment to Archimboldi. The jealousy has tempered long enough, and a poor, albeit interfering innocent has to bear it. In a sense, the driver is emblematic of a Christ figure (the disparaging slurs on his religion support this parallel), as he bears the sins of Pelletier and Espinoza, and his crime? Preaching and criticising his social superiors.

The escapade to visit the one-handed artist is a magnificent piece of authorship, and I am still pondering over what Bolano's intentions were. Before, considering that here, however, Pelletier's dream of the beach is, first, worthy of deliberation.

What does it mean? Pelletier sees the people on the beach, all the time, almost like a collective, rather than a collection of individuals. They keep looking for something, on the horizon. One day, suddenly, they all depart, and Pelletier is left in a frightened rage. He screams for Norton, until the statue emerges from the waters. I particularly admired the concept of the water itself sweating. But, what is this statue? Is this the gorgon's curse upon herself? Has Medusa become the cause of her own demise? A preliminary reading certainly suggests that this status is the gorgon, is Norton. I think, however, it is more. It is Norton and her lovers, or those who dared to be with her. She's self-destructive, and this self-destruction makes her a danger, as it were a sin, ultimately a temptation. To draw a parallel, she is a booby-trapped chest, which is both destroyer and destroyed whenever it gets opened.

Hence, the statue represents not one character, but a situation, including the characters (Norton, Pelletier, and possibly Espinoza, though I doubt Pelletier's subconscious has much concern for his chief aid and adversary).

Morini is despised by the artist. I suspect this is a prejudice, as the artist is disabled, and the ailing academic is disabled. Has the Italian come to visit this man because, by mere virtue of his disability, the Italian expects to share some kind of bond with the artist? Such condescension will not do. But no, Morini just wants to know why this artist committed an act of self-mutilation. Was it a statement? A stand? A 'fuck you' to the masses, to the ignorant herd, to the authorities, to society, to art itself? Had this man come to realise that the art was a waste of time? Was he casting his wasted life into the river, thus washing away that pretension he nursed and harboured for far too long?

It was, so says Morini, for money. There is no spectacle, no allusion, no deeper meaning. The artist, indeed the artistry itself, is suddenly a scam, a lie laughing at Morini, and Morini's disillusionment is painfully blatant. It all comes down to money. There is nothing just nor sane except the hideous and unavoidable maxim that money is both the crux and the master of society, and of the social individual.

That is as far as I have read, and it has occurred to me that Morini's monetary revelation will serve as the catalyst to his romance with Norton. He is always so polite when the other two professors discuss their affairs with him (and they always concern Norton), that I can't but help inferring secret guilt. He is not guilty for want of Norton, but guilty, I think, because the dissolution of the trilationship plays to his benefit. Even if he doesn't want to benefit (and I don't think he does, hence the guilt), affairs are benefiting him.

Now, however, Morini is depressed, moreso than before. He is not only depressed, but disillusioned. Typically, this would lead one to deem failure the better option than any futile attempt at success. With Morini, though, failure in one instance demands success in another. Specifically, his failure to appease his friends must now give way to his desire for Norton. He must betray Pelletier, and Espinoza, for the sake of his own selfishness.

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Nice post, Beast.

For mosaic and others when you get to The Part About Amalfitano, what do you make of the voices he hears and the book hanging on the line?

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There are a couple of passages in The Part About Fate worth noting. The first begins: "While Fate was sleeping, there was a report on an American who had disappeared in Santa Teresa, in the state of Sonora in the north of Mexico." People keep asking Fate if he's going to Santa Teresa to report on the crimes, since they assume he is even though he knows nothing about them (yet). The second passage is a speech made by Professor Kessler in a diner, in which he talks about people who aren't considered part of society can be killed in high numbers without anyone really noticing, even though we react with horror and fear when one or two who are die. He goes on to insist that "everyone living in that city is outside of society, and everyone, I mean everyone, is like the ancient Christians in the Roman circus".

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I think the voices that Amalfitano hears indicates that he is a telepath. He has just got done learning about the ancient Chilean telpaths. Of course, from the standpoint of others, he is simply going mad, and this is at least partly true from his own standpoint as well. The book is studded with episodes and references to madness and to insane aslyums; and the people who generally end up there are the poets, the writers, the artists and the seers. The author seems to be suggesting that in a world like ours, that is their proper place, their inevitable destination.

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Here is analysis of telepathy in 2666. I can't vouch for it because I only started reading it, but it looks like it might have some useful insights.

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I think the voices that Amalfitano hears indicates that he is a telepath. He has just got done learning about the ancient Chilean telpaths. Of course, from the standpoint of others, he is simply going mad, and this is at least partly true from his own standpoint as well. The book is studded with episodes and references to madness and to insane aslyums; and the people who generally end up there are the poets, the writers, the artists and the seers. The author seems to be suggesting that in a world like ours, that is their proper place, their inevitable destination.

I have to reread the section. I'm not sure if it will matter later which is why I've held of comment on just what it means. For now, I take it as presented - A's way of coping with the situation he's in, his slow descent into madness ( except he doesn't seem to have 'lost it' in the typical sense). The book on the clothesline I took at face value as well ( taking the piss out of self-important writers, philosophers) but that it stays there day after day gives me pause. I don't know what to think. The Chilean story about telepath still has me baffled but that's perhaps because I've not step outside Amalfitano's own perception of it.

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Finished The Part about Fate. Needless to say, the violence against women ( sexual and otherwise) in this book is wrenching. It never ends and no one does anything - it's an accepted behavior. Horrifying stuff. The plot itself is steadily picking up but the world and characters are still seemingly in a haze, a dense fog and I'm not sure how I'm suppose to take much of this. There are ever more frequent occurrences of dreams seemingly bleeding into reality, strangers that pop in and out and the characters themselves often seeing things that are not there or perplexed about what they just saw. I'm just as befuddled. What? Was there someone there? What the heck is happening? It's riveting really.

I'll have more to say later.

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Finished The Part about Fate. Needless to say, the violence against women ( sexual and otherwise) in this book is wrenching. It never ends and no one does anything - it's an accepted behavior. Horrifying stuff. The plot itself is steadily picking up but the world and characters are still seemingly in a haze, a dense fog and I'm not sure how I'm suppose to take much of this. There are ever more frequent occurrences of dreams seemingly bleeding into reality, strangers that pop in and out and the characters themselves often seeing things that are not there or perplexed about what they just saw. I'm just as befuddled. What? Was there someone there? What the heck is happening? It's riveting really.

I'll have more to say later.

I would say, don't expect any easy or neat resolutions throughout the book. "An oasis of boredom in a desert of horror" really sums things up neatly. As far as violence in general, and specifically violence against women, you're about to read The Part About the Crimes. Welcome to the abyss.

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This is what I initially cut from my last post. I'm not happy with it ( I'm rambling) but I'm interested if there is anything to the technique I claimed to have noticed ( and it has some relevance to David's last point):

Bolano writes in such a way that you're forced to think, to fill in the blanks. What I mean by "think" is not in the dry philosophical sense ( though you do ) but in the literary sense that he leaves many things as asides and makes no overt commentary about them. You're forced to piece together many scenes, to fill in what he has left out. Now, I'm missing a lot of things but I have caught the technique at least. And I make note of it because of its frequency ( after all, all writers do this but it is used in a distinct way here). Consider much of the violence against women in this book and The Part about Fate in particular. They are brief distractions, occurring outside the main plot ( a character, for example, will be passing through a bar and observe a woman being beaten) that will leave you baffled, puzzled. Why does this seem like I'm observing the wind blowing? Just some natural, everyday thing?

Bolano sets you up with a scene. He'll describe a vicious beating but make no overt commentary about it. In fact, he will end the scene with the character leaving and not talking about it. It's aggravatingly abrupt but deliberate. The reader is left to wonder why no one is doing anything and why this all seems so casual. This things happen, life goes on, no one cares.

But this is a general thing throughout the book - many transitions are made between stages of conversations, places, etc. without warning. You're forced to piece together how exactly the characters got there. A new section will start with characters in a different setting where the prior paragraph did not end with them leading there. Only some ways into the next section can you grab your bearings and piece together what happened.

Consider Norton's letter and how it's alternated throughout the end of the chapter about the critics. Take this as an obvious example and apply it to smaller things - many of the changes even with the characters themselves have this quality - one section ends, another begins. A change has occurred but it has not been telegraphed. You have to figure out what just happened and where you are. Overall, it contributes to the surreal, dreamlike quality of the book in many sections. Now, am I imposing my disjointed and confused reading on the book or is there something to what I'm describing?

It's almost a sleight of hand effect. Questions are asked but never answered. Scenarios come up but never resolved. I've noticed this throughout the book but it really come to the fore with Fate changing his mind (again) without any overt discussion or indication and deciding to accompany Guadalupe to the jail. The decision seems spontaneous as he remembers her while thinking about or doing something else. Fast forward a couple sections and Bolano simply begins with him at the jail with Guadalupe. In of itself, this is not really that strange or unique but good lord man, Bolano descriptions of everything to do with the prison and suspect are terribly ominous, literally scary. Instantly, I was reminded of Guadalupe's description of the prison and felt like I was simply thrust into a world of horror. Why this reaction? I mean, he's just visiting a jail - why did I react this way? It's a little amusing to me as it appears Bolano as me by the balls. I'm a nervous wreck, threading lightly as I go through the book expecting the worse at every turn. I suppose this will be confirmed as I go through The Part about Crimes which I'll read in the day time...

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