This is probably due, in part, to my abandoning the desire to understand what's going on at any given point in the action of the novel. Perhaps every episode and encounter in some way informs our understanding of the book as a whole, but to a great extent this connection is lost on me. What I do perceive is a general sense of what the book points toward, and how it seems to be unfolding.
First off, some initial thoughts about The Part About Fate. Reading the description of Fate's mother (and I suppose the joke's on those of us who read the name for this Part and thought it referred to kismet) and her neighbor, laid out after their respective deaths, I couldn't help but be reminded of Wallace Stevens' great poem "The Emperor of Ice Cream." The imagery of death, with its finality and attendant mourning, is stark and unsettling.
Very briefly, I still am not entirely thrilled with what seems to be a preoccupation on Bolaño's part with homosexuality (Fate's musings about the man on the Springeresque talk show and Chucho Flores) and was not particularly happy to see yet another use of "faggot" (page 257), which felt dangerously close to gratuitous. On the other hand, Bolaño's bone-dry description of why Mexicans are short as a result of genetic ineptitude on the part of the colonizing Spaniards struck me as appallingly funny in a way that probably rubs some women the wrong way, so I'll try not to make too much of it.
It seems increasingly clear to me that the crimes are the crucial Part to understanding 2666. As we get closer to them, various aspects of the previous Parts become more clear. The critics, who live in a rarified space, come to Santa Teresa for their own ends, and for whatever effect it has on them they do not see the reality that stretches before them. Amalfitano feels the imminent dread of the place, but is impotent to stop it. Even the cynical self-mutilation of Edwin Johns and the pugnacious posturing of Marco Antonio Guerra seem faintly ridiculous in the livid light that gleams over the action of the novel. Thus far Fate appears to be the only character with any intention of actually seeing the crimes, who chooses to turn his attention toward them.
We'll see how this plays out for him in the last half of this Part.
[Blogger is apparently eliminating the paragraph breaks for the latter half of this post. I realize nobody but me cares, yet it is driving me to distraction. *shakes fist impotently at screen*]
Update: Those of you who are here via the main Bolaño page, please accept my hearty apologies for what appears to be a triple posting on my part. Truly, I am beset with blogging gremlins today.