2666: pages 231-290

I think I'm beginning to get this book. Maybe. While I can't say that love it, I think I begin to understand why it has earned its acclaim.

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.


  1. Great post, Dan. Much agreed on all points!! I was thrilled to see that we came to so many of the same conclusions independently.

    I mentioned in a comment at the mothership (mine get eaten over there too, and Matt has to go and restore them later, which is I bet what happened to yours) that the Spanish version uses the word "Fate" and not like "Destino" or something, so it has a quite different feeling to the English version. Not so in-your-face. Also yes: WHY is he called Oscar Fate?! I wonder if we will find out.

  2. I'm not sure how I feel about your paragraph breaks, Dan, but I will add that to my long list of things to analyze so that nobody can care about my opinion.
    I wish that feeling from the opening, the discomfort of the death and the coffee cup and the neighbors continued through the chapter. Instead he seems more unsettled in Detroit and in Mexico, and I am just overwhelmed at how this story keeps swirling. I feel nauseated reading it (no doubt the crimes are gonna be a barrel of fun for me) because there is no center---moral, logical, personal. It's all just out at sea.
    dorkismo's point about the translation is apt...I forgot about translation in this section, though felt it keenly in The Part about Amalfitano. I just figured it was Fate's journalistic pen name, in a periodical justifiably mocked in the text for being *another* dawn, when the community wants to talk about dusk.
    I know I'm supposed to, but I absolutely distrust Chucho and Charly. To the point of continuing Fate's nausea throughout the section.

  3. Dan, I'm glad to see you went for the Stevens, because I caught myself looking for a dresser made of deal. And I agree completely about the preoccupation (good word for it) with homosexuality. I see a lot more masculinity issues going on in this section than in the Part About Amalfitano (I mean: boxing), so I can see a bit more of a place for it, but it's still got me...edgy.

    Naptime, I'm with you on much preferring the early part of this section to the remainder. That had some gravity of its own; I understood why I was reading it. And then all the rest happened.

  4. Hi there! Found your blog while looking for comments on the queer aspect of the work.

    I'm gay too, the "faggot" namecalling rubbed me the wrong way, though I loved the flow of his prose. This part was illuminating, it's now apparent that Bolaño treats his characters like Camus. He makes you shudder, and it forces you into analysing the book. The moral ambiguity (ex. Espinoza crying after beating the Pakistani, Amalfitano being gay in "Woes Of The True Policeman") makes it all the more haunting. Bolaño wants you to be actively critical, and to be wary of the occasionally subtle forms prejudice takes.

    (I know you finished the book quite a while ago. Please don't spoil anything! :b)