Nothing cerebral about this at all, an entirely subjective view of pages 291 through 349, The Part About Fate. . .
Roberto Bolaño had to be a true fan of films. He was clearly inspired in part by film when he undertook this section and appears to have attempted to create in print the atmosphere of film noir. This recreation is complete with a retrospective voice-over at the very beginning of this part as we pan in on a reporter at work at his desk in New York. I know I mentioned this before, but I liked it.
Actually, I think he succeeded in recreating the atmosphere of a descendant of film noir. Fate discussed David Lynch with the desk clerk at page 339. The atmosphere of this part reminded me most of a David Lynch film that they did not mention, Blue Velvet, a film that truly freaked me out when I first saw it lo, these many years ago.
While we are on the subject of that desk clerk, I was struck by something he said:
“Every single thing in this country is an homage to everything in the world, even the things that haven’t happened yet,” he said.
It was as if he were telling us, “This all will be playing at a theater near you soon, folks.”
At any rate we went into Charly Cruz’s house at page 319 with everybody a little popped after the boxing match and a night out in the nether world of Santa Teresa. I experienced suspense. I admit it. I am probably the most cooperative reader around. I willingly suspend my disbelief at the drop of a hat. When Oscar encountered the Virgin of Guadalupe in the garage on the way in, I saw it as a portent. Something was going to happen for a change. It was only later when Oscar saw her again on the way out that I concluded the Virgin of color had blessed the man of color with a wink.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has historically blessed violence in the service of a sacred cause many times. When we saw what I took to be the first reel of a snuff film, another video fragment, and Rosa Amalfitano had disappeared in that house somewhere, I wanted Oscar to do something. I wanted Oscar to be the first major character in 323 pages to do something. If the only thing Oscar held sacred was beauty in the form of a pretty girl with perfect features, that was good enough for me.
I realize now that I was reading these scenes from the point of view of the other Oscar, Óscar Amalfitano. I myself am a father with beautiful daughters who sometimes did not display the sense that God gave an eel when they were younger. I did not want to know everything they did either, as long as they could handle it. But this was a different deal here. Little Rosa Amalfitano had gotten in over her head.
So then, what did my man do? (He suddenly became my man.) He dropped Corona with one punch and picked up his handgun. Count Pickett he may not have been, but my man had some stopping power in that fist. He had strained to let fly at somebody several times earlier in this part. He chose the perfect time and place to land one. In these new circumstances that sick Chucho Flores was immediately cured of his psychotic possessiveness. Good for a quick, bitter laugh for me.
It was a good little piece of violence, cathartic after the suspense. “Cathartic.” A pissant English Department kind of word. Actually, I wanted to smell some cordite in the air. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need. Isaac Hayes was singing the Theme from Shaft in my head. I am a sucker for stuff like this.
I still do not understand, however, why Oscar and Rosa gave that jerk Chucho Flores a ride to the bus stop though.
A satisfying conclusion for me, too. Óscar Amalfitano finally found the wherewithal to do something. Calm did not let him down. It made no difference whether the guy in front of the house was a cop or a greaser. Amalfitano did well in diverting his attention after fixing up Rosa with some money and telling them to get out of there. And we were on the way to the border.
”They’re good people, friendly, hospitable. Mexicans are hardworking, they’re hugely curious about everything, they care about people, they’re brave and generous, their sadness isn’t destructive, it’s life giving,” said Rosa Amalfitano as they crossed the border into the United States.
“Will you miss them?” asked Fate.
I’ll miss my father and I’ll miss the people,” said Rosa.
Such a truly cheap trick that by Bolaño. Still, it more than worked for me.
I sat back and relaxed in the sun. Rosa was out of there. Her father will never demand that she return to visit him in that mental lockup in Santa Teresa or Hermosillo. Nor will he forbid it either. But hopefully—a hope not entirely justified by the facts available—I clung to the thought that she will develop good sense, take comfort that Professor Pérez will visit her father regularly, and stay the hell out of there herself. Her father will be entirely satisfied with letters from her as he was with Lola. That scenario is not so bad, as he himself said.
If all this had to be purchased at some amorphous psychic cost to Oscar, that simply made him all the more admirable to me.
As for Rosa Méndez, Schopenhauer’s woman–she likes to have fun; life is short–Rosita is clearly going down. But we cannot save everyone, can we?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Interspersed with this is the story of Guadalupe Roncal, yet another reporter pulled out of her normal milieu, the city desk, and transformed into an anonymous crime reporter—after the real crime reporter had been tortured and murdered.
No one pays attention to these killings, but the secret of the world is hidden in them.
It is through Ms. Roncal that we met Nietzsche’s Superman. If I had to interview Nietzsche’s Superman, I would not know what questions to ask him either. I cannot help but think that we will learn something more about the nature of that party going on back there in the cell block when he first appeared.
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