(Wow, I wonder what lolañocats would look like. “Foreboding, I has it.”)
Being busier this week than I’ve become accustomed to, I find that most of the coherent interesting bits from this week’s reading have already been pretty ably covered by my fellow Zombies and readers-along-with. So it’s the blogger-laggard’s way out for me, with a miscellany!
My strongest feeling about this section is relief for Rosa Amalfitano. When she was first introduced in the Part About Amalfitano (“Hard to believe, but true”), I found myself suddenly very afraid for her. After all, the Part About the Critics clearly takes place after (at least most of) the Part About Amalfitano, but when the critics visited Óscar at his home, there was no mention of Rosa or of the house’s apparently being inhabited by a young woman—even though Oscar Fate observes in the house “a clearly feminine air” when he goes there (342). So maybe it was just the critics being supremely unobservant, but maybe it was something much more sinister. Without having the timeline much cleared up (quick, where does Fate and Rosa’s getaway fit in with the timing of the critics’ trip to Santa Teresa?), I at least now have the comfort of knowing Rosa got out of the country alive.
That ending was a lot of fun. In a way it reminds me of the end of Infinite Jest, actually. We’ve got a buildup to an event—the interview with the prisoner, in this case—and the aftermath of that event, but the text denies us the event itself. (Because it’s good, I direct interested readers to Jeff Paris’s discussion of the similarly structured ending of IJ.) I have my doubts about the conclusiveness of anything Fate and Rosa and Guadalupe Roncal might have learned from the prisoner, mostly because I find it straight-up derisible that an imprisoned American would be responsible for the killings of all those Mexican women. How convenient for the authorities! (As long as they’re willing to push a Big Lie.)
But I do think it’s very interesting, formally, that Bolaño hops around the interview so much, slingshotting right past it at first and then avoiding it so assiduously that it starts to acquire this amazing gravitational pull. Then just when it has finally bent the text toward it so that we readers arrive right at the brink, and the prisoner invites Guadalupe Roncal to ask him whatever she wants—such openness, such possibility finally for some damn information, some direct answers—there’s that extraordinary hitch at the threshold of revelation: “Guadalupe Roncal raised her hand to her mouth, as if she were inhaling a toxic gas, and she couldn’t think what to ask.” Immediate curtain down on the Part About Fate, turn two pages, and boom: “The girl’s body turned up in a vacant lot in Colonia Las Flores.” We can certainly think of things to ask, and we’re plunged right into what I suspect will be more answers than we could possibly want. It’s a great trick, writing-wise, and I think it might be the most impressive thing for me yet about this book.
And actually, I think that’s a nice place to end. Makes up for last week and puts a tighter bow on the post than I expected. I am Jeff Anderson, and I approve of the very last bit of the Part About Fate.