. . . but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.

05 March 2010

A Pause to Ponder the Structure of the Thing

As far as the relationship of the first three parts, it now seems a pretty straightforward thing. In the first part we are introduced to Archimboldi in absentia through the critics. We then travel with them to Mexico and ultimately Santa Teresa in their search for the elusive author. With the critics in Mexico, we make the acquaintance of Amalfitano and Marco Antonio Guerra, as well as a couple of lesser characters at the University.

The critics then fade out and Amalfitano fades in along with Marco Antonio Guerra. The Part About Amalfitano is extremely dense and permeated with what I see as Amalfitano's growing mental instability marked by premonitions and vague telepathic impressions of Rosa's growing danger in Santa Teresa.

Then Amalfitano fades out temporarily and Oscar Fate appears on the scene. Fate is the ultimate outsider—he does not even speak Spanish—and we experience first hand through Fate's imperfect perceptions the real netherworld of Santa Teresa as he rescues Rosa. Amalfitano again plays a role at the end of this part in financing and facilitating their escape.

With that we leave all of the characters from the first three parts with the exceptions of the German publisher's wife in Germany—and of course, Archimboldi himself. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 5 tie together structurally quite nicely—not in any traditional way—but quite nicely. There is a beautiful symmetry as we travel back to Santa Teresa toward the end of the novel, first with Superman's mother and then with his uncle, Archimboldi. . .

On second thought, let's not use the word "symmetry." We will think of another word.

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