. . . 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.

18 May 2010

The Mummy

With that overview of The Part About Archimboldi, let us take a look at some of the details.

The part opens with a description of “the mummy” in the bed next to Reiter's father in that military hospital of long ago. This figure, the mummy, is eerily reminiscent of “the man in white” in the hospital bed next to Yossarian in Catch 22. You remember that man in white. He had a jar connected to a tube that dripped fluid into him and another connected to a tube that eliminated liquid waste.

When the jar on the floor was full, the jar feeding his elbow was empty, and the two were simply switched quickly so that stuff could be dripped back into him.

Catch 22, page 18.

It is difficult for me to believe that Bolaño was not familiar with Joseph Heller's man in white when he wrote these passages about the mummy.

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