. . . 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.

08 March 2010

Pages 353-404: Lalo I

How can we not be favorably disposed toward Olegario Cura Expósito, a sixteen-year-old kid raised in poverty in Villaviciosa who displays integrity and no small amount of courage? And how does he make it out of poverty? Through his skill and courage amid violence. La locura. Lunacy.

Through him we are introduced to the two scumbags who are also bodyguards for Pedro Rengifo's wife, one from the state of Jalisco and the other from Chihuahua—Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua, to be exact. I do not recall any other mention of Ciudad Juárez to this point in the book.

Santa Teresa is in the state of Sonora.

Lalo's Desert Eagle .50 Magnum manufactured in Isreal. Magazine holds seven rounds in the .50 cal. Action Express version.

Latest U.S. State Department Travel Alert, 22 February 2010.

Pages 353-404: Another Journalist Out Of His Element

We learned earlier that Oscar Fate's usual beat is “[p]olitical things that affect the African-American community. Social things.” Page 311. Now he is reporting a boxing match and wants to do some crime reporting.

We learned earlier that Guadalupe Roncal's previously wrote for the city section at her big Mexico City newspaper and almost never got a byline. Quite suddenly she has become a crime reporter. Page 297.

Now, in this section, we meet Sergio González, who is normally an arts writer for the Mexico City newspaper La Razón. He is on assignment in Santa Teresa to do a story on The Penitent, an assignment given him as a favor so that he can get some fresh air, earn some extra money, and forget about his wife. Page 376.

07 March 2010

Circo Internacional

The Part About the Critics at page 131:

The circus was called Circo Internacional and some men who were raising the big top with a complicated system of cords and pulleys (or so it seemed to the critics) directed them to the trailer where the owner lived.

The Part About Fate at page 303:

There was no one at the Arena del Norte. The main door was closed. On the walls were some posters, already faded, advertising the Fernández-Picket fight. Some had been torn down and others had been covered by new posters pasted up by unknown hands, posters advertising concerts, folk dances, and even a circus calling itself Circo Internacional.


Still, the critics liked the market, and even though they weren't planning to buy anything, in the end Pelletier picked up a clay figurine of a man sitting on a stone reading the newspaper, for next to nothing. The man was blond and two little devil horns sprouted from his forehead.

Page 125.

Then the man vanished and he was left alone. He [Fate] got up and went over to the edge of the arbor, next to the foosball tables. One team was dressed in white T-shirts and green shorts and had black hair and very light-colored skin. The other team was in red, with black shorts, and all the players had full beards. The strangest thing, though, was that the players on the red team had tiny horns on their foreheads. The other two tables were exactly the same.

Page 305.

In the end, I have to think that this is just silliness and not worthy of the book. Cheap-assed devil imagery.

Pages 353-404: Mexican Zoetrope

I speculated in the Fourth Installment entry about the possibility that when Bolaño was writing the passages concerning Professor Kessler and Hugh Thomas's book, The Slave Trade, he was considering how he might use words in the service of revelation rather than avoidance in writing The Part About the Crimes.

Then Matt in his Tidbits piece got me focused on Professor Plateau and his invention that ultimately lead to the zoetrope.

I have finished my second reading of pages 353 through 404 of The Part About the Crimes. I originally gauged Bolaño's intentions here to be to bring to each of these murder victims some small identity—to force us to contemplate them each individually for a moment. Words in the service of revelation rather than avoidance. I still think that.

However, as the crime victims fluttered by me this time, they became as individual images in an animation machine and a kind of persistent perception was implanted in my mind. The victims blended back together again into one image. The body of a young woman with long hair, about five feet seven inches tall (tall for a Mexican woman), partially clothed, lying out in some vacant area along with garbage. But the odd thing is that there is no resulting animation. All is still.

Vacant Lots