By Roberto Bolaño
THE POSTHUMOUS MASTERWORK FROM “ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST INFLUENTIAL MODERN WRITERS” (JAMES WOOD, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) Composed within the final years of Roberto Bola?o’s existence, 2666 was once greeted throughout Europe and Latin the US as his maximum success, surpassing even his past paintings in its strangeness, attractiveness, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters comprises lecturers and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage scholar and her widowed, mentally risky father. Their lives intersect within the city sprawl of SantaTeresa—a fictional Ju?rez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, the place countless numbers of younger manufacturing facility employees, within the novel as in lifestyles, have disappeared.
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Pelletier’s and Espinoza’s explanation was much more plausible: the Swabian as the noble lady’s lover, even though she could have been his grandmother. The Swabian trudging each afternoon to the house of the lady who had traveled to Buenos Aires, to fill his belly with charcuterie and biscuits and cups of tea. The Swabian massaging the back of the former cavalry captain’s widow, as the rain lashed the windows, a sad Frisian rain that made one want to weep, and although it didn’t make the Swabian weep, it made him pale, and he approached the nearest window, where he stood looking out at what was beyond the curtains of frenzied rain, until the lady called him, peremptorily, and the Swabian turned his back on the window, not knowing why he had gone to it, not knowing what he hoped to see, and just at that moment, when there was no one at the window anymore and only a little lamp of colored glass at the back of the room flickering, it appeared.
Espinoza wrote a goodbye note. Pelletier glanced at it and after thinking for a few seconds, decided to leave another note himself. Before they left he asked Espinoza whether he didn’t want to shower. I’ll shower in Madrid, Espinoza answered. The water is better there. True, said Pelletier, although his reply struck him as stupid and appeasing. Then the two of them left without making a sound and had breakfast at the airport, as they’d done so many times before. On the plane back to Paris, Pelletier began to think, inexplicably, about the Berthe Morisot book he’d wanted to slam against the wall the night before.
At the bottom he seemed to make out the figure of a woman (though it was impossible to be sure) heading toward the slope of rock. Morini was about to shout again and wave when he sensed someone at his back. Two things were instantly certain: the thing was evil and it wanted Morini to turn around and see its face. Carefully, he backed away and continued around the pool, trying not to look at whoever was following him, searching for the ladder that might take him down to the bottom. But of course the ladder, which should logically be in a corner, never appeared, and after he had rolled a few feet Morini stopped and turned and looked into the stranger’s face, controlling his fear, a fear all the worse for his dawning certainty that he knew the person following him, who gave off a stench of evil that Morini could hardly bear.
2666: A Novel by Roberto Bolaño