Monday, March 1, 2010

Reading 2666 by Robert Bolaño – Week Six

This week the online read of 2666 finished The Part About Fate.  At this point we are finished with more than a third of this novel.  In most novels the first third is the set-up, so I suppose we should expect to move into the main part of the story now.    And, sure enough, the next section begins the part about the murdered women.

I’m not really looking forward to that.  It’s a depressing topic and I don’t really have any momentum moving into it. 

A few thoughts:

1.   Rosa Amalfitano makes an appearance in this section, meeting Oscar Fate.   He is quite taken with her although lord knows why.  She seldom says anything interesting, she has terrible taste in men, she puts herself into situations where she could get physically harmed, and she’s stupid enough to do coke.   I fully expected her to end up dead.  Of course we know why Fate is taken with her because he tells us.  He finds her beautiful.   He goes on and on and on about how he finds her beautiful.   And yet he wonders, if a more beautiful woman walked in would he forget about Rosa?  Yes, he thinks.  He would.   What are we supposed to get out of this?  That at least he’s smart enough to know he thinks with his dick?  Truthfully, Bolaño just isn’t a good enough writer to pull this off and make it interesting.   I found myself thinking that the story might get better if Rosa died.   She didn’t.   

2.     Her father remains the only character I find consistently interesting.  He doesn’t like Rosa’s terrible boyfriend.  He likes Fate enough to trust him to get Rosa daughter away from Santa Teresa.  I’d like to know more about Amalfitano.  At the beginning of this section I thought Fate would be an interesting character.  I was wrong.  Most people become boring when they drink too much and Oscar Fate was no different than anyone else.

3.    I think my main frustration with this section is taht I wouldn’t have stayed with these characters in real life for two seconds.  Not because I thought they were dangerous.  But because they were so boring.   The northern United States equivalent of this section would be spending hours with a bunch of drunk and drugged guys who say “Dude!” every two minutes and try to figure out where the best place is to get munchies but who get distracted every time they have a plan.  Lots of driving around with no where to go.  I stopped hanging with people like that 30 years ago, I don’t like movies about them and I don’t have any desire to read about them.    Again, when they got “dangerous” I perked up and thought, at last … something is going to happen.  And then it didn’t.  I was so bored by that time that I was ready for them to kill Rosa just to give them something to do.

4.   I was about ready to give up on this novel (can you tell?).  But the end of this section held a glimmer of interest for me. Fate was approached by a woman journalist who had an appointment at the prison to meet the man who was in prison for the murders.  She was too scared to go alone so she asked him to go too.  (Yet another terrible woman character that Bolaño created.)  I thought he was going to stand her up but he decided to go, with Rosa in tow.  There were scenes at the jail interspersed with scenes of Rosa and Fate heading over the border to Tucson.   For a brief moment I thought maybe we would find out something.  We didn’t.   Of course we didn’t.  We never find out anything in this novel.

5.  Next up is the murders of the women.  I’m not really looking forward to it.  Bolaño writes such terrible women characters that I fear I might be happy to see them all die.    On the other hand, he writes such asshole men that I’m wondering if I’ll make it through.