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 used to be greeted throughout Europe and Latin the United States as his optimum success, surpassing even his earlier 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 pupil 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 1000's of younger manufacturing unit employees, within the novel as in lifestyles, have disappeared.
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Each time Espinoza came up in conversation (which was rare), both adopted a strictly impartial, cautious, and above all friendly tone. Some nights they even fell asleep in each other’s arms without making love, something Pelletier was sure didn’t happen with Espinoza. But he was wrong, because relations between Norton and Espinoza were often a faithful simulacrum of Norton’s relations with Pelletier. The meals were different, better in Paris; the setting and the scenery were different, more modern in Paris; and the language was different, because with Espinoza Norton spoke mostly German and with Pelletier mostly English, but overall the similarities outweighed the differences.
The water in the pool seemed to scale the edges, as if somewhere a squall were brewing or worse, although where Morini was heading everything was calm and silent, and there was no sign of a storm. Soon the fog settled over Morini. At first he tried to keep going, but then he realized that he was in danger of tipping his wheelchair into the pool, and he decided not to risk it. When his eyes had adjusted, he saw a rock jutting from the pool, like a dark and iridescent reef. This didn’t seem strange to him.
Some of the thoughts I had back then still scare me. One day I confronted one of the managers. I told him I was sick of making those idiotic mugs. This manager was a good man, his name was Andy, and he always tried to make conversation with the workers. He asked me whether I’d preferred making the mugs we’d made before. That’s right, I said. Are you serious, Dick? he asked me. Completely serious, I answered. Are the new mugs more work? Not at all, I said, the work is the same, but the fucking mugs didn’t do damage to me this way before.