Thursday, May 28, 2009

Separate and interminable suburbs

If all experience is more than the sum of its parts, is it in any way possible to reconstruct a semblance thereof by analyzing its constituents?

Of course there is.

Around this time, Pelletier and Espinoza, worried about the current state of their mutual lover, had two long conversations on the phone.

Pelletier made the first call, which lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. The second was made three days later by Espinoza and lasted two hours and fifteen minutes. After they'd been talking for an hour and half, Pelletier told Espinoza to hang up, the call would be expensive and he'd call right back, but Espinoza firmly refused.

The first conversation began awkwardly, although Espinoza had been expecting Pelletier's call, as if both men found it difficult to say what sooner or later they would have to say. The first twenty minutes were tragic in tone, with the word fate used ten times and the word friendship twenty-four times. Liz Norton's name was spoken fifty times, nine of them in vain. The word Paris was said seven times, Madrid, eight. The word love was spoken twice, once by each man. The word horror was spoken six times and the word happiness once (by Espinoza). The word solution was said twelve times. The word solipsism seven times. The word euphemism ten times. The word category, in the singular and the plural, nine times. The word structuralism once (Pelletier). The term American literature three times. The words dinner or eating or breakfast or sandwich nineteen times. The words eyes or hands or hair fourteen times. Then the conversation proceeded more smoothly. Pelletier told Espinoza a joke in German and Espinoza laughed, wrapped up in the waves or whatever it was that linked their voices and ears across the dark fields and the wind and the snow of the Pyrenees and the rivers and the lonely roads and the separate and interminable suburbs surrounding Paris and Madrid.


— from 2666, by Roberto Bolaño.

Although I treated myself to a copy of 2666 at around Christmas, I'm only just now getting over the the Bolaño glut I experienced at that time and getting past the intimidation this book carries with it, and getting on with it. To this point, about 100 pages in, I'm loving it, and finding it a much smoother (more cohesive and coherent) read than The Savage Detectives.

I have the 3-volume paperback version, slipcased, chosen with commuting in mind. It's beautifully designed! The image is a detail from Gustave Moreau's Jupiter and Semele, dark, brooding, and apocalyptic; the book title is a bold counterpoint (reminiscent of Wild West posters — Blackoak font?) in vulgar red.

From certain angles (well, most), the only visible writing is 666 (as pictured above).

I've been reading in the métro, and this book has garnered far more inquisitive glances from my fellow passengers than most, struck by its beauty or afeard of my satanic presence.
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