Follows Amalfitano, exiled Chilean university professor and widower with a teenage daughter, as his political disillusionment and love of poetry lead to the scandal that will force him to flee from Barcelona and take him to Santa Teresa, Mexico. It is here, in this border town, that Amalfitano meets Arcimboldi, a magician and writer whose work highlights the provisional and fragile nature of literature and life.
Calvino notes in his Six Memos that Borges began writing fiction as a particular exercise; he would imagine philosophical novels that had been poorly translated into Spanish and write synopses of such. Bolaño's own inchoate 20 year project most likely gave birth to 2666. I can't state that categorically, but Greg thinks so and I tend to agree. Call it a hunch. Jesus, this project is so evocative and such a mess. I found myself gasping in marvel, which is a rare feat these days. Strike that, over the last decade, I seldom go, "whoa". I did here.
My friend Harold Maier who owned Louisville's Twice Told Books for over 25 years asked me this last fall about Bolaño. I told him I always felt that I wasn't connecting completely when reading him, there was an aura of mishearing at play. That said, I couldn't stop thinking about him. That presence remains.
Life, of course, which puts the essential books under our noses only when they are strictly essential, or on some cosmic whim.