You know what? I’m tired of finding quotes in this book. It’s a little game I began with Infinite Jest last summer because I was rereading the book and found some passages so compelling, so central, so clever, or so erudite that I needed to share. Needed to share.
With Bolano’s 2666? I’m kind of over the quotes. Because the novel is both compelling and frustrating, and I don’t want to retype. I want to read and, honestly, finish this damned thing and move on.
The Part about the Crimes: I read the first twenty pages and got pissed, so I went back and made some notes about the chapter’s foci. Nine pages of short descriptions wherein women’s bodies are found dumped unceremoniously, scant details are collected, and cases are closed without substantive investigation. Some of the murders are similar, some are not. Nine pages. Then twelve pages on a guy peeing in churches. Back to the women for three pages. And the serial urinator for three. You know what? I don’t need to be hit over the head with a mallet to know this book is about misogyny. But the mallet is there, nonetheless: “The attacks on [the churches] San Rafael and San Tadeo got more attention in the local press than the women killed in the preceeding months” (366).
Shocking? Nope. The religion dominating the area is well known for being, despite its commandment against false idols, one that supports worship of consecrated land and general disdain for women.
My fury over the casual disregard of hundreds of brutalized and composting women whose lives seem completely meaningless is provoked by the text to make a point. The murderers dump the bodies, the establishment dumps any responsibility for understanding or preventing further deaths. The culture is more fascinated by and upset about symbolic destruction of religion than by actual destruction of humans. Blasphemy is more important than murder. A post-Neitzschean dead God is valued but a postmodern woman is not. Saw that coming a thousand miles away, when the critics flew into Santa Teresa.
Gotta tell you, I’m more than a little angry about the casual discarding of women’s bodies by the murderers and of women’s stories by the narrator. Chalk up this week’s frustration to being way far ahead in the reading and less willing to leaf through 50 pages of macabre bullshit, to being nine months pregnant and a bit protective of women and girls everywhere, or to being frustrated that, while this is a good text that I believe is valuable and necessary, is not the right read for me in search of post-Wallace, post-postmodern enlightenment. But the anger is supposed to move me to action, to changing the state of affairs. To helping, to expressing outrage, to making a difference. And how the f— am I supposed to do that?
I’m just saying…this section pisses me off. I know it’s supposed to. That doesn’t help.
“But somewhere along the way something happened or something went permanently wrong and afterward her mother was told there was a chance she had run off with a man. She’s only sixteen, said her mother, and she’s a good girl. Forty days later some children found her body near a shack in Colonia Maytoprena. Her left hand rested on some guaco leaves. Due to the state of the body, the medical examiner was unable to determine the cause of death. One of the policemen present at the removal of the body, however, was able to identify the guaco plant. It’s good for mosquito bites, he said, crouching down and plucking some little green leaves, pointed and tough.” (375.)