April 1, 2021•355 words
I am halfway through a second reading of 2666 and recently made it to the section which inspired me to read the book again: The Part About the Crimes.
It feels strange to write that I enjoy this section (and I do, immensely), because it is a frantic account of a series of murders of young women in the city of Santa Teresa, the main setting of the novel. It is the longest of five ‘parts’ in the book, and unlike any of the other four which focus on single or small group of characters. The Part About the Crimes reads as a stream of conscious police report.
The girl’s body turned up in a vacant lot in Colonia Las Flores. She was dressed in a white long-sleeved T-shirt and a yellow knee-length skirt, a size too big. Some children playing in the lot found her and told their parents. One of the mothers called the police, who showed up half an hour later. The lot was bordered by Calle Peláez and Calle Hermanos Chacón and it ended in a ditch behind which rose the walls of an abandoned dairy in ruins. There was no one around, which at first made the policemen think it was a joke. Nevertheless, they pulled up on Calle Peláez and one of them made his way into the lot. Soon he came across two women with their heads covered, kneeling in the weeds, praying. Seen from a distance, the women looked old, but they weren’t. Before them lay the body.1
It goes on like this. Hundreds of pages. Interspersed are stories of one or two cops trying to do honest work, a vigilante from America looking for a murdered American woman, and remarkable monologues by a local mystic (a ‘seer’ of those invisible to society at large), as she is interviewed on a popular talk show. The pace and relentlessness of the narration, the depictions of corruption and selfishness, paint a picture of institutional and moral decay sitting upon deep rooted cultural misogyny.
It is breathtaking.
Bolaño, Roberto. 2666 (p. 353). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. ↩