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I’m Not Dead Yet!

I know Daryl has wiped his hands clean of 2666, and I know I’ve been absent for about a month now, but I wanted to pipe up one last time on that group read before moving on to Moby-Dick. First of all, an apology: I committed myself to this thing and then it eventually got squeezed right out of my week, time and again. I’m sorry for having vanished on y’all.

A couple excuses. The prosaic one is that I simply ran out of time. Let me tell you this sincerely, and may you believe and remember it: The U.S. Census Bureau gets your money’s worth from its employees. (If you read here at Infinite Zombies from someplace beyond our polluted and too-often discouraging U.S. American shores, I’m sure it’s the same by you, mutatis mutandis.) I’m grateful for the employment, but it has pulped me these past weeks, and the 2666 group read was unfortunately not among the residua. I did keep reading, though; I kept my word that far.

Which leads to my next excuse, which is that I simply lost the spirit to continue coming up with narrow, somewhat technical topics to write on. That was about the only tactic that allowed me to grapple with the book—describing only the tail or foot or trunk, willfully blind, leaving the whole elephant studiously ignored in the middle of the room. As I began the Part About Archimboldi, I thought I might finally have a chance to open myself up some to the book. The writing was stylistically…on purpose, there was a plot of sorts, and the deliberate torment seemed to have run its course.

Then came that faggot sea urchin, and I thought to myself, In the context of Nazi Germany—where gay people also were rounded up, sent to work-and-torture camps, forced to wear badges to identify just which kind of disfavored non-citizen they were, and shot when they finally outlived their usefulness to the state—couldn’t Bolaño have laid off that “faggot” shit for a couple hundred pages? But we’ve hashed out the homophobia in this book as well as I think we’re going to, here (although surely the maricón-doesn’t-mean-it-that-way defense is vitiated in a setting outside of Latin America), so I read on. Then came a crucifixion. And then alcoholic children forced to massacre Jews because the grown-ups had killed themselves sick.

I mean really.

And I just couldn’t make myself make time to write about it. Here I admit it: This book defeated me. There were many pleasures in the Part About Archimboldi, perhaps particularly by contrast to what preceded it. But after all that, and with the delicious spice of still more unpredictable brutality with no purpose that revealed itself even to informed investigation, I ran out of things to say. I read to the end, was occasionally moved, and then closed the book with a sigh of relief.

If I even keep it, I doubt I’ll open it again. I’m grateful for the experience of having read it with everyone who participated, I was privileged to read some truly amazing thoughts on the book, and I made some new Internet friends, and that was worth all the rest. But reread 2666? I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to.

(Moby-Dick, on the other hand, I’m raring for.)

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