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From The Book of Disquietude:

Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world, and since it is the spirit that travels, it is in the  spirit it is experienced. That is why there exists contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally. The end result is what matters. What one felt is what one experienced. One retires to bed as wearily from having dreamed as from having done physical labor. One never lives so intensely as when one has Been thinking hard.

   Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

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” . . . I should tell you of the hidden Berenice, the city of the just, handling makeshift materials in the shadowy rooms behind the shops and beneath the stairs, linking a network of wires and pipes and pulleys and pistons and counterweights that infiltrates like a climbing plant among the great cogged wheels (when they jam, a subdued ticking gives warning that a new precision mechanism is governing the city)”

– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities , quoted in The Just Metropolis

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Photo by Jay Maude

This city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the coursers of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightening rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”

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In the sprawling grandiose novel by Roberto Bolaño, 2666 the town of Santa Teresa is a stand in for Ciudad Juárez. The NPR radio show Day to Day is doing a series about the problem of violence in Ciudad Juárez. It is a three part series, I have heard the first two.

The focus of the radio segments is the gang violence, but the deaths of the 400+  and disappearance of over 4000 women over the last ten years predates the gang violence and might be considered the opening act. These are gritty  realistic reports of a horrendous situation.

Anyone who has read 2666 should listen to the series, Bolaño  has taken the facts and made them the  integral to the novel.   I have written more about 2666 at Text By NorthWest

The dark core of the novel focuses on Saint Teresa which is a fictional representation of Ciudad Juárez, the border town, site of many grisly murders of women and girls. These murders are fictionalized and documented by Bolaño and make for difficult reading. 2666 is both linear and a non-linear in style. It consists of stories within stories, many of the characters tell stories to each other or relate dreams to the reader. It makes for a complex plot.

The center of the novel called The Part About The Crimes is more realistic less poetic more like reportage. The real Ciudad Juárez is a part of a vast “Metroplex” of more than 2 million people. It is in the juncture of three states Texas, New Mexico and Chilhuahua Mexico. It is the largest border community in the world and is growing at an astounding 5% a year. In 2666 Ciudad Juárez is a nightmare world.

I would be very interested in what others think about an Bolaño  intentions and how well the novel conveys those intentions.

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2666 published posthumously in Spain in 2004 one year after the death of Mr. Bolaño, the now famous and celebrated Chilean author, is a complex and convoluted tale with a grand and dark cast of characters.

“ I conceive, in a very humble way, the totality of my oeuvre in prose, and even some of my poetry, as a whole. A whole not only stylistic, but also narrative. The characters are continously dialoging among them and they are appearing and dissapearing. “ – Robert Bolaño

If Mr. Bolaño is describing his complete body of work in the above quote, 2666 must be considered the Mother Lode. 2666 and Bolaño other work can be consider a break from the cliched “Magic Realism” popular in Latin American Fiction. Bolaño and authors like Ignacio Padilla have choosen to leave the magic behind and focus more on character and plot ala Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges.

2666 is broken into multiple sections or novellas that placed together make a whole. The dark core of the novel focuses on Saint Teresa which is a fictional representation of Ciudad Juárez, the border town, site of many grisly murders of women and girls. These murders are fictionalized and documented by Bolaño and make for difficult reading. 2666 is both linear and a non-linear in style. It consists of stories within stories, many of the characters tell stories to each other or relate dreams to the reader. It makes for a complex plot.

The center of the novel called The Part About The Crimes is more realistic less poetic more like reportage. The real Ciudad Juárez is a part of a vast “Metroplex” of more than 2 million people. It is in the junture of three states Texas, New Mexico and Chilhuahua Mexico. It is the largest border community in the world and is growing at an astounding 5% a year. In 2666 Ciudad Juárez is a nightmare world.

I can’t conclude this brief review with out a few words of praise for the translator Natasha Wimmer. She has done a herculean job and done it well.

Reprinted from Text Northwest

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Nightwaves on BBC has a one hour show devoted to Martin Amis and JG Ballard. I am familiar with Amis only by reputation. His newest book is entitled the Second Plane and it focus on the impact and meaning of 9/11. His interest seems to be sexuality, repression, and Islam criticism. I can’t comment about about Amis or his ideas, listen to him if you are interested.

jgballard JG Ballard however is one of my favorites. I grew up reading his apocalyptic novels, Drowned World, Crystal World, The Wind from No Where and others works. These novels helped shape my imagination and prepare me for this era of Global Warming and drastic change we see in our physical environment today.

Ballard talks about his life and the books he has written about his youth in Shanghai. Ballard is one of the great critics of the 20th century, the books he has written in the 1990s and the last ten years are science fiction about the present. I recommend Super Cannes . Ballard’s work shines a light on the dark side of technology and consumerism. It can be shocking and disorienting.

I found this interview via http://www.ballardian.com/ one of my favorite blogs. Photo credit belongs to Catfunkt.

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