Week 7: Tidbits

Sometimes the only way to digest this book is in tiny chunks.

Throughout this section we get mentions of many of the colonias in Santa Teresa. Colonias usually have their own postal code, mind but are in not involved in municipal governance. The term barrio is more prevalent in the U.S. than in Mexico.

page 360: “He remembered that his son, who was studying in Phoenix, had once told him that plastic bags took hundreds, maybe thousands of years to disintegrate.” If this is May, 1993, then maybe those bags will be mostly disintegrated by say 2666?

page 372:

The dump didn’t have a formal name, because it wasn’t supposed to be there, but it had an informal name: it was called El Chile. During the day there wasn’t a soul to be seen in El Chile or the surrounding fields soon to be swallowed up by the dump. At night those who had nothing or less than nothing ventured out. In Mexico City they call them teporochos, but a teporocho is a survivor, a cynic and a humorist, compared to the human beings who swarmed alone or in pairs around El Chile.

Another name for these trash-pickers, unique to Mexico, is pepenadores. Teporocho is much more derogatory: it implies a homeless alcoholic, or a drunk layabout. What do you think?

This is really the first section where we start to see talk of “Indians” or native culture in and around the city of Santa Teresa. None of the critics are Mexicans, Amalfitano is from Spain, Fate is from the US, Archimboldi is not Mexican, only the crimes and the criminals are native to the land. Perhaps this section of the novel finally gives us a look at the “real” Santa Teresa. Here are a few of the mentions:
– Page 361: “a young woman with Indian features went in to confess.”
– Page 366: “There used to be an Indian settlement here, remembered the inspector.”
– Page 368: “Three priests and two young Pápago Indian seminarians who where studying anthropology and history at the University of Santa Teresa slept in an adjacent building.
– Page 394: “a Yaqui Indian who almost never talked.”

The most famous Yaqui Indian has got to be Don Juan.


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