2666 on the Stage

This is old news in Spain, but news to me. In November 2007, Teatre Lliure in Barcelona presented a five-hour theatrical adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s masterwork, 2666.

This video shows a few brief clips of the production (complete with a blood-covered corpse in the desert). IYI, Liz Norton is played by Chantal Aimée and Rosa Amalfitano is played by Cristina Brondo. Directed by Alex Rigola, the play is described as “an inquiry about the stark human wickedness between humor and horror.” There is also an impressive PDF dossier (in English) that includes press clippings, reviews, photos, and interviews with the director.

how did this project come about?

I really wanted to tell a new, contemporary story, and my fascination for Bolaño’s work, and in particular for this novel, pushed me to do it, because it allows you to do a lot of stage-work. A  play has a life of its own, it’s not really the novel any more, the materials are very different.  The type of poetry you can produce in a novel is completely different from the poetry of the  stage. In an adaptation you start with one material, one set of contents and an underlying story, but the way of telling it is very different. I believe the project makes sense because the story is only relatively well-known. If it was a novel that absolutely everybody had read, then I would have to think again, but very few people have actually read it, amongst other things because its sheer size is off-putting.

Now I just need to build a time machine so that I can go back to 2007, fly to Barcelona, and learn Spanish enough to enjoy this.

The Tinajero poem on a pen

Bolanobolano reader Matt Reese had the nib of a fountain pen engraved with Cesarea Tinajero’s “poem” from The Savage Detectives.

Here is a good shot of the poem in the book and on the pen:

And here is a close-up of the pen.

Awesome, Matt! Thanks for sharing.

More on the Cover Design of 2666

[Update: bad link removed]

According to Strick, hardcover and paperback editions usually try to appeal to different audiences. Hardcovers, in general, are geared toward older readers, while paperbacks attract younger, thriftier buyers. Paperbacks are often redesigned to reach an audience the previous cover didn’t. But FSG decided to do something different with 2666: they released the hardcover and slipcase paperback editions at the same time, both set at the same price.

“I thought the paperback design would appeal to Bolano’s underground audience, but when I last checked, the hardcover was selling better,” Strick said. “I asked my editor, who thought that because the slipcase had to be shrink-wrapped, people felt more comfortable buying the other edition.”

The two new novels

This is sort of old news, but back in March it was reported that two new novels and a sixth section of 2666 had been found among Bolano’s papers. The Spanish paper La Vanguardia reported that the archive of papers contains poems, diaries, and “un puzle de narraciones.” The titles of the novels are apparently entitled Diorama and The Troubles of the Real Police (or the Murderers of Sonora).

The Vanguardia also tells us that

The first time Roberto Bolano wrote the name of Benno von Archimboldi was in 1988

But, about that “sixth section” of 2666, the Vanguardia explains that Bolano saved multiple drafts of his books and rewrote things several times. This leads to some equivocation:

Entre el laberinto de borradores, hay una version mas reducida de Los detectives salvajes y un bloque homogéneo, que podría considerarse la sexta novela de 2666. El escritor dejó en una nebulosa por qué Amalfitano, el especialista en la obra de Benno von Archimboldi, abandonó Barcelona para ir a dar clases al fin del mundo, a Santa Teresa (trasunto de Ciudad Juarez), “un oasis de horror en medio de un desierto de aburrimiento”. En el mecanoscrito hallado ahora se desvela el misterio de su fuga, un motivo sorprendente que explica muchos cabos sueltos del personaje, y que adquiere, así, a la luz de este texto, nueva dimensión.

So, it’s not entirely clear if Bolano wrote this as backstory about Amalfitano moving from Barcelona to Santa Teresa and decided not to include it with the overall book(s), or if there was just some poor editorial curation and, in fact, The Part About Amalfitano should be quite a bit longer. Either way, I don’t think we’ll see a “sixth section” emerge. This chunk of text would, it follows, be incorporated into The Part About Amalfitano (the shortest of the five sections).

Andrew Wylie showed another posthumous novel called The Third Reich was to publishers at the Frankfurt Buchmesse last fall. Apparently Bolano wrote everything longhand until 1995 when he bought his first computer. One of the files found on that computer was 60 pages of retyped longhand of this novel The Third Reich. Because Bolano himself had started retyping it, it is presumed he wanted to see it published.

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