Week 2: pages 51-102

When we left off at the end of week 1, what is ed Morini was sitting in more about +Italian+Gardens&sll=51.506178,-0.207367&sspn=0.200873,0.408554&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Buckingham+Palace+Gardens&ll=51.508208,-0.160203&spn=0.006611,0.012767&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=51.51013,-0.157141&panoid=D96-RJWRNaCmc6kloBm_Uw&cbp=12,212.42,,0,-7.25″>Hyde Park reading Sor Juana’s recipes aloud to a stranger. The next day, Liz Norton tells Morini the story of the tortured artist Edwin Johns, who cut off his own hand and then went mad. Clearly Johns’ story is a metaphor for an idea about the role of the artist, but what do we make of the role of the critic in relation to the artist? Why are these literary critics suddenly talking about painters?

We also learn about the article a Serbian critic published in Pelletier’s academic journal. The Serb’s article details the life of Archimboldi, mainly to confirm Archimboldi’s human, worldly existence. The four critics search for tiny clues in this article and offer their own interpretations of what those clues might mean in terms of where Archimboldi might be located at this very moment and even what Archimboldi might look like.

Liz Norton feels a need to change her life and effectively breaks up with both Pelletier and Espinoza. Despite some awkwardness at subsequent conferences, the two cannot be enemies and remain good friends. Three months later, they decide to pay a visit to Norton in London and then they meet Alex Pritchard. There is some name-calling and tension, but Pritchard leaves them alone. On a later visit, Pritchard tells Pelletier that Norton is The Medusa.

Pelletier and Espinoza continue to worry about the role of love and sex in their lives and what future the pursuit of either brings. In the midst of this, things take a turn toward the dark side. Pelletier and Espinoza get into an argument with a Pakistani cab driver in London and beat the man within an inch of his life. The two critics never felt more alive. Pelletier and Espinoza turn to prostitutes. Pelletier becomes involved with a prostitute named Vanessa. When Pelletier tells Espinoza about this involvement, Espinoza responds: “Whores are there to be fucked—not psychoanalyzed.”

The critics (minus Morini) unite in London and Espinoza tells Norton about the time that the three of them, oh yeah, went to Switzerland to see Edwin Johns. Morini asked Johns why he (Johns) cut off his own hand. Johns leans over and whispers in Morini’s ear and walks away. The next day, Morini has disappeared, fled back home to Italy without saying goodbye. Pelletier and Espinoza cannot reach him by phone for days. Norton tells them that during that time Morini has been in London. Morini tells Norton that Johns cut off his hand “for money.”

During a seminar in Toulouse, the critics meet a Mexican scholar named Rodolfo Alatorre. Alatorre tells Morini that one of his friends in Mexico City saw Archimboldi just the other day. Alatorre tells the story of El Cerdo (the poet Almendro) being called to Archimboldi’s hotel room, to rescue the old German. In the brief glimpse we have of El Cerdo and Archimboldi together, El Cerdo seems like the more charismatic and interesting person because the narration is from his point of view only. Bolaño does not give us access to any of Archimboldi’s thoughts or motivations. Go figure.

Nicole reports that there are no deaths to count this week. However, the gallery owner on page 97 mentions the death of his grandmother, who left him the gallery and may now be haunting it.

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