El Cerdo & Archimboldi in Mexico City

In this section of the novel, Bolano gives us a nice little tour of some of the tourist sites in Mexico City. The story that Alatorre tells the critics is that:
1. El Cerdo received a call telling him to go to a hotel near the airport.

2. El Cerdo meets Hans Reiter/Archimboldi there. Eventually El Cerdo asks if he’d like to take a drive around Mexico City or go out for a drink. It’s two in the morning. Archimboldi has a flight to Hermosillo at 7 am.

The airport in Mexico City is called Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez and it’s not on the outskirts of town: it’s right in the middle of things. It borders ten small neighborhoods and two industrial zones. There are several large chain hotels facing the airport or on the airport grounds: the Hilton, the Ramada, the Fiesta Inn, the Camino Real.

3. El Cerdo takes him to Plaza Garibaldi, a mecca of mariachi music.

4. El Cerdo takes Archimboldi to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s Central Square.

5. They wander over to the Plaza de Santo Domingo.

6. El Cerdo drives them down to the iconic Angel statue on Avenue Reforma, but it’s too dark to see the angel at the top of the monument.

7. They head back to the hotel and El Cerdo drops Archimboldi off at the airport.

Here is a map that shows roughly the route they take from the airport to Plaza Garibaldi, to the Zocalo, the Plaza Santo Domingo, the Angel statue, and then back to the airport hotel (I am doing some guesswork on the driving route here).

View El Cerdo y Archimboldi in a larger map

Week 3: Deaths

by Michael Cooler

Deaths in the last section of The Part About The Critics (pages 102 – 159):

No actual “deaths” but references to the murders in Mexico.

p. 137 – “Then Espinoza remembered that the night before, one of the boys had told them the story of the women who were being killed. All he remembered was that the boy had said there were more than two hundred of them and he’d had to repeat it two or three times because neither Espinoza nor Pelletier could believe his ears.”

“From 1993 or 1994 to the present day…And many more women might have been killed. Maybe two hundred and fifty or three hundred.”

This is information that the critics were not aware of.  Bolano has presented the critics as fairly insular up to this point, and finally they are getting a glimpse of the world around them. Espinoza reacts to the news by throwing up in a bathroom stall, while an ominous voice soothes Espinoza.  What are we to make of this?  To Espinoza, the voice seems like a comfort, but there is also something sinister in the voice that says “That’s all right, buddy, go ahead and puke.”  Almost as if the next thing this voice might say is, “And then step out of the stall and I’ll cut your throat.”  But Espinoza is still so privileged or fortunate that he does not detect an evil tone in the voice he hears.

p. 151 “As they drank Cuba libres, Rebeca told him that two of the girls who later showed up dead had been kidnapped on their way out of the club. Their bodies were dumped in the desert.” Espinoza gets unknowingly close to death with Rebeca at the dance club.  Here Bolano further places the aloof character of Espinoza in close proximity to real and dangerous violence.  Espinoza and Pelletier have been safe in their upscale hotel, but now Espinoza is brushing cheeks with the death that exists in Santa Teresa (although as a wealthy person he will escape Santa Teresa as Rebeca and the women of the city cannot).

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