There is an excellent summary of this week’s reading over on Ijustreadaboutthat:

There were seven killings in August 1995—one of whom was killed by her stepfather. The rest were unsolved.

Epifanio returns briefly to bemoan that judiciales never find a case.  And he reveals that he swiped an address book that no one even bothered to ask about or to use for evidence. Of course, he didn’t do anything with it either.

And next Sergio Gonzalez returns briefly. I loved the joke that arts reports were considered faggots “(assthetes, they called them)” (464) and I wonder if that was original in the Spanish or of that is just an awesome translation.

[Our library has a copy of 2666 in Spanish, so I’m delighted to have been able to look up this word. The page numbering is different (of course) and I’m delighted that even with my minimal Spanish, I was able to track down this section with relative ease. I would never bother working on any other translation in the book, but this word really stood out. And so, in the original, we get “(periodistas <<pulturales>>, los llamaban)” (581). Using Google translate I’m getting the “pul” part to mean neatness/fastdiousness and the “ultrales” means culture. It’s a funny joke in Spanish but I love that Natasha Wimmer came up with “assthetes.” What a great translation.]

Excellent! Go read it!

Week 8: Speaking words of wisdom: Let it Be

by Maria Bustillos

she wasn’t ashamed of being what she was, because what God takes away the Virgin restores, and when that’s the way it is, it’s impossible not to be at peace with the world.

The extraordinary person of Florita Almada appears right after the terrible murder and burning of Silvana Perez Arjona by Carlos Llonas.  This Llonas is, “according to his friends,”:

a good-natured man, a drinker but not a drunk, and a person who read books in his spare time, which was unusual and gave him the aura of someone exceptional.

Though the jealous Llonas’s “exceptional” cultivation didn’t prevent him from stabbing Silvana Arjona in the chest and setting fire to her dead body any more than their elevated nid-nodding over Archimboldi prevented Pelletier and Espinoza from beating a Pakistani cab driver half to death.  Llonas observes, after he is arrested and confesses to the crime, that “Silvana was a good kid, and she didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”  Oh yes?! Very astute. I really wanted to throw the book across the room at this point in a rage, but it also seemed absolutely like what some drunken macho murdering fool would really say.  How “exceptional” was Llonas? Not much.  He is par for the course, just like every other raping, murdering beast in this horrible place.

So right on the heels of this unbelievably sordid story there appears another reader, the first person with whom I believe the author must have felt a strong identification: Florita Almada, a/k/a La Santa. I certainly find that the two are very much alike (“the miraculous laws of symmetry.”) Florita Almada is a polymath, an almost incredible autodidact whose voluminous stores of information pour out in all directions, voluble expressions like songs or poems, altogether unpredictable, full of tantalizing, half-hidden connections, and delivered in a discursive, dreamy style peculiar to herself and to her creator. Florita, however, is stuffed to the gills with what I believe is called “marianismo,” meaning the feminine opposite of “machismo” in gender-theoretical circles: a doctrine of the superiority of women, or an idealization of the feminine principle. Pious, passive, maternal, giving, chaste. Life-oriented, pure, noble, selfless. Someone to show us that reading has its uses, provided you pay attention.

One guy who made no use of his reading, whose reading didn’t enable him to escape this misdeed.  And then this old woman!!

And what use did she make of her learning? She’s talking about Santa Teresa.

I would say that Florita has got her ear closely attuned to the goings-on in the mine we heard tell of, earlier in this book.

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