By Roberto Bolaño
THE POSTHUMOUS MASTERWORK FROM “ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST INFLUENTIAL MODERN WRITERS” (JAMES WOOD, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) Composed within the final years of Roberto Bola?o’s existence, 2666 was once greeted throughout Europe and Latin the United States as his maximum fulfillment, surpassing even his past paintings in its strangeness, attractiveness, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters comprises teachers and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage scholar and her widowed, mentally risky father. Their lives intersect within the city sprawl of SantaTeresa—a fictional Ju?rez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, the place enormous quantities of younger manufacturing facility employees, within the novel as in lifestyles, have disappeared.
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And yet Espinoza didn’t look ready to give up. Just then, Morini glanced at his cards and saw he had nothing to play. He discarded and asked for four cards, which he left facedown on the stone table, without looking at them, and with some difficulty he set his wheelchair in motion. Pelletier and Espinoza didn’t even ask where he was going. He rolled the wheelchair to the edge of the pool. Only then did he realize how enormous it was. It must have been at least a thousand feet wide and more than two miles long, calculated Morini.
As they played, Morini watched the other tables, the parasols, the deck chairs lined up along both sides of the pool. In the distance there was a park with deep green hedges, shining as if with fresh rain. Little by little people began to leave, vanishing through the different doors connecting the outdoor space, the bar, and the building’s rooms or little suites, suites that Morini imagined consisted of a double room with kitchenette and bathroom. Soon there was no one left outside, not even the bored waiters he’d seen earlier bustling around.
He was a young man, thirty-three or so, known on the scene but not what you’d call famous. The real reason he came was because it was cheaper to rent a studio here than anywhere else. The neighborhood was less lively in those days. There were still old workmen liv- ing here on their pensions, but no young people or children. Women were notably absent: they had either died or spent all day inside, never going out. There was just one pub, as tumbledown as the rest of the neighborhood. In short, a lonely, decrepit place.