From: Robert Bolaño, 2666

Thursday, 24 October 2019 23:29

- One day they had to leave the village. According to her parents they had no choice because the war was coming. Lotte thought that if the war was coming her brother was coming too because he lived inside the war, the way a foetus lives inside a fat woman.

I listened to 2666 on audio book, in the car and in the kitchen. It took a long time, with long gaps in between sessions. It was recorded with a number of actors voicing the different sections. Bolaño’s time is like time itself: there are events, there is always something to see and hear, but there is waiting around, too. Other novels might put you, the reader, on a train, where a fellow-traveller tells you an interesting story, and so might Bolaño, but he would have you wait for the train first, and then sit in the carriage for a time, and have the fellow-traveler irritate you with what seemed like non-sequential chit chat before you realised they were telling you something extraordinary. What an unsettling image this is. There’s no suggestion of birth, this is the idea of a baby settling in the womb forever, inhabiting it. Does Lotte think pregnant women are fat, or is she showing her hostility to war? I’m curious as to how it was in Spanish.