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 USA as his maximum success, surpassing even his earlier paintings in its strangeness, good looks, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters comprises lecturers and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage pupil 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 thousands of younger manufacturing facility staff, within the novel as in lifestyles, have disappeared.
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This time there was no professional excuse and he paid the hotel and transportation costs out of his own pocket. Nor can it be said that he was answering a call of help from Liz Norton. He had talked to her just four days before and told her he was planning to come to London, a city he hadn’t visited in a long time. Norton was delighted and invited him to stay with her, but Morini lied, saying he’d already made a reservation at a hotel. When he landed at Gatwick, Norton was waiting for him. That day they had breakfast together, in a restaurant near Morini’s hotel, and that night they had dinner in Norton’s apartment.
But of course the ladder, which should logically be in a corner, never appeared, and after he had rolled a few feet Morini stopped and turned and looked into the stranger’s face, controlling his fear, a fear all the worse for his dawning certainty that he knew the person following him, who gave off a stench of evil that Morini could hardly bear. In the fog, Liz Norton’s face appeared. A younger Norton—twenty, if that—staring so seriously and intently that Morini had to look away. Who was the person at the bottom of the pool?
The Swabian trudging each afternoon to the house of the lady who had traveled to Buenos Aires, to fill his belly with charcuterie and biscuits and cups of tea. The Swabian massaging the back of the former cavalry captain’s widow, as the rain lashed the windows, a sad Frisian rain that made one want to weep, and although it didn’t make the Swabian weep, it made him pale, and he approached the nearest window, where he stood looking out at what was beyond the curtains of frenzied rain, until the lady called him, peremptorily, and the Swabian turned his back on the window, not knowing why he had gone to it, not knowing what he hoped to see, and just at that moment, when there was no one at the window anymore and only a little lamp of colored glass at the back of the room flickering, it appeared.
2666: A Novel by Roberto Bolaño