But, there's something odd about the way they're explained. I dreaded this part because, while I'll read the most violent and horrific stuff out there, I was expecting 2666 to make American Psycho to read like a kid's book. Shockingly, however, Bolaño describes the rape and murder of the women with the distant voice that makes them the everyday occurrences they are in the fictional town of Santa Teresa. This choice makes "Crimes" very difficult to read. Not, by any means, because it's boring but, instead, because it's infuriating. Page after page of women raped, murdered, mutilated and abandoned in deserts, dumps and street corners are described with less enthusiasm or emotion than most people use to describe doing their laundry. Add to this a cast of (male) cops given the task of investigating the crimes who show no passion for catching the killers and Bolaño depends on his readers to hate him and his characters.
Oddly, while the found bodies of women read like grocery lists, the jailhouse rape of one of the suspects and the descriptions of a man desecrating churches are perfectly graphic, giving just enough gory imagery to the reader to let the mind fill in the rest of the horrible details.
Bonus Blogging Bolaño: The Part About the Editions
So, as I mentioned, I got my copy of 2666 off the world wide interwebs and, therefore, ended up with a British edition. (The image this week is of the English dust jacket, which I must say I prefer to the American one.) Over the weekend on my weekly bookstore rounds I found that Borders (which I was only at to find the April issue of Wire magazinewhich they didn't have goddamnit) finally got around to stocking a copy of 2666. It's surprisingly slim compared to mine. But the odd thing is that if you look it up on Amazon here and in the UK the page count is exactly the same. What's different though, aside from the jacket, is the paper. The Brits over at Picador used a thick, slightly rough, linen-like acid free paper while the Americans from Farrar, Straus and Giroux went with a thin, slick silky paper. Both are gorgeous and this is a book I recommend finding in hardcover. If you happen to find a first edition beware, they're going for anywhere from $60 to $295 over on ABE Books.