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2018 Book Discussions > 2666 - (2) The Part About Amolfitano (spoilers allowed) (Mar 2018)

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Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for the second part of the book. Spoilers are fine but please do not discuss the last three parts here.

We met Amolfitano in the first part and this short part tells us more about his life. The critics of the first part do not reappear and nor does Archimboldi.

Dianne | 210 comments This was a strange part to the book with a strange ending. I find it a bit disconcerting that the two main female characters we have been introduced to so far, Norton and Lola, both seem to have some kind of mental disturbance, although it is markedly more pronounced for Lola! She abandons Amolfitano and her son and he takes it with the same cavalier attitude that the three men do to Norton's affection swapping in the first section. Lola really does seem to be insane, and it was sad that she just came back for a brief visit to see her daughter. Meanwhile, towards the end of the section it is Amolfitano who seems to unravel mentally, and even his young daughter is painfully aware of it. I found the many references to philosophers interesting - I wonder if Bolano had studied all of them and some of the more obscure names I will have to look up!

message 3: by Hugh (last edited Mar 26, 2018 02:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
There are all sorts of references to real people in this book. Like Pynchon, Bolaño seems to be very well read in many fields...

Dianne | 210 comments I think you could spend days just discussing the meaning of the philosopher diagrams in this section!

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2353 comments This part was so different from part 1. I think that it and the next part work well together.

message 6: by Neil (last edited Apr 09, 2018 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 309 comments I've just finished this part. I didn't understand it all, but I loved it!

Is Amolfitano gradually going mad or is he breaking free? Or perhaps he is doing both?

It is so very different to Part 1 that I am really intrigued by what Part 3 will bring. For me, this is shaping up a bit like a David Lynch movie. It starts sort of normal but with undercurrents of darkness. Then it takes a wild turn into weirdness. And I'm pretty sure there's violence coming (I know there's a long section detailing murders).

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2353 comments I love your description "starts sort of normal but with undercurrents of darkness, [t]hen it takes a wild turn into weirdness." That captures the first too parts so well.

Neil | 309 comments Interesting comments, Sunita. My comments about the differences between Part 1 and Part 2 were more about the style than about whether they fit well together, although there is a clear change from the critics to Amalfitano. Part 1 feels a lot more straightforward in style than Part 2 which feels, as I said, very "David Lynch" to me. In fact, Parts 1 & 2 together reminded me of Lynch's Lost Highway which starts of reasonably normal and then veers of into weird-land. This book isn't quite so weird, but has a similar feel to me.

Your comments about Part 2 seem to be based on a knowledge of what is coming up in Parts 3 and 4. I am reading the book with absolutely no knowledge of how it shapes up. In retrospect, having now almost finished Part 4, I can agree with you. But I think that some of the connectivity between parts is only obvious when you have read the later parts.

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 23 comments After finishing Part 2, I get the feeling that a lot of it passed right over my head. I'm starting to think that this may be one of those books that, as I read farther, I will find myself flipping back through earlier sections, trying to make connections.

I still don't have any feelings for Amalfitano one way or the other. There seems to be a lot of dark foreshadowing surrounding Rosa-- every time she leaves the house and her father hears her footsteps heading toward the bus stop, he also hears a car engine start up. That gave me the creeps. There are also mentions in both Parts 1 and 2 about young girls' bodies being found.

The geometry book on the clothesline is very intriguing. "...Duchamp instructed the couple by letter to hang a geometry book by strings on the balcony of their apartment so that the wind could 'go through the book, choose its own problems, turn and tear out the pages...'"...."Duchamp told one interviewer in later years that he had liked disparaging 'the seriousness of a book full of principles...'" I wonder what the significance of geometry is-- why not a book of algebra? calculus? physics? His doodles where the geometric shapes were labeled with the names of philosophers, and him noticing that one was also labeled B, and another, AB... I wonder if it is some sort of puzzle, or just idle doodles that the author mentions to show his mindset. The strangest thing is that he doesn’t understand them himself, and doesn’t remember drawing them (just like he has no memory of where the geometry book came from in the first place). Is his mind unraveling or is something else going on here?

message 10: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited May 12, 2018 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments One of the things I enjoyed about the book was exactly these types of situations. Bolaño was able to suggest that all this with the geometry book meant something--and it probably does--but taken as a whole, the entire book continually suggests a kind of shadowy interrelatedness to all the events, as if even the geometry book somehow links back to Archimboldi, or that it links back to whatever it is Archimboldi links to.

I suspect that students of the book could answer a lot of these questions, and tease out the links that might be actually only personal to Bolaño rather than universals. I certainly don't know any specific answers, but I liked the suggestiveness of the narrative, which really became--for me--less of a spur to find out exactly what Bolaño was trying to get at, and more of a launching point for my own flights of speculation.

message 11: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited May 12, 2018 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments I think a person could riff on the geometry book for a while though, if he or she was inclined. What is geometry but the study of figures, and figures are indicated by their boundaries. Amalfitano certainly seems to be a character who is losing sight of the boundaries that might once have circumscribed his life--he's displaced, he wife has gone insane (though he still loves her), and his daughter has transitioned from being a dependent to being her own woman. At one time, his life may have seemed easily definable--as regular as a geometric proof where there is only one correct answer. But now, that's all gone. So subjecting the geometry book to the arbitrariness of the elements might be an unconscious mirroring of his own life.

But that's just a riff. It could mean totally different things, or nothing, I don't know. But being able to go off on possible meanings was what I enjoyed about it

message 12: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 23 comments Bryan wrote: "I think a person could riff on the geometry book for a while though, if he or she was inclined. What is geometry but the study of figures, and figures are indicated by their boundaries. Amalfitano ..."

Bryan, I like what you said about figures being indicated by their boundaries in reference to Amalfitano's life.

One of the reviews I read before starting the book stated that if you try to figure out the point of this book, you are missing the point. I understand that statement now! :-)

The funny thing about this book is that if somebody were to see me reading it and ask me what it is about, I wouldn't be able to tell them, even though I am almost finished Section Three, but the more I read, the more I am drawn into the flow of the story.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Suki wrote: "The funny thing about this book is that if somebody were to see me reading it and ask me what it is about, I wouldn't be able to tell them..."

That made me chuckle--I think I'd be in the same boat, and I finished a while ago. I thought the book was great, though--a book that actually lived up to the hype, in my mind.

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