He’s GOT me, dang it. I imagined that it was just a matter of time and the.critics.were.right. Bolaño’s piece-de-resistance has sucked me in, and now I’m going to have to finish it.
At first, I pulled at the reins. He has this annoying habit of assuming that the average reader is not going to be left breathless by 2000-word-long sentences that cover five and six pages. You may read three pages before you suddenly stop, breathing hard, wondering why you haven’t seen a period in several minutes. I also wonder how much of the information is going to be essential to the final outcome of the book, and that perception makes me irritated that he’s wasting my time.
But O my friends. Last night I read a paragraph that changed it all. As I read it, it sealed my fate, making it inevitable that I should toil through the rest of the book, seeking the sweet repetition of that magic. It’s introducing one of the characters, a British woman who comes upon an author central to the story, and it details that moment that I think we’ve all had at some point- that moment of musicality when the world changes forever, irrevocably:
It was raining in the quadrangle, and the quadrangular sky looked like a grimace of a robot or a god made in our own likeness. The oblique drops of rain slid down the blades of grass in the park, but it would have made no difference if they had slid up. Then the oblique (drops) turned round (drops), swallowed up by the earth underpinning the grass, and the grass and the earth seemed to talk, no, not talk, argue, their comprehensible words like crystallized spiderwebs or the briefest crystallized vomitings, a barely audible rustling, as if instead of drinking tea that afternoon, Norton had drunk a steaming cup of peyote.
Yes, my friends, he had me at crystallized vomitings. Of how many authors can you say that? Now I’ll have to finish all 900-plus pages. Arrghh.