2666, Not So Faraway


I’ve been reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño for many months now. I’m a slow reader but this book in particular has really been a challenge. The book is divided into three parts with different narratives that eventually come together. The second part of the book is a fictional retelling of the murders in Juarez, MX.

In case you’ve living under a rock somewhere, for the past 20 years or so young women in the border town of Juarez have been mysteriously murdered and raped by unknown assailants. Most of the murderers have never been caught nor has the cause of the murders been definitively determined, although there is much speculation as to the motives behind the killings.
Bolaño uses an alias for Ciudad Juarez in the book and I imagine many of the details are lifted verbatim from the city’s crime scene files. This second part of the book is description after description of murder scenes told in a clinical fashion. The narrative is so gruesome, so haunting,  it provoked thoughts of fear: what if these kind of murders begin to happen in Los Angeles? The idea troubled me so, I had to take a break from the book.

Awhile ago, I came across this news story and a sharp chill ran through me as I read it. The details are almost identical to passages in 2666. Juarez is not so faraway.

CALIFORNIA BRIEFING; WHITTIER; 3 men arrested in attack on woman
Robert J. Lopez. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.:Aug 5, 2009. p. A.8

Three El Monte men were arrested Tuesday after allegedly slashing a woman’s throat and dumping her on the side of a steep canyon in Whittier, authorities said.

The woman, a 20-year-old Bellflower resident, suffered a 4-inch slash across her throat and had cuts and bruises on her body, said Jason Zuhlke, spokesman for the Whittier Police Department.

The men — Vincent Mendoza, 21; Edward Meraz, 24; and Jose Ayala, 27 — were booked on charges of attempted murder and kidnapping, Zuhlke said.

He said the woman underwent surgery at County-USC Medical Center and was listed in critical condition.

The woman knew the three men and had planned to go to the beach with them Monday, Zuhlke said.

Instead, they got in their car, tied her up with rope, beat her, cut her throat and left her in Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, he said.

“They dumped her and took off,” Zuhlke said.

The woman, still bleeding, eventually climbed up the hill to the 6000 block of Altmark Avenue, he said.

Neighbors were awakened about 3:30 Tuesday morning by the woman’s screams. She gave police the suspects’ names and a description of their vehicle.

Zuhlke said the three men, still in the Whittier area, were pulled over by police a short time later.

Three El Monte men face trial for Whittier attempted murder
3 plead not guilty in slashing of Bellflower woman

I have been unable to find any further information on this case.

4 thoughts on “2666, Not So Faraway

  1. I think it’s more of a global epidemic than exclusive to Mexico, and do be prepared for some of the usual suspects in here to invoke illegal immigration in response to this thread. A sad and senseless element of our species is that when men face crisis, they tend to blame the women in their lives first, or women in general.

    Women are capable of carrying on the human race with only a few men on the planet to serve their needs. I think that biological fact scares a lot of men, and I think that in a subtle, Freudian sense, our entire economic system was built to compete with it. Since nature, particularly where mating and natural selection is concerned, is unfair to the male, the male in response created a way of life that’s unfair to the female, to give the male an edge. Just my hunch. Now that this system is collapsing, insecurity, envy, and hatred rule the day, and as a result we’re getting the morbid and horrific culture we’re seeing in places like Juarez. Notice that most of these incidents are in places with extreme poverty, hence, where the male dominated capitalist system has broken down…

  2. This woman knew these guys.

    What are these guys trying to hide?

    A trippy thing is that she was found in Whittier, but they went all the way to County USC in Boyle Heights to treat her.

  3. A truly great book Chimatli, it is tough reading at times but worth the effort.
    Part 4 “The Part About The Crimes” was a grueling task but I think that Bolano made the reader humanize every victim with the horrific police reports.
    And wasn’t the kid “Lalo Cura” great as our conscience?
    A friend helped me understand the book much more when he suggested that the Character of Benno von Archimboldi was a metaphor for God himself, his son the imprisoned murder suspect Klaus Haas as Jesus Christ.
    I read the book twice to get the full impact and I strongly suggest that anyone who want’s to fully understand what Bolano was putting down, then re-read at least Book 5 “The Part About Archimboli”.

    With whats happening in Mexico now, and especially Juarez, the late Roberto Bolano seems a modern day prophet.

  4. DQ, I bought the 3 book version of 2666, it’s easier to carry around in my purse than the bible version. I read a lot of novels but this book has not been easy to read. It seems to require the kind of concentration and study say a book of theory might. There is so much jam packed in just a few pages, I really want to take my time and savor every phrase. Bolaño was an amazing writer! So next up is part three where I’ll find out more about Klaus Haas. The Savage Detectives was also a favorite.

    Thanks Rob for your thoughts and providing some perspective on these horrible acts. I think you’re right about women taking the brunt of global insecurities. It’s sad to see what’s happening around the world and the violence women are forced to endure. I remember being young and thinking things would only get better and everyday I am disappointed to see things getting worse…

    Alienation, I didn’t catch that – County General is a long ways to go for someone with life threatening injuries. Are there no hospitals in Whittier?

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