Hope isn’t a promise

Here’s the section from “The Part About The Critics” that I was thinking of when I said I needed to reread Amalfitano’s sections in the first part to figure out what happens with the Duchamp-inspired geometry-book-on-a-wire thing, Rose, Guerra, etc.  Pages 133-134:

After they left the Circo Internacional, Amalfitano invited them to his house for lunch.

Espinoza went out into the backyard and saw a book hanging from a clothesline. He didn’t want to go over and see what book it was, but when he went back into the house he asked Amalfitano about it.

“It’s Rafael Dieste’s Testamento geometrico,” said Amalfitano.

“Rafael Dieste, the Galician poet,” said Espinoza.

“That’s right,” said Amalfitano, “but this is a book of geometry, not poetry, ideas that came to Dieste while he was a high school teacher.”

Espinoza translated what Amalfitano had said for Pelletier.

“And it’s hanging outside?” said Pelletier with a smile.

“Yes,” said Espinoza as Amalfitano looked in the refrigerator for something to eat, “like a shirt left out to dry.”

“Do you like beans?” asked Amalfitano.

“Anything is fine. We’re used to everything now,” said Espinoza.

Pelletier went over to the window and looked at the book, its pages stirring almost imperceptibly in the slight afternoon breeze. Then he went outside and spent a while examining it.

“Don’t take it down,” he heard Espinoza say behind him.

“This book wasn’t left out to dry, it’s been here a long time,” said Pelletier.

“That’s what I thought,” said Espinoza, “but we’d better leave it alone and go home.”

Amalfitano watched them from the window, biting his lip, although the look on his face (just then at least) wasn’t of desperation or impotence but of deep, boundless sadness.

When the critics showed the first sign of turning around, Amalfitano retreated, returning rapidly to the kitchen, where he pretended to be intent on making lunch.

“Deep, boundless sadness.”  Why? “This book wasn’t left out to dry, it’s been here a long time.”  How long?

The fact that Bolaño returns to the book in “The Part About Amalfitano” gives me hope that we’ll learn the answer to these two questions.  But hope isn’t a promise, and I’m girding my mental loins in case we never get the answers.

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