the hunchback did it


Bolaño wrote a preface to Antwerp in 2002 when he found out it was finally being published. He called the preface, “Total Anarchy: Twenty-Two Years Later.” The “total anarchy” is a reference to a piece of paper tacked over Bolaño’s bed in those days, the late 70s. He’d asked a Polish friend to write ‘total anarchy’ on the scrap of paper in Polish. Maybe there is another connection to our Sophie Podolski here, our suicidal Belgian muse? This preface is like a little drink of water for the dying men who read Antwerp, I suppose. Bolaño seems to tell you a thing or two in the preface, explain the context within which he wrote his opaque novel. I read the preface three times before I realized it was a trick. He says, “I wrote this book for the ghosts, who, because they’re outside of time, are the only ones with time.” That’s a joke, man, it’s just a joke. Dead people are the only ones with time enough to sort this novel out. You’d have to be dead, and in possession of infinite time, to figure out if the hunchback really did it and what movie they are watching on that sheet hung between the trees at the campground. I think the hunchback did do it. I’m just not sure what he did.

more from me at The Owls here.