There's only so much one can do, only so many books one can read simultaneously, a gesture of ffwd and rwnd on the CD player, erasure on the machine, a type of archive and daily column.

The rays of light at dusk on those trees, the noise of traffic pulsing through them into this room. Learning to write without a computer of one's own, in quick moments, for "free."

Since college, I've carried around books like talismans. For every page of Bolaño that I read in wonder, how many infinite others have I missed? A concern with numbers, their multiplying path upward in a dream I had in 1991, staying with family in San Jose de Rio Chico. I woke up sweating and terrified to the neutral sound of the trees (crickets, frogs, birds, monkeys, the wind) in the dense jungle around our house. In the dream, a series of numbers, in two parallel columns, were racing into infinity and I was trying to count them. But they multiplied themselves too quickly to follow.

So, we create talismans. Such as the 2666 I carry around with me recently. Book three deals with an African American journalist who gets sent to Ciudad Juárez to cover a boxing match. He drives down, passing through Arizona and the border into Mexico. As he approaches, several people he chats with at various stops ask him: "Are you going there to write about the murders?" He always says the same thing: "What murders?"

The book converges in Ciudad Juárez, at those inhuman series of murders that have been going on for over a decade now, I think. I just saw two more mentioned on Univision this week. The epigraph from Baudelaire that opens the book remains as accurate as I thought it would be:

"An oasis of horror
amid a desert of boredom."

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