The book ends with this line: “And then the storm of shit begins.” But the storm takes time to brew.
Dying, Jesuit priest Sabastián Urritia Lacroix confesses his life, which he calls “a succession of misunderstandings.” He wistfully recalls long-gone times when “knowing how to read was valued” and taste mattered. Ah, but what of the dictatorship, the disappearances, the torturing?
Yet again, Bolaño is effective as a ghost writer for Chile’s damaged conscience. His Opus Dei priest (who even teaches Marx to Augusto Pinochet) is so busy with culture’s personalities that he can’t fathom moral decay. He is faith as inaction. “I would have been able to speak out, but I didn’t see anything, I didn’t know until it was too late,” says Urritia. Literature and faith carry burdens, or should. But Chile preferred compromises that Bolaño never forgave.