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crows, spiders, wayward kangaroos, when they weren’t transforming their whole selves into lionesses, vampires, dolphins, eagles, mummies or hunchbacks of Notre Dame. As the novel progresses toward the central murder, a parallel story emerges, hinging on the characters’ pasts. Halfway through the book, one character recalls his history of violence. First he remembers a series of rapes and murders that occurred when he first arrived in Z. Then he remembers when, imprisoned in Chile after the coup, he witnessed a policeman beat a man to death. Finally he remembers a moment when he and a friend saw a body with a bullet in its head on the roadside in Mexico and muses: Sometimes in the mornings, when I’m having breakfast on my own, I think I would have loved to be a detective. I’m pretty observant, and I can reason deductively, and I’m a keen reader of crime fiction. If that’s any use … which it isn’t. Bolan revisited this fascination with writers and violence and detectives for the rest of his career. In Distant Star, an avant-garde poet becomes a murderer. In The Savage Detectives, rebellious, young, hipster writers bump up against the criminal subculture. And 2666, his last novel, Bolario tackles hundreds of unsolved rapes and murders along the Mexican border with the United States. joins a distinguished company of novelists, especially Haruki Murakami, whose oeuvre resembles Bolario’s in its muted coolness. In Latin American literature, he owes a nod to Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine master who moved with similar ease between high and low culture, the ivory tower and the seedy underworld of knife fights and barroom brawls. The Skating Rink bears some similarity to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, another compact tale about small-town murder, told from multiple points of view, that addresses the challenges of memory and the resonance of violence. Despite his fascination, Bolario never makes a fetish of violence. He takes it as a given, a starting point for his explorations of the human condition. It’s a safe bet to expect more of the same in his next novel slated for translation: Monsieur Pain. Keith Meatto is a New York-based writer who spent the summer in Austin working on a collection of short stories. PREVIEW Artspace111, 111 Hampton St., Fort Worth, through Oct. 14. Blagg is known for his striking images of both rural and urban landscapes. His vintage signs stand alone as surreal portraits of modern industrial culture. 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 4, 2009