Interspersed are double-spread layouts with a photo and single-page focus on key locations. In a couple hundred pages, it’s a decent overview with enticing images, but I chose it because Caistor’s name was familiar to me as a translator (of Isabel Allende and Carlos Maria Dominguez).
This seemed an excellent opportunity to delve into Roberto Bolaño’s fiction, with The Spirit of Science Fiction (2016; translation by Natasha Wimmer, 2019), set in Mexico City.
The characters ride their bikes at night through the empty neighbourhood of El Mofels, sit on terraces, marvel at the network of public baths throughout the city (including those at the Gimnasio Moctezuma in Chapultepac Park), smoke cigarettes under clotheslines, tapdance up the escalator in the Metro, steal books (!) and count how many poetry journals exist in the city.
My favourite part, however, are the letters that Jan writes and sometimes sends to science fiction writers. In the one to James Tiptree Jr, he includes a picture postcard with a view of the city from the Torre Latinoamericana, and describes the rain falling while he writes:
“It’s night and it’s raining: the city spins like a shiny top, but some areas are opaque, emptier: they’re like flickering dots; the city spins happy in the middle of the deluge, and the dots throb.”