Read 2666 by Roberto Bolaño Natasha Wimmer Online

2666

Santa Teresa, on the Mexico–US border, is an urban sprawl that draws in lost souls. Among them are three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; and a police detective in love with an elusive older woman. But there is darker side still to the town. It is an emblem of corruption, violenSanta Teresa, on the Mexico–US border, is an urban sprawl that draws in lost souls. Among them are three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; and a police detective in love with an elusive older woman. But there is darker side still to the town. It is an emblem of corruption, violence and decadence, and one from which, over the course of a decade, hundreds of women have mysteriously, often brutally, disappeared.Told in five parts, 2666 is the epic novel that defines one of Latin America’s greatest writers and his unique vision of the modern world. Conceived on an astonishing scale, and – in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life – with burning, visionary commitment, it has been greeted across Europe and Latin America as his masterpiece, surpassing even his previous work in inventiveness, imagination, beauty and scope....

Title : 2666
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780330447423
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 898 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

2666 Reviews

  • brian
    2018-08-20 21:41

    the english version hasn’t come out yet. it comes out in november. no spoilers. just here to make three points:1) the blood and guts2) the disaster3) the women1) y’know that bookbuzz you get when you’re walking around the world and it’s all colored with the life of the book you’re reading? 894 pages of bolano’s epic and i felt like the guy in those 50s sci-fi movies who gets shrunk down real small and is injected into someone’s body. except it’s a book. and i’m in there flapping around amongst the blood and guts and bones and bile and brains of this thing. i love these big sprawling novels that can't be reduced to a single theme, or even a few themes. 2666 is shot through with so many goddamn ideas, is so all over the place, sloppy and strange, with temporal and geographical shifts, recurring images and motifs, characters and names -- and just the furthest thing from any kind of recognizable or coherent 'epic'. bolano’s not pushing the snowball down the hill, watching it gain in mass and volume… he’s drunkenly tossed a million little snowballs down there and, yeah, some are substantive and gain in size, get bigger as they go… but others flatten out and disappear or pop into snowdust as they run against trees and rocks... 2) godard complained, that in watching visconti’s Senso, he was more interested by what he imagined happened after the fade-out then in the scenes themselves. in response, he shot Pierrot le Fou, a film containing all the stuff surrounding what other narrative artists would consider the ‘story' -- this is kinda like what bolano’s book is: a mad collage of all the befores and afters, a high-velocity mishmash of the irrelevant and irreverent, and, truth be told... something of a disaster. yeah. and it’s also the most compelling thing i’ve read in a long time. from 2666:“He chose The Metamorphosis over The Trial, he chose Bartleby over Moby Dick… What a sad paradox, thought Amalfitano. Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unknown. They choose the perfect exercises of the great masters. Or what amounts to the same thing: they want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.” this is bolano engaged in serious fucking combat. infinitely more interesting than an author confidently sitting down at her desk, prepared to write a prose perfect, stream-lined, classy piece of work. boo! 3) at the core of 2666 is a fictional retelling of the ‘female murders’ of juarez. y'know about this? well, if it happened here or in europe, you’d have heard about it. naw, that’s not true. if it happened here or in europe, it wouldn’t have gotten this far. the fuckers would’ve been caught long ago (and, as against the death penalty as i may be, i wish they were caught here rather than mexico so we could fry 'em straight to hell) – well, as of 2008, the killers are estimated to have (vaginally and anally) raped and murdered (strangled, shot, set on fire, mutilated, stabbed, beaten) about 900 women. and that’s a low estimate.along with descriptions of the serial murders are included descriptions of women murdered not by the killer(s), but by boyfriends and husbands and fathers and sons and johns... why? well, if there is one lone serial killer or a related 'band' of killers it’s of dramatic interest... but that’s about it. what matters, what’s actually happening over there on a sociocultural level is infinitely more horrifying – the women of juarez are being physically treated as they’ve been spiritually and symbolically regarded for a long time. the murders, and the fact that they continue, that this isn’t treated as a national emergency... well, it kind of makes sense. the madonna is home, she’s safe, virginal, taken care of and taking care of... the ones who are murdered, well, they must be the Whore, no? (stop -- don't ask how the Madonna is possibly supposed to survive in a broken post-NAFTA society) . the women of juarez are hated. and feared. the men fear the women. and the murders mean more than murder.well, this ain’t the forum for this kinda thing and i certainly don’t wanna get all serious on y’all. but check this book out if you’re interested... http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18...and read 2666. i don’t know if it’s a ‘great’ book. but I know this: i read it two weeks ago and i can’t stop thinking about it.

  • Jessica
    2018-09-06 20:05

    I hate these star ratings. I'm docking this baby one, because I honestly don't believe there's any way he was finished. This book wasn't done! I didn't read the Introduction and I'm not clear on the back story, but my vague understanding is that Bolaño died after sending this thing to his publisher, who claims it was ready to go, but seriously, man, I just can't believe that. This book is almost great. Parts of it are totally mindblowing, but the fact of the matter is, I'm convinced that it needed one more serious edit. The thing wasn't done, and that's absolutely the most negative thing I can say about it. The most positive thing is probably that as I drew near to finishing this somewhat bloat-- er, sprawling 900-page mass of woodpulp, I began experiencing a strong sense that once I'd finished, I'd like to start over from the beginning and read the whole thing again. So yeah, 2666, unfinished though it may be, is that good. It's that good, and it's that flawed, and so what can you do? The poor guy died! So I can't really get mad at him about it, because some circumstances are beyond any author's control. It's sad, but it's true.So yes, 2666. I haven't reviewed a book in awhile, and I'm trying to remember how this thing works.... Well, the book is kind of three (people on here say five, but to me it seemed like three) novels that are linked and overlapping in places but which are also clearly distinct from one another. The first section is about four academics (a Frenchman, an Italian, a Spaniard and a Brit walk into a conference....) who are united through their passion for Archimboldi, an elusive and mysterious German novelist. The academics' pursuit of this writer leads them to a fictionalized Mexican border city, which is plagued by an epidemic of gruesome, mostly unsolved murders of women. The second major part -- and this was where I struggled, because the combination of highly disturbing and dully redundant can get hard to take -- takes place in this Juárez stand-in, and contains a brutal, relentless catalogue of raped and murdered women's bodies that goes on for literally hundreds of pages. The last section of the book follows the writer Archimboldi throughout his life, including his time in the German army during World War II. Okay, so I'm oversimplifying, but that's the basic structure of 2666.Before I get to what I love most about Bolaño, I'd like to say what I love second-most, and that's that I consider him to be probably the greatest straight-male feminist writer that I can think of. I don't know how based in reason this opinion is, and I can picture losing an argument with someone who wanted to challenge me, but that's just the way I felt while reading this and The Savage Detectives. On a very basic, purely emotional level, I just love the way this guy writes about women, though I don't even know that I can explain why. It's very clearly from a male perspective, and I feel that he writes about his female characters with a certain romanticized removal, which should be a problem, but for some reason I just love it. I love it! I also think this book, especially the part in the middle, which I didn't really like, about the (based-in-fact) serial murders, is a feminist text. It makes for an interesting contrast with Ellroy's My Dark Places, which covers some similar ground -- women being raped and murdered, and a subverted detective story -- but where Ellroy gets lost in the oedipal glamour of all that violence, Bolaño takes a stark look at the economics and wider misogyny of a society and forces us to see the pages of raped and strangled young factory workers for what they are, without any romance or horseshit whatsoever....Which gets me to what I really love best about this writer: put simply and meaninglessly, the way he writes about all the bad and good things of this world. Oh gee.... it might be impossible for me to say just what I mean! But I guess I have to try, right? That's why we're all here, yeah?I, like at least 99% of the human race, find it extremely difficult to live in this world. Even when things are dandy for me, my vague awareness of the incomprehensible magnitude of brutality and suffering on earth remains nearly unbearable most of the time. Of course, I am simultaneously so crushed and awed by the beauty and splendor of everything that I pretty much feel like screaming my head off almost all of the time. So, I know it sounds a little weird spelled out like so, but I assume that a lot of people feel this way, and I gotta imagine this is just one basic aspect of human experience. It's just the classic position between a rock and a hard place, or maybe more like being suspended between two equally powerful magnets, at this magical point of painfully vibrating stasis, where the unstoppable force of, say, I dunno, genocide, meets the immovable object of (sorry, this is dumb) love.... or whatever. You know what I mean? Like, everything is always so terrible that you just want to die. But everything is always so wonderful that you can't bear the thought of dying. And that's how we live, every day, and it's nuts!"Okay," you're muttering now.... "Enough with your mixed metaphors, Jessica. What on earth are you trying to tell us about Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666???" Well, fine. Bolaño is -- again, please excuse me -- a reader's writer. I believe he really gets that good literature is the over-the-counter medication that can temporarily relieve the symptoms of this agonizing and incurable condition in which we all find ourselves. A lot of writers know this, and so they try to write about tragedy and cruelty but also the joy of being alive, but obviously doing this right is really pretty tricky, and IMHO Bolaño pulls it off way better than most other people ever have.One reason why is that I think Bolaño grasps how the pains of the world are not really so qualitatively different from its pleasures. The way that Bolaño writes about sex, I guess I'd say (to oversimplify) is not all that different from the way he writes about death. And that's how my experience of the world feels personally, so I can relate to his fiction, because it feels so familiar and true to me in that way. I had an intense experience while reading this book a couple weeks ago, when I was having a difficult time at work. One of my clients, a very young man, had unexpectedly just hanged himself, and this same day I went court with another very disturbed, unhappy, mentally-ill client I know well, who was then dragged off to jail with self-inflicted cuts all over his arms, while hysterically shouting out his innocence in open court. All this is not my presenting social work war stories for laughs or attention, but just to say that on that day I was reading the Archimboldi section of the book on my long train ride to and from the courthouse, and I had an appreciation as great as any that I've ever had, of the intersection between what I was living and what I was reading. I don't mean the topics were at all similar, but that the experience was the same. All of a sudden, the pain of living in the world, which I was feeling pretty acutely that day, became simultaneously palpable and bearable, and oh, I don't know, I probably started crying a bit on the train. Or maybe I didn't, I don't really remember.... Anyway, this, to me, is what books are ultimately for, and this is the basic purpose of writing and reading, yeah? Just on a simple utilitarian level, the horror and glory of living in this world is too vast to comprehend, much less to endure. But a book -- even an oversized book in need of one more harsh, exacting edit -- is a scaled-down diorama, a travel-sized package, a bite-sized piece we can pick up and chew. And in that moment, the untenable position of being torn apart by the excruciating contradiction of our lives is not unmanageable. Or at least, it's soothed a little. In any case, that was my experience with this book, and being as this is the main reason why I read, I guess I must've loved it, at least in parts.Yeah, so anyway, I don't know, should I give it another star? This book had some problems. I thought the North American character was lame, and the whole Mexico section in the middle needed a ruthless edit. Also, I don't believe that this book had a real ending, and I require a fabulous ending on such a long book. At the same time, 2666 was great. It was a far more ambitious project than The Savage Detectives, but it was less perfectly realized. I recommend this to anyone who can stomach hundreds of pages about women being brutally raped, tortured, and killed, who enjoys vast, loosely-structured epic kind of things.

  • Christy
    2018-09-20 21:39

    Roberto Bolaño's 2666 has been described as "the most electrifying literary event of the year" (Lev Grossman, Time), as "a landmark in what's possible for the novel as a form" (Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review), as "a work of devastating power and complexity" (Adam Mansbach, The Boston Globe), as "the work of a literary genius" (Francine Prose, Harper's Magazine), and, repeatedly, as a masterpiece. Adam Kirsch of Slate.com writes that "2666 is an epic of whispers and details, full of buried structures and intuitions that seem too evanescent, or too terrible, to put into words. It demands from the reader a kind of abject submission—to its willful strangeness, its insistent grimness, even its occasional tedium—that only the greatest books dare to ask for or deserve."Boyd Tonkin claims that "2666 offers everything that fiction can – and then gives even more."And, combining Bolaño's biography and art, one critic writes, "His death, in the last moments of its creation, applies the final indeterminate Bolañesco touch: mystery, openness, imperfection—a simultaneous promise of everything and of nothing."But none of that is what I found in this book. Instead of being the epitome of the art of the novel or its salvation, 2666 is, for me, an ambitious attempt at greatness that fails. It represents also the failure of literary critics to recognize the difference between great literature, mediocre literature in the shape of great literature, and pretentions to greatness that are bolstered by a romantic life and an early death. Typically, a good novel will have an interesting plot, significant character development, or thematic or political significance. 2666, though, lacks all of these things. It has a merely perfunctory plot, a total lack of character development as characters remain flat and distant and come and go with no fanfare, and any central theme or political significance is deeply buried within the overwhelming level of detail. Even more, a good novel is one that does something: creates an emotional response in the reader, teaches something, illuminates an issue or makes a political statement. This novel does none of those things. My primary problem, though, is that this a novel with no joy in it. The characters are all deadened and distant, lacking connection with others and satisfaction with their lives; the plot, such as it is, focuses on rape and murder, lost people, and war; and the style consistently holds the reader at arm's length from all of this. This joylessness seems to be intentional, but that doesn't make it any more pleasurable, interesting, or rewarding to read. Giles Harvey writes of 2666, "Samuel Beckett, the original laureate of failure, needed only a few pages of dialogue or prose to suggest an infinity of excruciating boredom; Bolaño chooses to actually subject us to that boredom, for 900 pages."There are books that function precisely because of this lack of joy, to make a point or to highlight, by contrast, something fundamental about humanity. Richard Wright's Native Son is such a novel. It takes us into the psyche of Bigger Thomas, a rage-filled and frustrated young black man in 1930s Chicago, as he rapes and murders two young women. This is a novel without much hope and without much light, mired as it is in Bigger's world, but this darkness is purposeful, designed to bring a problem to light and effect political change. Similarly, Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a beating of a book in the way it emphasizes desolation and loss. But, again, even if there is no hope for the characters in the plot, there is a sort of redemption in the relationship developed between father and son.The darkness in Bolaño's 2666 is different, though. Part 1, "The Part About the Critics," tells the story of four European literary critics in search of an author, Benno von Archimboldi, and their (mostly) unfulfilling love affairs with one another; Part 2, "The Part About Amalfitano," is about one man in Santa Teresa (a town in Mexico that has been plagued by a series of rapes and murders of young woman and which was modeled on Juárez, in which a real-life series of rapes and murders took place during the 1990s) who gradually loses his grip on reality; Part 3, "The Part About Fate," follows an African American reporter called Oscar Fate who comes to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match and winds up being drawn into the mystery surrounding the disappearances there; Part 4, "The Part About the Crimes," does little more than clinically detail hundreds of crimes against women, many of them involving similar young women who have been "anally and vaginally raped" and then murdered, and follow the half-hearted attempts of the local police to solve said crimes; and Part 5, "The Part About Archimboldi," finally tells readers who the author from Part 1 really is, where he came from, what shaped him (mostly World War II, it seems), and what has become of him. The parts are only loosely related to one another and none of them contain any closure. Giles Harvey, again, writes, "The book is a monstrosity, an immense negation of everything we expect literature to provide: form, insight, redemption, happiness. It seems to want to inflict itself upon us. I have suggested that the book is a failure. Yet to call 2666 a failure feels somehow tautological: Bolaño's imagination was underwritten by the idea that every human impulse is ultimately thwarted, cancelled, destroyed."This drive toward failure is therefore distinct from the darkness found in Native Son and The Road. Its only purpose, after all, it seems, is to destroy all hope and to impart Bolaño's bleak worldview, a worldview which itself does nothing. The most striking instance of this is in Part 4, about the crimes. Some reviewers have argued that the book makes a political statement about the treatment of and attitude toward women that allows this kind of rape and murder to continue unabated, some have called his writing about the epidemic of rape and murder compassionate, some have even claimed his coverage of the killings can be called feminist. Michael Berger writes, "The sheer audacity of the novel is that it reads at times as the ultimate indictment of Bolaño’s gender, his own dreams and desires, and especially the culture of machismo, gangsterism, and tyranny that passes for masculinity in many parts of the world." A review from the New York Magazine Book Review claims that Bolaño humanizes not only the women and their families but the corrupt police and even the murder suspects. It’s a perfect fusion of subject and method: The real-world horror anchors Bolaño’s dreamy aesthetic, producing an impossibly powerful hybrid of political anger and sophisticated art.Berger also describes the style of Part 4 by saying that the murders are described "in a neutral, matter-of-fact style that serves to humanize the victims."The overwhelming and clinical detail surrounding the murders do little for me in the way of humanizing the victims, however. They all start to sound the same. The names may be different, but the details are all too similar. This seems the opposite of humanizing, actually. And this is an important point to dwell upon because all of the things these positive reviews claim-- that it is political literature, Bolaño's compassion, that it is feminist--depend for their effectiveness not on deadening the reader or highlighting the horrors of humanity but on drawing the reader in, creating an emotional connection, and even pushing the reader to change the way she or he thinks and even acts. Bolaño's work, thorough as it is, does not do this. When everyone in the novel is distant and half-dead, even the good guys (such as they are), what does it matter if women are being raped and killed? When even the reader is deadened by the effort of reading the novel, what does it matter? Furthermore, "The Part About the Crimes," in which Bolaño details several years' worth of rapes and murders in Santa Teresa, in which hundreds of women are brutalized, violated, mutilated, and killed and are only distinguished from one another in many cases by quickly-passed-over names and clinical descriptions of how they were found and what they were wearing when they were found, serves only to deaden. The women who are killed are no more than objects, evidence of a crime wave. Reading this section, one cannot help but wonder at the sheer volume of the crimes described. Bolaño is clearly trying to make a point by depicting each and every one of the crimes, trying to represent the breadth of this problem, but it loses all meaning eventually. Why depict hundreds of dead and violated women's bodies when the point could be made with a far smaller number? Why not allow the reader to extrapolate from an already horrifying number? One cannot help but wonder, as I've said, but not only at the number of women killed (which is what Bolaño attempts to highlight here); one cannot help but wonder if at some level there is a perverse pleasure on the part of the author or intended for the reader in seeing this violence against women enacted over and over and over again. At some point it crosses a line between instructive and twisted.At least one critic takes note of this. John Lingan writes, "When we read this parade of atrocity, particularly in light of the other moments in 2666 when women are raped or otherwise forcibly used for sex, it’s hard not to imagine that Bolaño took some small level of skewed enjoyment from the project."Bolaño's living women are equally problematic. As Victor Manley writes, "All of the women are either nymphomaniac, indecisive, fickle, insane, unnatural or a colourful selection of the above." For a so-called feminist novel, then, 2666 is sorely lacking in convincing female characters and in an understanding of women's actual lives. Bolaño does evince some concern with the situation that leads to women being raped and murdered, but I am not sure that that's enough. As Jonathan Birch writes, "Emotionally, for all its absurd scope (why read ten different novels when you can read one by Roberto Bolaño?), 2666 is as cold and dead as its female characters."This was a hard book to read and has been a hard book to write about. In this, it succeeds, I suppose, in being bleak and depressing and in putting forth a particular view of life and humanity. But a masterpiece? I think not. Critics like to defend the book by saying that great art challenges the reader, that great art may not be immediately recognized as beautiful; but these same critics profusely praise the book (seeming to undermine their own defenses of it) and refuse to note that there is a distinction between challenging the reader and telling him or her to fuck off, which is more like what 2666 does. As one reviewer writes in one of the few not-so-glowing reviews, "I didn't exactly hate 2666, but I often got the feeling that 2666 wasn't so fond of me."Put more literarily, "In Bolaño’s hellish postmodern creation, the silent contract between reader and author is broken: there’s nothing to care about, nothing at stake, and no reason to keep reading."Indeed.

  • Flora
    2018-08-28 22:38

    I accept that I'll probably get flamed for this, but enough is enough: this maddening, rapacious, and occasionally compelling book is making my life miserable. Will I finish it? Will it matter? Let me say for the record that I counted myself as a likely enthusiast -- I fit the profile -- but after a long, protracted battle, can't bring myself to sing along with the choir to which Bolano is preaching. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if we're so enslaved as readers to the cult of the author that we no longer require his masterpiece to deliver on its claim to greatness, as an integral work of art that transfigures and transcends its moment without depending on the ego of its author to contain it. This happened with Sebald, too: the writer's death, in consummating that ego, paradoxically secures the instant immortality of the work, and we promote him to canonical status before the work itself can pass the endurance test -- not necessarily of time, but of fiction as an invented life form that can survive not only in the fair weather of an assured friendly reception, but the inclemency of readers' genuine surprise. And their work makes itself available to this kind of literary leapfroggery because of its overtly moribund self-reference: there is no "2666" as a singular novel without the idea of "Bolano" as an already-consecrated literary martyr, just as there may be no individual "Vertigo," "Austerlitz," "The Emigrants," et al., as novels, without the classical fantasy of "Sebald," as an idol of immediate eternity, to connect them all.For me, the most significant failing of "2666" is that it is not convincing *as* a novel, as a unified world inhabited by a variety of imaginary real people whose lives are in our hands. For all their hyper-personalizing detail, the "characters" of this book do not exist for readers as such, because they serve the book more than vice versa; they appear, get used, and -- not unlike the Santa Teresa victims -- are discarded; their bodies pile up along the unrelenting highway of a narrative profoundly driven, it appears, by a refusal to finish. (Not to be a dime-store psychiatrist, but this reminds me of an intensely voluble teacher I once had who said, "Nobody ever died talking.") When characters reappear, their remergence carries no real novelistic weight, because they never haunted the spaces from which they were absent; without the direct consciousness of the author, they have no being. (When he isn't thinking about them, neither is the book.) I don't refer to them by name for a reason: I don't need to. Rather than sincerely individuated figures, they seem more like components of a consuming, universal ego that substitutes humane curiosity for self-interest -- the literary narcissism of a book that absorbs itself. (By this criteria, I can think of lots of postmodern/post-postmodern novels with dead authors who are still breathing.) It might even be said that the organizing principle of this literally infinite book is the death of the author, and while that might sound coherent enough, even noble, I'm not sure that automatic posterity is the most honorable or compelling motive for a novel, which at its best, endeavors first and foremost to make something live, whether it literally exists or not, or ever did.What I think *is* noble, though, is the ecstatic response to Bolano's work. Personally, I find the reviews -- encomia to "2666" as the apotheosis of Bolano's genius -- a hell of a lot more interesting than the book itself, and I think I know why that might be. The enthusiasm that readers have for this novel honors something tremendously important: a persisting faith in the transformative potential of the novel as a tradition. Readers who love this book believe in the novel and what it can and should do, and my question is simply whether this particular book really does it, or if we're so desirous for a novel that remakes the form -- a show of proof that literary fiction isn't a terminal enterprise, but eternally regenerative and revelatory -- that we're willing to invest our faith in something that aspires to that aim, but doesn't necessarily achieve it. Bolano clearly shared this desire, too, but to my mind failed his readers by enlisting their belief primarily in the confabulation of this wish-fulfillment -- this imaginary great new book -- rather than in the invented world inside it. Instead of champions of "2666" as an autonomous contribution to literature, or the creation of a strange new world, we've become servants to Bolano's own auto-mythology. And that might be noble, but it's also disappointing.

  • Ian
    2018-08-30 19:44

    Animate! Immerse! Revive!This big, fat book sat lifeless, intimidating, unread on my shelf for several years. I loved the cover, but I didn't particularly like the shape of the book itself. It was a brick. Somehow its dimensions seemed to be disproportionate. For a long time, I made excuses, then, finally, prompted by two GR friends, I made a spontaneous decision. I opened it and started to read...I immersed myself in a world of revelation for ten days. I still feel the preternatural reverberations.What does an author do when they write a novel? Do they condense life? Do they distil it? Do they dehydrate life? Do they remove the water? Do they create a desert? So life can be preserved until the rain comes?What do readers do when we read a novel? Do we just add water? Do we re-hydrate life? Are we the rain the novel was waiting for? Does our effort bring the novel alive? Do we make it vital? Does reading turn a desert into an oasis? Do we animate what the author has created? And vice versa? Does their creation facilitate our recreation?Writers, write more so that we may be animated! Readers, read more so that you may animate (and be more animated)! Writers, readers...immerse yourselves in each other! Revive! Vitalise! Enjoy! Expose yourselves to life! Turn your back on death! Its time will come...but not yet!Talking Heads - "And She Was"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV9DN..."Now she's starting to riseTake a minute to concentrateAnd she opens up her eyesThe world was moving and She was right there with it (and she was)."Hermosillo, SonoraDoesn't the moon look big tonight!A Critical Quest for the AuthorIn Part 1 of this metafiction, four European critics go looking for the (German) author, the writer, Hans Reiter (aka Benno von Archimboldi, named after the Mexican statesman Benito Juárez and the Milanese painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo). He is there, somewhere in front of them, in Mexico, but they can't see the wood for the trees.In Part 5, Bolano offers us the author, up to the point he leaves for Mexico. We readers know what the critics don't and can't know.What we learn is the identity of the author, the person, his character, his childhood, his adulthood, his family, his influences, his bibliography, his history, his past.Into the Abyss of Time and SpaceOur journey of discovery takes us not just across time, but across the globe, from pre-war Germany to wartime Soviet Union to contemporary Mexico.Chronologically, we start in the forest, we cross the sea, and we end up in the desert. Each of these places has a metaphorical significance for Bolano.During the war (Part 5), 500 Jews are exterminated (in the forest) by compliant local administrators in a matter of weeks, while in Santa Teresa, northern Mexico (Part 4), we see 105 women and girls raped and murdered over five years.It's an average of 21 per annum, but they're not just statistics - they all have names, ages, identities, families and causes of death.Part 4 wasn't as explicit or harrowing as I had anticipated. You just need to formulate a reading strategy to accommodate the sheer bulk of Femicide. It's unrelenting, but nowhere near as unrelenting as the experience of the real thing. Apart from the number of crimes, there is less detail than a standard crime novel.It's tempting to depersonalise it, to disbelieve, to treat it as mere fiction. But that would defeat the purpose. It is based on the real (just as is the description of the Holocaust). This is the desert of the real. We can't turn our backs. We have to acknowledge it. World CentralPart 5 blew my mind. Anybody who doesn't reach it because they give up in Part 4 is missing out on some of the best writing this century! There is wartime realism a la the relatively two-dimensional "Europe Central". However, this Part takes us into the fifth dimension. There is tragedy, comedy, fantasy, science fiction, satire. Think de Sade, Thomas Mann, Herman Hesse, Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, David Lynch, James Ellroy, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Bulgakov, Bruno Schulz, even Saul Bellow at times.To paraphrase Bolano himself, this is one of the great, imperfect, torrential works that blaze paths into the unknown, a novel in which one of the great masters (and Bolano is entitled to that label) "struggles against that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench."Juan Davila - "Stupid as a Painter" (1982)Matthew 26:66"What think ye? They answered and said, he is guilty of death."The Parallels of Genocide and FemicideIn the words of Hannah Arendt, Bolano shows us just how banal evil can be, at least with respect to the Holocaust. 500 Jews arrive by train, apparently by mistake, in a small regional town. They present a problem for the local administration, an inconvenience. Slowly, the administration arrives at a final solution in which almost the whole town participates. Bolano allows us to see how easily ordinary people became complicit in a greater evil, even if at a base level it was their evil:"This country has tried to topple any number of countries into the abyss in the name of purity and will. As far as I'm concerned, you understand, purity and will are utter tripe..."...now we sob and moan and say we didn't know! we had no idea! it was the Nazis! we never would have done such a thing! We know how to whimper. We know how to drum up sympathy. We don't care whether we're mocked so long as they pity us and forgive us. There'll be plenty of time for us to embark on a long holiday of forgetting..."Unfortunately, we never get close enough to the perpetrator(s) of the Femicide to understand who is responsible, let alone its motivation or cause. In the case of the Holocaust, we ask why ordinary people didn't refuse to participate in Genocide, whereas in the case of the Femicide we ask why the law enforcement agencies have been so incapable of finding the perpetrators and guaranteeing the safety of women and girls in the future.Barbarism Plagues a World Rich and MagnificentAre we, then, fighting a "doomed battle against barbarism?"Sometimes, you have to wonder whether the banality might be a natural or valid response to the chaos all around us:"In one of his last notes he mentions the chaos of the universe and says that only in chaos are we conceivable."Elsewhere, Bolano is more optimistic, recognising that "life is a mystery", but describing chaos as a "reflection of the world, rich and magnificent despite war and injustice."Family CommunionPerhaps something positive emerges from the manner in which we confront chaos and evil:"In that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion. The communion of coincidence and effect, and the communion of effect with us."For all the chaos, it's still possible for a sense of unity to prevail, especially at the level of family. It's important that unity doesn't necessarily imply singularity. Unity can result from juxtaposition. It can derive from a composite of discrete things (like the paintings of Arcimboldo). Not only is family part of the express subject matter of the novel, but it was a constant preoccupation for Bolano during the five years it took him to write the novel. He suffered from a lethal liver disease and was waiting for a transplant at the time he died of complications. His novel formed part of the financial legacy he wished to leave his family. He did everything for his family:"My only country is my two children and wife and perhaps, though in second place, some moments, streets, faces or books that are in me..."When These Stars Cast Their LightThese other moments are "a proliferation of instants, brief interludes" that reveal the relationship between past and present. They can be captured in art and literature, and perpetuated in time, into the future:"...we never stop clinging to life, because we are life. One might also say: we're theatre, we're music."Culture that survives from the past continues to enlighten the present like the light of stars. We can only hope that it will enlighten the future as well:"When these stars cast their light, we didn't exist, life on Earth didn't exist, even Earth didn't exist. This light was cast a long time ago. It's the past, we're surrounded by the past, everything that no longer exists or exists only in memory or guesswork is there now, shining on the mountains and the snow and we can't do anything to stop it. "An old book is the past, too, a book written and published in 1789 is the past, its author no longer exists, neither does its printer or the ones who read it first or the time when it was written, but the book, the first edition of that book, is still here."I hope this book lives on in the memory and for the benefit of Bolano's wife Carolina and their two children, Alexandra and Lautaro. I hope you can overcome any apprehension about its length and subject matter and experience the enlightenment within. Bolano's world is both past and present, but most importantly, it is rich and magnificent and true.For the End of 2666"...and that's it, friends. I've done it all. I've lived it all. If I had the strength, I would cry. I bid you all goodbye...""Surround Sister, Take Care of Me"I started to read this novel over a long weekend. On the Sunday, our 16 year old daughter (left with older sister in the photo below from a retro party the previous night) went shopping in the city, while we saw a film. She is worldly, but still a beautiful, innocent and generous soul. When we picked her up, she was quite distressed. A 30 year old male had accosted her in public and refused to let go of her hand after shaking it. She said she had to meet her parents. He said, phone them and tell them you've been kidnapped. Women and girls are still not safe. Anywhere. Unfortunately, the experience of life exposes us to both light and dark. Which is why this novel is so powerful. It tells the truth. The truth can happen to us all.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9DgyeIm..."An Oasis of Horror in a Desert of Boredom" (Epigraph)From Charles Baudelaire - "The Voyage"Also translated:"An oasis of horror in a desert of ennui."http://fleursdumal.org/poem/231"Welcome to the Desert of the Real""If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts — the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging) — as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra..."It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself.Jean Baudrillard - "Simulacra and Simulations", published by University of Michigan Press, 1994 [Translated by Sheila Faria Glaser]"What Treasure Hidden in a Desert Cave""That sense of time, ah, the diseased man's sense of time, what treasure hidden in a desert cave..."They seemed suddenly to freeze, lose all sense of time, and turn completely inward, as if they were bypassing the abyss of daily life, the abyss of people, the abyss of conversation, and decided to approach a kind of lakeside region, a late-romantic region, where the borders were clocked from dusk to dusk, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, and eternity, like the minutes of those condemned to die, like the minutes of women who’ve just given birth and are condemned to die, who understand that more time isn’t more eternity and nevertheless wish with all their souls for more time, and their wails are birds that come flying every so often across the double lakeside landscape, so calmly, like luxurious excrescences or heartbeats. Then, naturally, the three men would emerge stiff from the silence and go back to talking about inventions, women, Finnish philology, the building of highways across the Reich."Roberto Bolano, "2666"A Sea of Seeming and Rabid Immaturity"Metaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming...""[Arcimboldo] the Milanese painter's technique struck him as happiness personified. The end of semblance.""Only Ansky's wandering isn't semblance, he thought, only Ansky at fourteen isn't semblance. Ansky lived his whole life in rabid immaturity because the revolution, the one true revolution, is also immature."Roberto Bolano, "2666"Mezcal HaikuThis here's the rub:Bolano is the mezcal,Vollmann's just the grub."Unhappy Readymade""It's a Duchamp idea, leaving a geometry book hanging exposed to the elements to see if it learns something about real life...he had liked disparaging 'the seriousness of a book full of principles...in its exposure to the weather, the treatise seriously got the facts of life'...I hung it there to see how it survives the assault of nature, to see how it survives this desert climate...Just pretend the book doesn't exist..."Marcel Duchamp - "Unhappy Readymade" (1919)The readymade must be exposed to life before it can be happy...or wise.

  • Fabian
    2018-08-31 19:47

    Somewhere inside this extraordinary oasis, some critics of literature proclaim that a specific book under discussion is “hard to follow,” “chaotic,” “half finished,” & “suspect.” This type of cheeky self-evaluation, so incredibly hidden and almost non-existent is what makes Bolaño a worthy candidate for any of the major global literature prizes. A fellow classmate said that this was as daunting, as time consuming, as reading El Quixote, but I would like to add that the epic convention from Cervantes which was for all future writers to follow is also an innovation mirrored with 2666—here is what new literature really means. And what this all means is a restlessness to render only certain themes, certain tableaux and neofables, no longer in neat, ordered, & restricted packages. Write what you want to write about (of course always looking at the heavens with glossy eyes at the past Gods of Literature)— & screw any expectations and conventions. Bolaño is more like Virginia Woolf than Garcia Marquez (in case anyone is wondering)—and therefore utterly brilliant. A friend said that it is the epilogue of 2666 which explains its greatness, and this is far from the truth. I cannot really find the tragedy of Bolaño’s premature death all too prevalent in the book—2666 is about pretty much everything that does not deal with death, too. Also, Bolaño is the only writer to have ever, in my estimation, emulated the great Marquis de Sade in his infamous book within 2666 about the murders in Mexico and its crazed logic which no one can solve. It is absolutely organic and I love the fact that the titular number is mentioned 0 times in the novel (although it is explained, somewhat, sorta, in “Amulet”). “Cloud Atlas” is neatly connected; 2666 only gets to connections by coincidence, just as in life— it is THAT organic. &, like in true, harrowing life, there are dreams & oracles, strangeness and beauty and ugliness, almost always the trio of these found in one. Bolaño’s magnum opus is wondrous, really beautiful, a strange and rare fruit (for gems last forever, and this is almost a prolonged, though intangible, feeling).

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2018-09-11 01:47

    Before reaching the last 100 pages of the book, I was bored. I was beginning to be afraid that the 33 early mornings when I had to wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 am just to read my target 20-30 pages of this book everyday would all be wasted. There were many questions and loose ends in my mind and I was already wondering if, in the end part, Bolano would care to tie them all up. You see, this book was published posthumously and one of the reviews here in Goodreads seemed to indicate that this was an unfinished novel, being the last one of Bolano. I was ready to give either 3 or 4 stars depending on how he would end the book.I was wrong. Starting on page 877 (or 17 pages before the last), he started answering my questions. Then his ending was a strong emotional wallop for me. Even the last 4 pages of the book entitled Notes to the First Edition explained the meaning of the title and also how is this book related to other Bolano's works. So, this morning, I bought my third Bolano Amulet and decided to read The Savage Detectives starting tomorrow morning. My mornings will still be spent reading Bolano's books until I either finish all his novels or I get tired of him (I hope not but this happens).This novel deserves all the 5 stars for me. Even if it is too thick (989 pages with small font), it is well-written and very readable. Bolano's attention to details is amazing. Sure, there are scenes that could be edited out as they do not contribute to the overall plot but I think it is part of the charm of his storytelling. It is like talking to a friend and she just keeps on talking and sometimes what she is saying does not interest you anymore but since she talks eloquently or she is pretty, you may get distracted once in a while but you keep paying attention because she sounds nice to your ears or look like an juicy red apple that is nice to bite.The book is divided into 5 parts:I. The Part About the Critics - about the four critics who have read some of the books of a mysterious writer called Archimboldi. Their search for him led them to a town called Santa Teresa in Mexico.II. The Part About Amalfitano - about a professor who has also read some books of the writer, Archimboldi. He and his insane wife and daughter Rosa live in Santa Teresa and Oscar Amalfitano entertains the inquiring 4 critics.III. The Part About Fate - about a reporter whose name is Fate. He is sent by his boss to cover a boxing match in Santa Teresa. While there, he discovers the disappearance of many young women. This part serves as a prelude to Part IV especially due to the character Chucho Flores.IV. The Part About Crime - 121 dead young women. Age ranges from 11 to maybe early 40's. Mostly from Santa Teresa. Most of them were penetrated in both vagina and anus before the murderers finished them off by strangulation. Most of them also had broken hyoid bone, sliced off breast and/or bitten off nipple. Most of them were workers in maquiladoras (manufacturing operations in a free trade zones near US-Mexican borders).V. The Part About Archimboldi - about the author of those books read by those people in parts I & II. I will not tell you anything more because that would be too much of a spoiler. Suffice it to say that this part is my favorite among the 5.So, I don't agree with one of my friends saying that you can skip Parts II, III and IV and you will still understand this book. All the parts are important for you to know the complete story.What are the other things my friends are saying about this book? Hmmm, lemme see...Friend # 1:"He did not tie up the many loose ends."Huh? Which ones?Friend # 2:"By the time I finished, I was left with more questions than answers...What is 2666 really all about?"In the Notes to the First Edition, it says "...2666 itself, the date upon which the hole novel rests." So, it is like the vanishing point not only when everyone in the novel would be dead but when the world would end (prophetic Bolano?).Friend # 3:"But, as you read, it becomes evident that the stories and motifs are going nowhere"Yes, this could be true only if you did not read carefully or until the last page.Friend # 4:"If you are looking for punishment and a reason to quit, head to Part IV."True, but I think the idea here is to desensitize the reader about those repeated mention of rape and murder. At first, I was bothered too but there was a point when I asked, what if one of them was my dear 17-y/o daughter? I would I feel? Also, it heightens the emotional denial of the (view spoiler)[mother (hide spoiler)] in the last part.Friend #5:"There are to (sic) many non connecting story lines."True, but I thought it is Bolano's style. His one of the show-offs. Think of Pynchon, Wallace, Barth or even Dickens. They write and write as if to prove that they are good writers and can make you engaged even up to almost or more than a thousand pages.Friend # 6:"I have put this book down. Maybe I will pick it up again if I need to impress someone."Uh-oh, I decided to read this book because it is a 1001 and I am into that quest. My wife was not impressed because she had to injure the light in the bedroom that I had to open very early in the morning. But, yeah, some girls look up to guys who are readers.There are other similar comments but they are not from my friends. I did not mean to highlight those comments in order to get votes. I just wanted to share my thoughts on those as a friend.I seldom give 5 stars. This is my 193rd book read this year and only the 13th time that I gave that AMAZING rating.I think Bolano deserves all those praises from 28 friends who gave this book either a 4- or 5-star rating. My first Bolano and definitely not the last. In fact, I am now raring to read his second most popular book, The Savage Detectives.

  • Jaidee
    2018-08-23 00:46

    5 brilliant genius stars.Nothing I write will do this book any justice. I wish I had the time to write a deep thought provoking essay on this modern masterpiece but instead I will write a few words about how I felt about this book and how greatly it impacted me.This book hurt my brain and touched my heart. It was magical, frightening, beautiful, harrowing, shocking, mesmerizing and exceptional. At times this book entered my dreams at night and I pondered about it during the day. It was as if the language and story swirled through my blood and went into my bone marrow. I reflected on the world of the book and more broadly at the world at large. I sometimes would avoid reading it out of fear and other times for confirmation of the organized chaos that is life.Stories swirled within stories. Connections between people, places and time were multi-dimensional and random but then not random. Language was seductive, frightening, enigmatic and cruel. I felt my life view validated and then at the same time refuted often within the span of a few paragraphs.This book tore me apart but then thankfully reconfigured me; sometimes for the better and sometimes not. The book was gritty and mundane and then would swiftly become profound and wise so that I did not know where I stood within myself, my beliefs, art and the world. This book challenged me and then devoured me and at the same time helped me understand both my mortality and my divinity.This book helped me tap into some of my inner wisdom but took away some of the light. What is this book about? Underneath a veneer of nobility lies a whole lot of animal and a whole lot of evil and despite this a whole lot of beauty.Unbelievable read but I don't know if I could do it again. Rest in peace Mr. Bolano.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-09-13 21:52

    If that tosser Ian Graye can trash Infinite Jest in so unseemly a fashion then all I can say is....CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH BETWEEN INFINITE JEST BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE AND 2666 BY ROBERTO BOLANOIJ : choose your weapons, fatso.2666: Fuck man, what is this, the 14th century?IJ : I didn’t organise this, I don’t make the rules2666: what’s going on here anyway? We were both written by dead guys and now they have cruelly pitted us against each other for the tacky reality-tv-WWF-style pleasure of this muesli-slurping self-congratulatory wiseacre goodreads crowd. Look at them all, ugh, doesn't the bile rise at the site of 'em.Crowd person: muesli! Slurp! Oh your reviews are divine2nd crowd person : oh so are yours, mwwaaa mwaaIJ: we are in the super heavyweight class, I note. The Sumo wrestlers of literary pomism.2666: fuck I am hammered. Do you know how much how much how much er how much I have had to drink?IJ: it sounds like gallons. You are in no fit state. Referee? This book can’t fight.Referee?2666: there is no referee. The very idea is antique. This is the post post post er post so post that modernity is just a dot on the far horizon you know man you know what I mean god the things I’ve seenIJ : I know all about it, I read you years ago but I found part four a real struggle2666 : well you talk about struggle you have more notes than Tchaikovsky on a florid dayIJ : I went to florid day once, it was so fucking hot. Miami.2666: my what?IJ: Ami.2666: did you go to see the dolphinsIJ : yeah I saw the dolphins, isn’t that what everyone does2666: I just saw heaps of bodies of people that had been cruelly cruelly post murderedIJ: post murdered? Is that a thing?2666 : what?IJ : what?2666: you’re my best mateIJ : we rule you know. Who can compare to us mighty and difficult novels? We are the best. (addressing the crowd) You fuckers had better realise that2666: yes or you might end up in Part FourIJ : ha ha, good one2666: let’s get out of this fucking placeIJ : I’ll buy you a drink if you can stand it2666 : fuckThe two giant novels lumber over the ropes of the ring and out into the world of bars, reviewers and the blinding sunshine of cruelty. The crowd tries to mask its disappointment with more muesli.

  • Michael
    2018-08-25 22:36

    This read tried my patience at first but eventually hooked me. It’s got the power to change the way you look at life and possibly make you a better human. For anyone considering reading the book, the challenge of its length and content calls for a significant basis to make the decision. Hence the unfortunate length of this review. There are so many plot elements, diversions, and ideas in this book that it felt like drinking from a firehose. And, boy, did it quench my thirst. Bolaño doesn’t preach, but there is a pervasive moral inquiry throughout related to what it is people can and should do about evil in this world. The main evil is epitomized by a large number of murders and rapes of women in the fictional town of Santa Teresa in northern Mexico, which is modeled after a real epidemic in Juarez starting around 1993. The overall theme for me is writer as avatar. How it is that they are expected to make sense of life for us and reveal how to live. Is this role we hand them, Bolaño included, reasonable or absurd? The first section of the book leads us to this city by a strange route. Four scholars specializing in the work of a modern German novelist, Archimboldi, each from a different country, forge a friendship and engage in a game-like quest to find the extremely reclusive man. The presumption is that gaining information about his personal life can elucidate their interpretations of his work. They are led to his last sighting in Santa Teresa, where they (and we the reader) first learn about the murders. Two successive sections of the book bring us closer to the black hole of these crimes through two engaging characters. In the first, a literature professor from Spain, Amalfitano, moves to a college teaching position in Santa Teresa and soon begins to worry about the safety of his teenaged daughter Rosa. In the second, a black journalist from New York City, strangely named Oscar Fate, gets tasked with covering a boxing match in Santa Teresa in the face of the recent death of their sports writer. While there he gets hooked by the prospect of covering the murder story. The fourth section is a long account of the history of the rape-murders, including their investigation, suspects, and impact on the victims’ families. The last section jumps into the life of Archimboldi as a child in Prussia, his service with the German army in World War 2, and pathway to a career in writing after the war.From the first section, my guard was down, and I was charmed by the mystique that the academics build up over Archimboldi. I got a satiric amusement over the sense of their parasitic relationship to the writer. They essentially make a living off his works. Their efforts resemble the parable of the blind men describing the elephant from the different parts they experience, and in this case the elephant isn’t even in the room. That the three men take turns being in love with the one female scholar highlights their of interchangeability, as in the Paul Simon line about Celia: “When I came back to bed, someone’s taking my place.” Pursuit of the personal life of an author as a key to understanding their work reminds me of the absurd interest by literati in the lives of writers like Salinger and Pynchon. On site in Santa Teresa they begin to feel an element of evil in this border town. Looking beyond the seedy brothels, slums, and factory districts from their tourist cafe: The sky, at sunset, looked like a carnivorous flower.Amaltifano is no less on an abstracted plane as an academic. As a professor his work depends on the products of writers in different way than the critical scholars. As with all teachers his job is to help convey to his students how to pull knowledge from the writers’ transduced experience to help them address problems in real life or apply it in practical careers in our society. As a humanist we expect him to rise above the cynicism of the playboy son of the college dean, who tells him, “I’m telling you between you and me: the human being, broadly speaking, is the closest thing there is to a rat.” We want him to succeed in convincing his daughter not to party with people like him and drug gangsters. We feel the sense of helplessness of this sensitive man when he asks himself, “Why did I come to this cursed city?”. Is it a meaningful response when at one point he replicates the action of the Dada artist Duchamp by hanging a geometry book out to weather in nature on a clothesline as an “experiment to see if it learns about real life”? I loved this as an apparent testament to the impotency of art and math to make an impact on human violence: “In any case, nature in northwestern Mexico, and particularly in his desolate yard, thought Amalfitano, was in short supply”.The American, Oscar Fate, is more a man of action it seems. A product of the mean streets of New York and coverage of racial violence. His editor warns him to stick to his assignment, as the crimes don’t involve blacks, who comprise their readership. A female journalist from Mexico City engages him to visit with her a suspect in jail accused of a particular set of murders. Oscar can’t quite remember after a night of drinking if she was the one who told him: “No one pays attention to these killings, but the secret of the world is hidden in them.” Like me, you will probably be eager to see if Oscar makes any progress on the crimes.A lot of readers have trouble with the section of 2666 that deals more directly with the crimes. For me it was the core of the book, brilliantly done, and a big source some enlightening zaps. Maybe not like Paul had on the road to Damascus, but something to make me suspect what Bolaño is up to. About 100 of the murder-rapes are covered in some manner (in the main wave of the real epidemic of ““feminocidio” between 1993 to 2005, Wikipedia informs me of estimates between 200 and 400). It’s mostly a very indirect exposure to the violence that emulates police reports of victim details and elements of investigation, i.e. without the horrors of live-action portrayal we get in contemporary thrillers. But there is still plenty of horror in your imagination, sort of like what Hitchcock could evoke without directly showing murders. You can’t escape the sense of being hit over the head with this litany of death and torture. You quickly pass through awe at its enormity and human impact and on to numbness. Yet your eyes (or ears if doing an audiobook like me) can’t skip away as with TV images of war, terrorist, or catastrophe events. The permutations of personal destruction--form of rape, weapon inferred, injuries sustained—become a form of ghastly poetry. Mostly the victims are vulnerable low-income factory workers and some prostitutes. When some of the victims turn out to be children, you take another level on the downbound train (or fly out with pique at being hammered too much). What is a bigger heartbreak: a victim disposed carelessly in public spaces or their attempted erasure from a burial in the desert? For me, the latter (“If a woman was felled in the desert, and there was no on there to hear it, did it happen?). You eventually feel ready and even hungry to learn more of the backstory of some of the victims and the more about the ability of any family members to cope. Bolaño delivers on that in timely fashion.The context of organized crime, drug cartels, and police corruption are brought out through the story, but they do not make a focus. We get to know some of the police involved (city, state, and judicial), some corrupt or stupid, some humane or sharp. The medical examiner; the one woman staffing the office for sexual violence; prosecutors and defense lawyers; FBI and an Arizona sheriff for rare cases of American victims. Is it one or a few related killers or an epidemic of copycat crime? Quite the panoply of ineffective people are officially involved in resolving the problem, no less interpreters of the signs and signifiers behind reality than the critics and the professor who plumb the depths of literature. Some of my favorite characters are in a position to render for the reader a diagnosis of key causes or meaningful judgment of the crimes . One is a saintly herbalist woman who has visions about the crimes. On a regional TV talk show beseeches the government to do something:In dreams I see the crimes and it’s as if a television set had exploded and I keep seeing, in the little shards of screen shattered around my bedroom, horrible scenes, endless tears. …And finally she said: I’m talking about the women brutally murdered in Santa Teresa, I’m talking about the girls and the mothers of families and the workers from all walks of life who turn up dead each day in the neighborhoods and on the edges of that industrious city in the northern part of our state. I’m talking about Santa Teresa. I’m talking about Santa Teresa.Another indelible character is a woman psychiatrist who runs a local mental hospital and speaks to police inspector from her expertise on the criminally insane. She come alive as a warm, wise, and dedicated, open to an affair with the detective. Here she discusses with the dubious policeman of strange pathologies in the society, starting with “gynophobia” (fear of womn):Very widespread in Mexico, although it manifests itself in different ways. Isn’t that a slight exaggeration? Not a bit: almost all Mexicans men are afraid of women. …Some Mexican men may be gynophobes, said Juan de Dios Martinez, but not all of them, it can’t be that bad. What do you think optophobia is? asked the director. Opto, opto, something to do with the eyes, my God, fear of the eyes? Even worse: fear of opening the eyes. In a figurative sense, that’s an answer to what you just said about gynophobia. In a literal sense, it leads to violent attacks….Will Archimboldi emerge as a superman to make sense of the madness? Is the disease of Santa Teresa part of a larger pattern that a novelist can puzzle out and put in context or provide guidance like Dante’s Virgil past Hell to redemption? Inquiring minds want to know. This part of the book is to be your reward for passing through an artificial limbo of the first sections and the pit itself in the fourth section. What purgatory will forge his spirit? Some brilliant writing awaits you in this section. Absurdist elements in the vein of Vonnegut alternate with mythological forays buried in the stories the future author absorbs from others in his journey through wartime Poland, Brittany, Romania, and Russia. The stories of Prometheus, Sisyphus, Odysseus, and Dracula become worked into the fabric. By juxtaposing a contemporary epidemic of violence with the World War 2 experience of Archimboldi, and then titling the book with a distant 2666 containing the “Number of the Beast” from Revelations, Bolaño surely is making a moral call to action. This book doesn’t yield unambiguous solutions, but it does leave with hope that some paths are worth pursuing. There are a lot of characters in this tale, and although they tend to struggle alone, many are able to forge enough connections other lives to dispel any sense of existential isolation. The book says to me that we are not alone in this journey, and that by opening oneself enough you can find others headed in the same direction as you and perhaps collectively break out of our destructive patterns, I am in no position to fully appreciate the main crucible for the book in the real femicides in a troubled Latin American borderland, but it makes a potent epitome of pathology in our human civilization . What I garner from Web accessible elements of the author’s life is a confidence in his deep knowledge of political struggle against tyranny and in his gifts in marshalling language: growing up in Chile, where he aligned himself with Allende, exile to Mexico after Pinochet’s rise, where he found a voice as a poet, and, from the 90’s,a permanent home in Spain where he settled into family life and development remarkable skills in fiction. The book was a last effort before his death in 2003 at age 50 and was published essentially as a first draft in 2004. I don’t detect any problems with its construction and craft that this fact might imply. I very much look forward to his other acclaimed work, “The Savage Detectives.”

  • foteini_dl
    2018-09-19 00:48

    Καθημερινά συμβαίνουν μικρά και μεγάλα γεγονότα που έχουν μικρή,μεγάλη και κοσμοϊστορική σημασία για τον κάθε άνθρωπο ξεχωριστά,μία ομάδα ανθρώπων ή την κοινωνία συνολικά.Η ανάγνωση του "2666" είναι, λοιπόν, ένα κοσμοϊστορικό γεγονός για μένα.Ίσως να μην υπάρχει κάποιος που να έχει μιλήσει τόσο πολυεπίπεδα για το θάνατο,τη φρίκη και τον έρωτα.Αυτό ΤΟ βιβλίο,ο "Οδυσσέας" του Joyce και το "Εκατό χρόνια μοναξιά" του Marquez αποτελούν την δικιά μου Αγία Τριάδα.

  • Edward
    2018-09-07 21:55

    There is a moment in the second part of 2666 where Amalfitano laments the tendency of readers to favour the short, perfect works of the literary masters, over the great, imperfect ones. This novel is clearly Bolaño's attempt at the latter, from a writer who knew that in all likelihood it would be his last. The novel is unfinished, though not so much in the sense of being incomplete, but it lacks polish, as if Bolaño did not have sufficient time for revision before he died. It is beautifully paced. At times it is supremely immersive, at times exceedingly dull. It is written in a simple, direct style, with an occasional roughness that resonates with its general indeterminacy. A vague sense of unease permeates the novel.But 2666 celebrates its imperfection: it is loose and sprawling; it makes no attempt to generate a tidy narrative; its general thesis is elusive, as is even the meaning of its title. The reader is constantly forced to engage with the author to question every aspect of the novel. What is Bolaño trying to do here? What is the purpose of this or that digression? Why does he describe all of the Santa Teresa killings in such graphic, yet tedious detail? Is he comparing (or contrasting) this with other killings in the book? Is he implying something about the way that the nature of murder can change with circumstance, or is he arguing the opposite? Perhaps this is a commentary about the value of women, or the state of the Mexican nation, or of Mexican culture? The novel allows a wide interpretation of each of the multitudes of questions it raises. 2666 is a search; a question unanswered. Bolaño uses endless ambiguity to force the reader to personally confront every question directly. As a novel its nature and meaning are elusive, but it reveals something rare and indefinable. Bolaño has succeeded in creating a novel that does what a great novel should: it provides a framework; a muse for the contemplation of the struggle for meaning in a complex world.

  • Sofia
    2018-08-30 22:57

    Το 2666 αποτέλεσε το προσωπικό μου Έβερεστ για πολλούς λόγους. Αρχικά, ας ξεκινήσουμε από το προφανές :το μέγεθός του. Νομίζω, μετά την Πόλη στις Φλόγες είναι το δεύτερο τόσο ογκώδες μυθιστόρημα με το οποίο καταπιάστηκα και προσωπικά δεν θα το χαρακτήριζα κανένα τρομερό page turner. Υπήρχαν σημεία που κυλούσαν νερό και άλλα που μου φάνηκαν βουνό. Βλέποντας λοιπόν το μέγεθος κατάλαβα ότι έπρεπε να δεσμευτώ για αρκετό χρονικό διάστημα σε αυτό ξεπερνώντας την αναγνωστική μου ματαιοδοξία. Γιατί κάθε συστηματικός αναγνώστης, κακά τα ψέματα, έχει ένα κομπιουτεράκι στο μυαλό του που κάνει συνεχώς «ταμείο» των όσων διαβάζει. Σε αυτό το σημείο ήδη αποκόμισα το πρώτο μεγάλο κέρδος από το μυθιστόρημα: βούτηξα τόσο απόλυτα μέσα του, στην αγνή χαρά του να διαβάζεις κάτι για όσο, μέχρι όποτε, γιατί απλά περνάς καλά μέσα στις σελίδες του.Το βιβλίο απαρτίζεται από πέντε μέρη για τα οποία θα σας μιλήσω όσο πιο σύντομα γίνεται. Το πρώτο μέρος, μας συστήνει μία ομάδα καθηγητών Γερμανικής φιλολογίας, με κοινό τους χαρακτηριστικό τον θαυμασμό που τρέφουν για το έργο του Γερμανού συγγραφέα Μπένο φον Αρτσιμπόλντι ο οποίος ζούσε ανέκαθεν μακριά από οποιαδήποτε μορφή δημοσιότητας. Με τα χρόνια αναπτύσσεται μία φιλία μεταξύ τους και τελικά αποφασίζουν να αναζητήσουν τα ίχνη του συγγραφέα στη Σάντα Τερέσα, μέρος όπου εθεάθη τελευταία φορά. Αυτό το κεφαλαίο είναι ίσως, μαζί με το τελευταίο, από τα αγαπημένα μου.Εκεί, λοιπόν, που είμαι έτοιμη να προχωρήσω με τα μπούνια στο δεύτερο συνειδητοποιώ ότι δεν έχουμε πλέον ως πρωταγωνιστές τους παραπάνω κριτικούς, αλλά τον καθηγητή του Πανεπιστημίου της Σαντα Τερέσα, Αμαλφιτάνο. Για τον δε Αρτσιμπόλντι , ούτε λόγος. Ο Bolaño ωστόσο χτίζει έναν ήρωα που αν κι έχει διαρκώς ένα «ύφος απουσίας» σε κάνει να τον συμπαθήσεις πολύ και να δεθείς μαζί του. Εγώ τουλάχιστον αυτό έπαθα. Επίσης η παρακάτω μπηχτή, γιατί μόνο έτσι μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί, του συγγραφέα με ώθησε να συνεχίσω την ανάγνωση με ακόμα μεγαλύτερο πείσμα:«Τώρα πια ούτε οι καλλιεργημένοι φαρμακοποιοί δεν τολμούν να αγγίξουν τα μεγάλα, ατελή, χειμαρρώδη έργα, που ανοίγουν δρόμο προς το άγνωστο. Διαλέγουν τις τέλειες ασκήσεις των μεγάλων δασκάλων. Ή κάτι που σε τελική ανάλυση είναι το ίδιο: Προτιμούν να βλέπουν τους μεγάλους δασκάλους σε προπόνηση ξιφασκίας, αλλά δεν θέλουν να ακούσουν τίποτα για αληθινές μάχες ενάντια σε αυτό το πράγμα, αυτό το πράγμα που τους τρομάζει όλους, αυτό που τους πανικοβάλει και τους κάνει να λυσσάνε, εκεί που υπάρχει αίμα, θανάσιμες πληγές και αποφορά.»Αυτό το αίμα και την αποφορά αρχίζουμε να την οσφραινόμαστε στο τρίτο πλέον κεφάλαιο με τον δημοσιογράφο Φέητ, ακόμα έναν νέο πρωταγωνιστή, ακόμα μία νέα αναγνωστική προσαρμογή, για να τα αντικρύσουμε πλέον κατάματα στο πέμπτο κεφάλαιο, τα Εγκλήματα. Ίσως να είναι από τα πιο ιδιαίτερα πράγματα που έχω διαβάσει ποτέ, γιατί ξετυλίγονται μπροστά μας περίπου 200 (!) δολοφονίες γυναικών δοσμένες με αποσπασματικές αναφορές, οι οποίες διακόπτονται από νέα πρόσωπα, πιθανούς υπόπτους και γραφή σχεδόν ξύλινη όπως αυτές που βρίσκεις σε αστυνομικές αναφορές. Παιδιά, κουράστηκα! Μέχρι και στον ύπνο μου τα έβλεπα. Ήταν νομίζω η πρώτη φορά στην ζωή μου που σκέφτηκα για μυθιστόρημα ότι θα μπορούσε να ήταν και μικρότερο.Ωστόσο, όπως πολύ σωστά αναφέρεται στις Σημειώσεις «Ο Μπολάνιο ήταν συνειδητός συγγραφέας». Κάνοντας, λοιπόν, μία έρευνα διάβασα ότι η Σάντα Τερέσα, όπου εκτυλίσσονται οι δολοφονίες, είναι ουσιαστικά η «λογοτεχνική εκδοχή» της πόλης Σιουδάδ Χουάρες όπου από το 1993 έχουν δολοφονηθεί 400 γυναίκες , ενώ εκατοντάδες ήταν αυτές που είχαν απαχθεί και αγνοούνται. Οπότε, φίλοι μου, όχι δεν θα μπορούσε να είναι μικρότερο. Ήταν ο ελάχιστος φόρος τιμής που θα μπορούσε κάποιος να αποδώσει σε όλα αυτά τα θύματα• είναι ένας τρόπος να μιλήσεις για το απύθμενο κακό που μόνο στην ανθρώπινη ψυχή μπορείς να συναντήσεις.Το τελευταίο κεφάλαιο με τίτλο Αρτσιμπόλντι είναι προφανώς αφιερωμένο στην ζωή του μυστήριου συγγραφέα. Πρόκειται για ένα αριστούργημα με τον Bolaño να μας δείχνει όλο το εύρος του ταλέντου του.Δεν θα σας πω αν αξίζει ή δεν αξίζει να διαβάσει κάποιος αυτό το βιβλίο, αλλά θα σας πω με βεβαιότητα ότι μέσα μου κάτι άλλαξε από τότε που το διάβασα. Δεν ξέρω ακόμα τι, ίσως να πρέπει να περάσει λίγος καιρός για να το προσδιορίσω. Το βιβλίο πάντως βρίσκεται ακόμα στο κομοδίνο δίπλα στο κρεβάτι μου.

  • Mariel
    2018-08-28 01:45

    If things work out, and sometimes they don't, you're back in the presence of sacred. You burrow your head into your own chest and open your eyes and watch." (That's from page 315. Probably my favorite page in 2666.)There were times when reading 2666 that I feared it was going to kill my love of reading. Kill it like some death toll statistics. Impersonal and I wasn't there. Somewhere far away, at someone else's hands. I'd forget my longings and not pick up another book. My hands eyes would go empty and I would not remember where to look again. Keyholes blind, doors shut. Almanacs from 2666, 1996 and 1946 were stolen by Biff from Back to the Future for sports games (the athletes will all die when they are forced to take a dive. Maybe the almanacs are fake). It doesn't matter when it is connections faded. This might not make a lot of sense. I have to watch myself in the Charly Cruz method of it depends on the movie and on you sacred night. Opening up yourself and making the small feel big. Restlessness is to be avoided at all costs. If there's not some other place to go to, some one to know... What else is there? That leads to more depressing thoughts and black moods.I both love and was sorely impatient with this book. It spoke to me in the gutters that I try to avoid. It also spoke to me in some that I avoid too much. I think that's where it wanted to go. I'm undecided about the first kind. Morini from part one with the inexplicable depression sitting in the built up part of London with Liz Norton (I'd sooner forget all about Liz. She was terminally uninteresting to me). Espinoza and Pelletier's loss in the red light district. The realness was in the emptiness, in the void that cannot be filled. I felt nothing when they had sex marathons and day dreamed fantasies of universities paying for conferences and steamy hotel sex and who will the lady choose as if there was an end goal and everything in between was a shadow not made from light. The answer is love didn't bells and trumpets parade to my lips. Bad lonely of "Oh, well co-eds are hot!" and the necessary sharpness of not knowing what you want. A sad sigh did answer, a fear of not being able to move. Boredom, too. I knew how Morini felt when he was paralyzed. It must have been on purpose. Who would care about these guys who breathe from altitudes up in the land of hoisted on their own petards (Bolaño gave them wedgies). I suffered the lonely emptiness for the emptiness that means something wedged (wedgies) with the impatience of profesors who get hit on by co-eds I would walk across the street to avoid. Maybe it shouldn't be filled. It's why I pick up books, I think. It wasn't until the unfilled in lines appeared between other bodies in the other four parts that I began to feel that this book had something to say that was better than a generic big picture. I did feel paralyzed... The whole self steering thing. Maybe I do it too much.I think it was in the second part that a character notices that a young man prefers the minor works of authors such as A Christmas Carol to the messy battling it out with oneself works like the Pickwick Papers or A Tale of Two Cities (I prefer Bleak House myself. Or Our Mutual Friend. Not that that is important to this review). There is something about forgetting to be restrained. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to navigate between the two kinds of empty. I don't know which has what or the other. I guess I'm bringing this up because I feel 2666 is the one that meant more to the author that he didn't take the step back. It's kind of silly to say that, maybe. The whole book is a step back (hence the often static characters). Maybe I'm not alone in too much eye shutting?D'oh the afterword quotes that part and it said something about the books that tackled the big issues that affect us all. I prefer (and I'm probably wrong to prefer my own memory but that's how it is) that they battled their own navigation's of emotional and mental pitfalls. Less controlled and more making shadows with all the rest of the people. I'm going to walk across the street to avoid guys who write afterwards afterwords...I make my battle plans from the spirits of my sleeping soldiers said Napoleon. I like that quote a lot. There's something similar said by a character in the fifth section. What if who is remembered in 2666 is the shadows. If you could tell who the long shadows belong to... The women killed in Santa Teresa. They didn't get to be more than how the love and blow jobs and death of the other people would speak too loudly for their notices. I liked that the Archimiboldians tried to stay out of the wrong kind of shadowy thoughts with their books. Lola with her possibly homosexual and crazy poet. I got something out of this book so I did like it. I still feel restless though. I don't know if in a good way. I feel like I have to watch myself from thinking too long about how empty it felt to read about all of the blow jobs and anal sex and coke snorting and murder (it was probably supposed to be so ridiculous). Sleeping, worst fears and avoiding emptiness. I did get something out of this book and that means there's hope in just doing the allowing something sacred to come in. Yeah, this is a good book. P.s. I also really liked pages 334-335 (parts three and four were my favorite). The happiness of thinking you getting something and the uneasiness if you don't. Who cares about classic status? That's damned awesome to have that.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2018-09-12 18:36

    Original Review:A five-book moribund monsterpiece from Chile’s most profitable and posthumously prodigious literary export. Each book has its own narrative identity while retaining the Bolaño stamp: sprawling sentences savaged by commas, a free indirect style where dialogue blends with prose and narrative position hops from person to person, strange poetic waves of readable and glorious prose, and nasty sex. The Part About the Critics is the funniest section: a suckerpunch satire where a cast of lonely academics chase the spectre of the German author Benno von Archimboldi. This is where the Bolaño scholars get out their T-squares. The Part About Amalfitano has made no lasting impression on my memory. The Part About Fate follows a black sports journalist investigating the unsolved murders in Santa Teresa which form the fly-swamped rotten meat of the novel. The tone changes to the moody, horrific and powerful, subtly shifting into the detached reportage used in the next section. The Part About the Crimes is the toughest (and longest) part of the book. Almost three hundred pages of clinical descriptions of increasingly repulsive murders, here the hot sticky hell of Santa Teresa sets your face on fire for a punishing tour through Dante’s Inferno. The Part About Archimboldi is a more straightforward biographical WWII story. These are basic summaries. Within each section are hundred other stories and digressions, each entertaining or tedious depending on your mood (or how sore your thumb is). A few times in the book, the story moves from third to first person without warning and some sentences go on for pages. In other words, this is for very patient readers only, those willing to seek out the beauty and pain and love and torture at the heart of this outstanding book.Additional:Pronounced “twenty-six sixty-six,” not “two-six-six-six.”

  • Mike Puma
    2018-09-13 22:45

    So many intelligent and thoughtful reviews already exist for 2666 that another, one from the School of Redundancy School, seems like a waste of time that would be better spent rereading any of Bolaño’s works. This is one that will haunt me, one for my To Reread shelf, then for my To Rereread shelf. What I look forward to most—Bolaño-freak that I am—are the inevitable volumes of Bolaño criticism to come and the opportunity to reread RB’s writing along with them, bumping what now are 4-star ratings to 5-star ratings, and mourning the day that we lost him.

  • Jesse
    2018-08-29 19:46

    Written under the specter of his own death, Roberto Bolano's "2666" is a statement of the capacity of cruelty that resides in the darkest heart of humanity. The novel is really five novellas, thematically tied together, and centering around the fictional Santa Teresa (Cuidad Juarez in our world) where hundreds of young women are being raped and murdered. The plot of the novel takes a back seat to the real driving force which is the nightmare deathscape of Santa Teresa. There is some great yarn spinning as Bolano is a gifted storyteller, but "2666" lacks any overall narrative with a traditional beginning, middle, and end. In this way the novel resembles "Infinite Jest", as there are multiple characters who interact peripherally and whose meaningful, and potentially fatal, interaction takes place outside of the text as the reader must project more narrative onto the end of the novel.The main character of the novel is a reclusive German novelist named Benno von Archimboldi. His story is told in Part 5, while Part 1 tells the story of four critics who are enmeshed in Arhimboldi's oeuvre and each other. Part 2 tells the story of a college professor named Amalfitano, who is slowly losing his grasp on reality after moving to Santa Teresa with his teenage daughter. Later on the daughter meets a black journalist named Oscar Fate who is the subject of Part 3, after being sent to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match, this despite the fact that he isn't a sports writer. Part 4 leaves us in Santa Teresa to give us an eyes held open (think "A Clockwork Orange") look at this border town and her merciless murders. Part 4 is the most harrowing section in modern fiction, right up there with "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis or Hubert Selby Jr.'s "Last Exit to Brooklyn". Except Bolano shows us not just the bloodthirsty (this being the desert) murders but also the pathetically inept city police, the suspiciously apathetic politicians as well as the devastated families. As the descriptions of murdered and (usually) raped women are repeated, you strangely become used to the death and it is only the brief descriptions of human remains, which no one claims or which are never even identified, that reawakens you to the sheer horror of this fictional border town. The police rarely solve any of these murders and the county attorney tries to pin all the murders on one man, which seems viable until the dead girls start showing up again while the suspect is locked up. This takes us to Part 5 which, as aforementioned, tells Archimboldi's story. But it's not what these characters do that gives this novel its forcefullness, it's what these charcters are searching for.It is a natural human response, after being witness to an atrocity, to search for a reason - to try and find out what caused this unthinkable act. As humans, we continually fail to recognize that these horrific acts are not anomalous, nor are they the response of some extraordinary circumstance. They are just an aspect of humanity, a symptom of the disease which is human free will. And in "2666" this shameful beast rears its head repeatedly. Bolano draws parallels between the female homicides in Santa Teresa and the pogroms of Eastern Europe in the early 1940's. In both cases one group held extreme power: both industrial power, and economic power. And, living within the same geographical area, was another group - helpless, and lacking the industrial and economic power to collectively protect themsleves - and thus the more powerful group began a movement of mass murder. Compliant in these murders were the community in which they took place. Whether from fear of retaliation, or a sense that the victims themsleves brought about their own demise (in Santa Teresa becuase the were "putas" and were asking for it, in Romania because they were jews: the vermin of the earth). After the deaths began to mount and became uncontrolable, people then began to look for answers - a reason for all the death. Yet Thanatos was already summoned and not taking kindly to requests to leave. It is into this vortex of death that all the characters of "2666" are sucked. They all are looking for something, slowly losing their grasp on reality, slowly losing their faith in humanity. Each character is moving closer and closer to what David Foster Wallace calls "the default setting" of which there is a "constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing." This is the ultimate reason for "2666" as Bolano was racing against his own death to make a final statement about the world in which we live. When we look back in the year 2666 we will see these horrific acts - the Holocaust, the murders in Cuidad Juarez - not as singular acts of unfamiliar human conduct, but as two examples of the all to familiar trait of human cruelty. And just as today no one remembers 13th century atrocites, in 2666 all the pain, suffering, and questioning of our characters will be dim reflections of the invincible living.

  • George Georgiadis
    2018-09-18 19:52

    Κάποτε υπήρχαν 10 τρόποι για να γράψεις ένα μυθιστόρημα και αυτό να χαρακτηριστεί ολοκληρωτικό. O Μπολάνιο επινόησε τον 11ο τρόπο γράφοντας το 2666.

  • Zaphirenia
    2018-08-26 22:35

    Θα 'θελα να περιμένω να "κάτσει" λίγο μέσα μου πριν γράψω κάτι για αυτό που μόλις διάβασα, αλλά δεν κρατιέμαι είναι η αλήθεια. Θα προσπαθήσω λοιπόν και είναι πιθανό ότι στις επόμενες μέρες θα χρειαστεί να τροποποιήσω την κριτική μου αφού θα έχω αφομοιώσει λίγο καλύτερα αυτό το (κατ' εμέ) αριστούργημα.Καταρχάς, προκαλώ τον οποιονδήποτε να δοκιμάσει να περιγράψει αυτό το βιβλίο. Το πιο κοντινό που μπορώ να σκεφτώ είναι ότι μοιάζει με ένα παγωτό με μία γεύση που αποτελείται από πολλά διαφορετικά υλικά, τα οποία βγαίνουν ένα-ένα στην επαφή με τη γλώσσα: πρώτα λίγη σοκολάτα, μετά μια ιδέα λεμόνι με φράουλα και στο τέλος μια επίγευση καραμέλας. Και παρόλα αυτά δένουν τέλεια σε σύνολο. Ξέρω, σαφέστατο, αλλά μέχρι εκεί μπορώ. Είναι από εκείνα τα βιβλία που σου κάνουν κλικ αμέσως, διαβάζεις 10 σελίδες και λες "εδώ είμαστε, πέσαμε σε διαμάντι", κάτι κουμπώνει και δεν χρειάζεται να πας πολύ παρακάτω για να καταλάβεις ότι ερωτεύτηκες. Αυτό έπαθα εγώ με τον Bolano.Σε πολύ γενικές γραμμές, το 2666 χωρίζεται σε πέντε μέρη με μια λεπτή και αρκετά χαλαρή σύνδεση μεταξύ τους, που μπορούν να διαβαστούν και ανεξάρτητα, όπως άλλωστε ήταν και η πρόθεση του συγγραφέα, ο οποίος βλέποντας το θάνατο να πλησιάζει είχε δώσει οδηγίες να εκδοθούν χωριστά ώστε να αποφέρουν μεγαλύτερο κέρδος και να εξασφαλίσει καλύτερα την οικογένειά του μετά θάνατον. Ο εκδότης και οι συγγενείς του δεν συμφώνησαν με αυτήν την άποψη και, μια και το έργο εκδόθηκε μετά το θάνατο του Bolano, έχουμε στα χέρια μας αυτό το τεράστιο (από κάθε άποψη) έργο.Το πρώτο μέρος είναι η ιστορία τεσσάρων καθηγητών πανεπιστημίου και κριτικών λογοτεχνίας που αναζητούν το ίνδαλμά τους, τον Γερμανό συγγραφέα Μπένο φον Αρτσιμπόλντι, που ζει εδώ και πολλά χρόνια εξαφανισμένος. Στο δεύτερο μέρος, βλέπουμε την ιστορία ενός χιλιανού καθηγητή πανεπιστημίου που ζει στη Σάντα Τερέσα του Μεξικού με την κόρη του, μια πόλη στην οποία δολοφονούνται καθημερινά γυναίκες. Στο τρίτο μέρος περιγράφεται η ιστορία ενός μαύρου Αμερικανού δημοσιογράφου που ταξιδεύει στη Σάντα Τερέσα για να καλύψει έναν αγώνα πυγμαχίας και βρίσκεται στο κέντρο των εξελίξεων ως προς τα εγκλήματα που έχουν γίνει πλέον καθημερινότητα για αυτήν την πόλη. Το τέταρτο μέρος έχει ένα τελείως διαφορετικό ύφος: ο συγγραφέας εγκαταλείπει τη μυθιστορηματική γραφή και υιοθετεί ένα δημοσιογραφικό ύφος. Τα θύματα περιγράφονται ξερά, με πεζότητα και εν είδει καταλόγου. Και πράγματι, έτσι, είναι αν αναλογιστούμε ότι το τέταρτο μέρος βασίζεται στην πραγματική ιστορία των δολοφονιών της πόλης Χουάρες του Μεξικό, όπου δολοφονήθηκαν εκατοντάδες γυναίκες μέσα σε λίγα χρόνια. Οι κοπέλες βιάζονται βάναυσα και δολοφονούνται με κάθε δυνατό αποτρόπαιο τρόπο αλλά στην πραγματικότητα δεν πρόκειται για κάποιο αξιοσημείωτο γεγονός μια και τα θύματα έχουν δύο χαρακτηριστικά που κάνουν τα εγκλήματα αυτά, όσο συχνά και φρικιαστικά κι αν είναι, να φαίνονται κοινά, ασήμαντα: είναι γυναίκες και είναι φτωχές εργάτριες ή πόρνες, που στην κοινή συνείδηση των κατοίκων της μικρής πόλης πολλές φορές είναι το ίδιο.Για το πέμπτο μέρος δεν λέω πολλά, γιατί δε θέλω να κάνω κάποιο spoiler, αλλά είναι το μέρος που ο Bolano επιβεβαιώνει στον αναγνώστη αυτό που είχε καταλάβει από τις πρώτες 20 σελίδες: ότι είναι μια ιδιοφυΐα.Δεν περιγράφεται αυτό το βιβλίο. Πρώτα-πρώτα, περιέχει αμέτρητες ιστορίες, ιστορίες μέσα στις ιστορίες και εγκιβωτισμένες αφηγήσεις που εκτείνονται από τις αρχές του εικοστού αιώνα μέχρι τις αρχές του εικοστού πρώτου. Έπειτα, δεν έχει ένα συγκεκριμένο θέμα, αλλά μιλάει για τον έρωτα, το θάνατο, τον πόλεμο, το ρατσισμό, το σεξισμό, την τέχνη, την επιστήμη, τον εθνικισμό, τη μοίρα, τη φτώχεια, την πείνα, την αγάπη και επιπλέον ένα από τα αγαπημένα μου θέματα μέσα σε βιβλία: την ίδια τη λογοτεχνία. Πάντως, ένα είναι το σίγουρο: χίλιες τόσες σελίδες κύλησαν νερό.Επίσης, για το BRACE μπήκε σε αυτήν την κατηγορία: B.R.A.CE. 2018 4 βιβλία με έναν αριθμό στον τίτλο ή στο εξώφυλλο(Νο. 3)

  • Praj
    2018-08-28 02:43

    Occasionally a book comes along whose peculiar title is the sole purpose of the purchase. Immediately commencing on the initial pages, it plunges you in a labyrinth of complete brouhaha enmeshing every demented string whilst deciphering normalization of reasoning. And as the book concludes, you emerge with a smile of gratification as you have been just mesmerized by the aura of a genius.2666 is a metaphysical necropolis of the cavernously hidden trepidation and disparagement that frequently seek the light of retrieval in the arroyo of darkness. Bolano dallied with his liver transplant prospect for the completion of 2666. Sadly, this became his posthumously published work. Boasting about it to be "the fattest novel in the world", Bolano certainly fashioned a laborious mass of 900-pages of surreal inquisition about the "menacing of evil".Evil is unspectacular and always human. And shares our bed and eats at our own table. Highly inspired on the thesis of Melville’s Moby Dick, this allegorical saga sections into five parts (originally to be published singly).The volume opens into an description of four European lecturers energetic on their exploration for a Pynchon-like German writer Benno von Archimboldi as much as they liked to bed each other. Their search transports them to an immigrant town of Santa Teresa in Mexico. While only two of them (Pelletier & Espinoza) hear about the nightmarish slaughters, their sexual escapades and affluence insulates them from the callous realities. As the narration twists through muddled delirium of murky shadows, the crimes are brought closer to susceptible locals. A Chilean professor Amalfitano who left Spain to acquire a teaching post in the University of Santa Teresa is a nervous wreck. He deludes himself with auditory hallucinations and fears of going deranged with the prediction of his only daughter becoming a victim of the ongoing femicide. As you enter the third segment ('The Part about Fate'), the felonies spill open wrecking the mindset of an American sports reporter - Oscar Fate. His brush with the nightmarish elements of the city peels off his judiciousness making him flee out of town. Finally, 'The Part about Crime' spews out the dreadful venom opening in 1993 with a corpse of a 13-yr old girl and concludes with a dastardly accumulation of 108 corpses by the 1997. The concluding chapter on Archimboldi depicts the convoluted passage as he fights for the Third Reich on the Eastern European front to his early writing career amid the malice and impunity of Holocaust ruins and bringing a rational closure to the double-crossing enigma when he travels to Santa Teresa in his twilight years.Evil is omnipresent; excavating perished horrors. The underbelly throbbing with utmost mockery of human survival and perversion of power reeks out of Santa Teresa. A fictitious substitute for Ciudad Juárez (factual town in Northern Mexico), Bolano delineates a gruesome picture of violent female homicides that swept the town since 1993. Statistics of the victimology constitutes to nearly 5,000 female corpses with most of the homicide cases remaining unsolved. From ignorance to apprehension to being an active spectator of the gruesome murders, Bolano illustrates the frequency of crime touching the lives of each interlinked protagonists amusingly underplaying the reality."About the women who’ve been killed", said Chucho Flores glumly."The numbers are up. Every so often the reporters talk about it. People talk about it too and the story grows like a snowball until the sun comes out and the whole damn ball melts and everybody forget about it and back to work. People have no time for in this shithole".Resilience to the flourishing corrupted environment is prevalent primarily in the third world cities. When life encumbers from daily struggles for food and shelter amid fighting against the totalitarian implementations, ignorance becomes the greatest mode of defense until panic engulfs one’s genuine emotions.Bolano encompasses themes of passion, power, corruption, and savagery regaling Archimboldi’s active part in the War brimming with accounts of barbarism, rape, mutilation and treason. In the terrains of Germany when a man kills his wife while the government turns a blind eye, corresponds to the catastrophic finicky state of the Mexican authorities failing to decipher the ongoing femicide. 2666 resurrects ghosts of the past reliving the nightmarish conundrum in the core of human souls sinking to the bed of an ocean where the cerulean abyss becomes a metaphor of lunacy and defeat;anything but tranquil.Speculation on the devilish date of 2666 which appears nowhere in the book is a contested ambiguity. The closest one can come in decoding the label is in reference to the biblical Exodus from Egypt- a vital moment of spiritual redemption, was supposed to have taken place 2,666 years after the Creation. "The erection of the Tabernacle(tent of meeting),God's dwelling-place among his people, occurs in the year 2666 after God creates the world, two-thirds of the way through a four thousand year era which culminates in or around 164 BC, the year of the rededication of the Second Temple."On the contrary, Santa Teresa harshly conflicts the sanctified significance as it resembles a cosmic cemetery of unearthed spirits. Or perhaps, the 'Tabernacle' implies the human body to be a temporary abode of the soul. Either way it is a canopy in which everything has the clarity of water.

  • El
    2018-09-15 21:41

    This is one of those books that surpasses anything positive or negative I might manage to say about it. This is one of those books that I can say with a fair amount of certainty actually consumed me. I thought about it constantly while I was reading it, and while enough time has not passed since I finished it this morning, I am fairly certain I will be thinking about it regularly for quite some time. I showed it to someone at work and said it would be the kind of book to cause my brain to explode if it did not end the way I wanted/hoped/expected/anticipated/etc. My brain exploded. And it itches now, the inside of my head. A lot.In a nutshell (since the story actually takes just shy a few pages of 900) the central character is reclusive German writer Benno von Archimboldi, but there are so many other characters that it is hard to focus on one character and say "this is the one". They all served a purpose, and ultimately all wind up in Santa Teresa (more recognizably Ciudad Juarez to the rest of us) where hundreds of girls and women are raped and murdered (based on the true story). The book is split into five parts, some of which read more easily than others (the section primarily about the murders I found tedious at best as even I, with my stomach mostly made of iron, had trouble stomaching such an attack of visual imagery, section after section repeating almost the exact same images). Each of the five parts are told from the perspective of different characters, but Archimboldi's writing plays a part in all as does Santa Teresa and the murders. There are motifs and symbols out the wazoo here, and I think even if I kept detailed notes throughout the reading I would have missed a few. On top of that I find out now that Roberto Bolano uses a lot of the same motifs in his previous books, which, ah hell, now means I need to read them all and probably be consumed by each and every one of them in turn.More accessible than Proust and Pynchon put together, I was driven the entire time to finish the book to find out the meaning of the number on the cover. I also became obsessed with the cover (I normally try not to put much stock in the cover images unless it's Margaret Atwood since I know she chooses her own covers for specific reasons) - Gustave Moreau's Jupiter and Semele (be still my heart)... and now I'm finding myself analyzing the hell out of that choice. Does it relate to the story? Is there a connection? Is it a random choice, outside of the one small Moreau reference in the book which probably went unnoticed by most people as just another artistic/literary reference? And now I also need to brush up on my Greek mythology to see what more I can gather about Jupiter and Semele's relationship, and try to trace a relationship to 2666...One day if I have a brain aneurysm, the central reason will be this book.Interestingly today when I returned the book to the library and picked up another book on-hold, the guy at the counter had a book off to the side of his keyboard. I saw that it was Nazi Literature in the Americas; when I looked closer I saw that it was written by Roberto Bolano. Random coincidence?I want to talk about this book a lot, I want to discuss it with people. But I certainly can not do it the right amount of justice. And I am saddened that Bolano died before he was able to finish it, even if they do say he was near the end anyway. I still feel like there is more that should have been included, more characters I would have liked to have been fleshed out more, more avenues investigated. But I can't really complain, overall. Except maybe for this persistent itch in my head that just won't go away even after I finished reading it.

  • Bülent Özgün
    2018-09-08 19:46

    Bu kitap dopdolu bir edebiyat sevgisiyle, kitap sevgisiyle, yazma ve okuma eylemine duyulan aşkla yazılmış. İçinde sizi hemen saran büyük bir gizeme ve etkileyici bir dile sahip. Daha ilk 200 sayfada anlıyorsunuz ne denli büyük bir eser olduğunu, çok büyük bir keyifle okuyorum. Çevirmen Zeynep Heyzen Ateş'in de ellerine sağlık, kusursuz bir çeviri yapmış, akıp gidiyor, hiç rahatsız etmiyor.Kitabın yarısından çoğunu okudum hala da devam ediyorum.Bu devasa eser hakkında yazılan tüm övgülere katılıyorum. Bir hayli uzun süredir (5-6 ay olmuştur) okuyorum. 5 ana bölümden oluştuğu için araya başka kitaplar almakta mahsur görmedim.Bunu 2666'dan sıkıldığım için yapmadım, sadece hemen bitmesini istemedim. Bu yaklaşık 1000 sayfalık eser öyle büyük br hızla ilerliyor ki hayran olmamak elde değil. Kimi yerlerde 2666 için "Bolano ölümle yarışarak bitirdi" deniyor ve bana kalırsa kitabın kendi hızı göz önünde bulundurulunca bu çok doğru. Stephen King'in de dediği gibi “Bu doğaüstü roman tasvir edilemez; bütün ihtişamıyla yaşanması gerekir.” O kadar devasa ve yaşam dolu ki anlatmak imkansız. Bu kadar uzun süre birlikte olmak kitapla aramda bir bağ geliştirdi, kitaplığımda o sarsıcı heybetiyle her gün beni selamlıyor, beni oku diyor. Her sayfasını büyük bir merakla hiç sıkılmadan okuyorum. Ve bundan sonra Bolano ne yazmışsa okumaya çalışacağım.Bir de çeviri konusunu açmak istiyorum ki Zeynep Heyzen Ateş muhteşem br çeviri yapmış, öyle akıcı öyle güzel bir sesle çevirmiş ki kitabı çeviri kokusunu almak mümkün değil. Kitabın cüssesini düşünürken bile ne büyük bir çeviri emeği olduğunu farkediyorsunuz; hele ki böylesi devasa bir edebi eser ne kadar zor bir çeviri süreci gerektirir. Ama Zeynep hanım, kusursuz bir iş çıkarmış okuduğum bölüme kadar hiç cümle düşüklüğü yahut baskı hatası görmedim. Kısacası kitap hakkında yapılan yorumlardan birine tüm kalbimle katılıyorum: "2666, en yalın ifadeyle, yirmi birinci yüzyılın ilk gerçek başyapıtıdır.”---4. bölümü de bitirdim. Son bölümü daha sonra okuyacağım. Muhteşem bir eser. Devasa bir eser. Sizi içine alıyor, orada yaşatıyor, kendisine alıştırıyor. Mutlaka okuyun. 4. Bölümde 300 sayfa boyunca yüzlerce kadının ölümünü ve ara hikayeleri okudum. İnanılmazdı. Son bölüm ilk bölüme bir nebze daha bağlantılı. Mükemmel 4 roman okudum diyebilirim. Zaten Bolano bu 5 romanın ayrı ayrı ve birer sene arayla yayınlanmasını istemiş. Ben de onun dileğini yerine getirip 5 ayrı roman olarak okuyorum.---Ve son bölümü de bitirdim. Önceki bölümleri çok güzel bir biçimde bağlayan tatmin edici bir bölümdü. Tabi tüm bölümler gibi bağımsız bir kitap gibi de okunabilir.Büyük bir boşluğa düştüm, çünkü 1 yıldan uzun süredir 5 kitabı ayrı ayrı zamanlarda okudum ve kitap benim için arada bir konuştuğum iyi bir dost gibi olmuştu.

  • Srividya
    2018-09-11 23:43

    This was a really difficult book to review, not because it was complicated but because there is so much to say that even when you feel that you have said it all, it feels like you have just touched the surface. I write this review in a state of muddled thoughts, which might reflect in the review; so I ask you all to be patient and bear with me and to not judge this book by my abysmal attempt at reviewing it! Okay, let us begin, shall we?Imagine that you are walking along a trail; it could be a mountain trail, a trail by a stream or river, or through the lush green meadows that form a part of any valley or even a trail in a nature park. Imagine yourself surrounded by nature’s beauty in its entirety, where you don’t know where you end and nature begins or where nature ends and you begin. Having imagined that, imagine your thoughts at that moment in time. If you are truly one with nature at this point, I can safely predict that your mind will be blank and your person surrendering itself to the higher power while you take in the awe inspiring beauty and serenity around you. This was the case with me and this book, I was awestruck from the beginning and it didn’t end even after I finished it. Of course, I will have to admit that this book is not all serene and neither is it all beautiful but even in its brutality or in its worst moments, this book reaches out to you with all its angst and glory, so much so that you don’t want to put it down even when you know that you are going to hurt! Coming back to my walking analogy, how often do we walk or drive, simply for the sake of doing it, where the destination doesn’t matter as much as the journey itself? If you haven’t done that, don't fret about it, instead just look at any river or stream that flows through the land and you will see that neither river nor stream is worried about its destination but exists only in the present, beautifying the surroundings with its gentle nature and sharp clarity. So also with this book, beauty is found in the journey rather than at the destination, although I have to say that the final destination is awesome by itself. In short, if you are looking for something like a whodunit or even a classic with a tale told in a linear manner, with the beginning, middle and end clearly specified, this book is definitely not for you. Reading this book, I was reminded of the Mahabharata, where several small stories make up that magnum opus. Bolano adds flavour to his book by incorporating many smaller tales, which are basically insights into the mind, mental makeup, history and emotional quotient of each of the many characters that are introduced in this book. These stories or offshoots form the foundation as well as the entire construction of this book, where you go off on so many journeys that you are left in awe and wanting more when it all ends. So, if you love to meander through paths unknown, without any specific destination in mind and if you love the small offshoots of these paths that take you to even more beauteous locales, where you simply want to immerse yourself into the beauty that you see during your journey, this book is an excellent choice; for it brings to you tales within a tale, where you learn a lot about everything and nothing, where your questions are answered and yet some remain unanswered and you aren't really worried about it. In short, it is a book that talks about life, living, society, culture, pain, brutality and much more within its ginormous pages!Bolano’s 2666 introduces you to a variety of characters with different ideologies, thought processes, habits, needs, wants, sexual preferences, lifestyles, not to mention different criminals, their differing motives and intents as well as different types of crimes. As mentioned earlier, each story has a story within it, which in turn has another story and these collection of stories form a tangential pattern that is quite unique and picturesque. Don’t get me wrong, the book does not contain unconnected stories, in fact, Bolano’s genius is in making all these stories come together under a common thread, which resonates throughout the book and which is both thrilling and spine chilling. Coincidences are myriad in this book and yet none of these coincidences are your usual ones and they are connected one way or the other to these various tangents. Interestingly, it is a place and its issues which bring these stories together. In short, Santa Teresa and its crime is the common thread where all ends meet. This small town with its chilling past and present is a mute spectator to these characters and their interactions while it also tells you a story of its own. In fact, I would say that the town of Santa Teresa is the main character and all others are minor ones that somehow get embroiled in the action that is happening here. 2666 is divided into five parts, where the author had initially decided to publish each part as separate. However, after his death, the executioner of his will and his close friend decided to publish them as a single book and I have to say that I applaud this action. This is largely because, the five books are initially unconnected and if it had been published separately, it would have lost its charm and focus. The first part of this book deals with literary critics who are in search of a reclusive German author, Benno von Archimboldi, who they feel is an author beyond comparison, whose writing is so fluid and lucid that one can’t help but feel the need to deify him to the highest level. Their search for this god-like author leads them to Santa Teresa. The second part deals with a philosophy professor who is in Santa Teresa. The third part deals with an African American journalist who comes to Santa Teresa for covering a boxing match and stays behind to cover the crimes. The fourth part deals with the crimes itself, which is truly gruesome and horrifying. The final part deals with the reclusive author and his life. Bolano’s genius lies not in connecting these disjointed parts but in writing each part in a different manner. The differences are subtle and can be noticed only if you read the prose carefully. The part dealing with the literary critics is lucid and flows like poetry, where he not only talks about literature but also talks about society in general, their view of literary critics, the world of literary criticism, the highs and lows of this world, the underlying competition, which is often cut throat and the individuals themselves, their characters, their sexual practices, their emotions and their needs. Bolano manages to recreate this world with his surreal prose that is truly awesome in its imagery. You feel as if you are actually living that journey. The characters of this path, four literary critics, or literature lovers if you please, are not made to be special and yet they become special as the prose meanders through these paths unknown.Bolano deals with life’s philosophies, meaning of life and existence and other important questions in the second part. He delves deep into human happiness, sorrow while also discussing the apathy that humans have towards others as well as living in general. He talks about the great abyss that one can fall into while living. The prose here is insightful and thought provoking, which really resonates with the reader. The third part can be compared with journalistic reporting. Bolano covers the part as a journalist would write an editorial or maybe a story. The prose is both personal and yet detached, which is a combination that makes this part really alluring. The fourth is about crimes and the author adopts a manner that is stark and yet gruesome, where the innate simplicity of the prose ignites a feeling of helplessness, fear, horror and a feeling of ineptitude, which gives way to morose and often morbid feelings. The final part is about the author, where again he uses simple prose that is elegant and at the same time stark to define the character of the author and his various experiences. Bolano’s grip over the minutiae is simply awesome. He doesn't stop at generally describing the situation or event or even the landscape but goes into the minutest of details, which enhances the beauty of the imagery through words. You feel at one with the descriptions, which don’t bore you one bit, in fact, it leaves you wanting more sometimes just so that you can stay immersed in his prose and descriptions. Whether it is the stark description of Santa Teresa during its crime or the description of the war and its various effects or impacts, whether it is the description of the sex in the book, Bolano creates a picture that stays in your mind even after finishing the book. The narration is intriguing, the connections between the stories are simply wonderful. There is a sensuality to the prose, a kind of passion, which is raw and yet pragmatic in its approach. It feels as if the author did not want to waste flowery language even when talking about sexual intercourse – words like fucked and screwed are used, not in a demeaning manner but in its most pragmatic form, and this simplicity actually adds flavour to the book than any flowery language would. The characters are somewhat coarse in their outlook, the terrain is rugged, which is why the prose becomes sensual despite the lack of sensuality in them. Let me try and give you an example of what I felt while reading this book, especially with regard to the writing and descriptions - When going by train from Pune to Madras, we used to pass through certain areas that were completely barren but for some enormous rock foundations. I used to love this part of our journey and used to wish that I could sketch. These tall rock formations did not have a uniform pattern but were pretty haphazard, as if done in haste, just putting any rock over the other, nevertheless the place brought about a sense of tranquility in me, a feeling that all was right and that there was supreme being with whom these rocks spoke. Call me foolish if you want but despite not being overly religious or spiritual, these rocks made me feel at one with my soul. Similarly, this book with its beautiful imagery of landscapes, deep introspection into the human mind and soul, its intensive characterization has brought within me the same sense of calm and quiet that I have always longed for. As I read the third part of this book, my heart was heavy, my mind clouded, tears were just in the offing, especially when I thought about the kind of a world we live in. It made me wonder about all the horrors in life that women have faced and still continue to face – the sense of power that a male dominated world wants and often gets, the strength with which women carry on about their lives, despite its harshness. As you can surmise, brutality to women, rape, murders, prostitution, gambling, machismo, gangster politics, terror, police brutality, frustration, unemployment, poverty, hierarchies in society as well as in prison, prison brutality, homosexuality, solitude, loneliness, madness derived from a bleak present and bleaker future, problems of the wealthy and those that lack it and finally sense of impotency leads to violent actions – impotence not due to inability to lead a sexual life but more due to the barricades that have been erected by society in general are some of the themes that Bolano tantalizingly touches upon, which makes the reading both compelling and yet melancholic.Finally, we come to the ending of this book, which according to me is like a musical piece in an orchestra, where the beginning is mild, almost tenuous in its approach, as if it were scared to shatter the sense of calm that is surrounding the listener; but once it starts, it slowly creeps forward, increasing in tenor, which keeps increasing until it reaches a crescendo unlike any other that you have heard and which takes you to a completely different realm, a non-chaotic chaos, a shattering of thoughts, a deluge of emotions, where you are spellbound, unable to take your eyes off the images that stare you in the face, unable to hear or think of anything else than the music that you are hearing, feeling your soul reach out to eternity, a moment of madness, a moment of clarity, a moment where you are truly one with your own self! There is that moment of silence, which no one dares or wants to break and then – a thundering applause, a standing ovation, goosebumps notwithstanding you have reached the zenith – that is how I felt when I finished. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time, a book that I will definitely dip into repeatedly, who knows what new things I will learn with each read, that I will learn something new is without any doubt!Sorry for this super long review and thank you to all those who have read it patiently. You all deserve a medal!

  • Geoff
    2018-09-03 00:41

    Some pages into 2666 I started to wonder where I had seen this technique before, Bolano’s scenes, his sometimes brief, sometimes protracted, sometimes linear and sometimes anachronistic vignettes (little bricks with white mortar in between that compose the foundation of this monster of a book). Then I remembered, Joyce employed the same style in the Wandering Rocks section of Ulysses (the one that starts with “The superior, the very reverend John Conmee S.J. reset his smooth watch…”). The Wandering Rocks is about 50 pages long, 2666 is 900. The effect of this technique, rather than becoming tiresome or bewildering, actually serves Bolano’s purposes well, as this is a novel told through action, through events, and this style of composing a novel out of shards of various lengths allows all the divergent, multifarious, snaking stories to play out in whatever breadth and width suits them.Surely, a reader looking for characters to attach themselves to, fully fleshed out, living and breathing protagonists to follow through the narrative, will be disappointed. People often barely exist in this book. With the exceptions of the Part About Archimboldi, and to a lesser extent the shorter Part About Amalfitano, characters are subjects of action and function, hundreds of them, they rise and vanish like shadows or phantoms or criminals, exist in the service of a branch of a story and then are disposed of. When characters do arise again, they are mostly only briefly glimpsed. What Bolano does so well is create a universe. The success of 2666 is its lament over the brutality of humanity, the vivid horror and tension of the world it creates, the countless narratives that sometimes entwine but mostly disintegrate into thin air, that linger or appear later like memories of dreams (another world that Bolano likes to explore; almost all of his characters dream at some point, even the very minor ones, and we learn a great deal about them and the novel in general through these dreams; they suggest a symbology and initiate recurring motifs that end up connecting, in unexpected and strange ways, the five rather dissimilar parts). The style of 2666 is violence and dream. This is a book trying to be something big, trying to get at many things, but only pointing around them, talking about them obliquely. It is a detective novel and a horror novel and an inventory of man’s inhumanity to man, a parade of natural and supernatural oddities, and a mosaic of modern maladies. In a way, it’s all here, but we never arrive at it and it is never named, and this story never ends. I think that what Bolano is suggesting, with the character of Archimboldi, is that amid a reality of chaos and violence it is the creative individual, the artist, whose greatest resource is himself, that finds his way out of the nightmare of history and withstands “our wolfhound age”.

  • Eddie Watkins
    2018-08-24 22:54

    It starts off innocently enough. A group of Academic Lit Nerds are mutually obsessed with an obscure novelist, and become obsessed with tracking him down in the flesh, which leads to a rather conventional but gripping opening act of this vast novel in five acts. The next two acts are equally conventional in their narratives, and equally gripping, but progressively darker, centered as they are in a northern Mexican city consumed by an outbreak of unsolved and gruesome murders of young women. Then the novel falls into the black hole of the fourth act, where the narrative threads themselves are engulfed and consumed by a litany of clinical retellings of these murders, nearly every one of which is unsolved and open-ended. The fifth act returns to more conventional terrain, in what is essentially a life story of the obscure novelist, but by this point all innocence is lost.The fourth act is much the longest, and can be a gruesome slog, so I was anticipating returning in the fifth act to the clearer, brisker narratives of the first three; but instead I encountered in some respects the storytelling equivalent of the death litany of act four. Nearly every character mentioned in this last act spawns at least one tangential story, often having no apparent connection to the narrative thread, and seemingly having no necessity of even being included; like when certain flowering plants, when sensing imminent death, will put on their biggest show. Bolano worked on this novel up until nearly the moment of his death, and the novel itself is a kind of danse macabre that was left for Death itself to complete. In our world it is not finished, but then it couldn’t have been finished, as its subjects are the endlessness of death itself, and the endlessness of storytelling, and how these two endlessly relate. Given this unfinished (and unfinish-able) nature of the novel, and for that matter the structure itself (a construction of interpenetrating but discrete units), there is much room for the mind of the reader to make connections and speculate on overall meanings in his/her readerly detective work. Bolano so loved sleuthing... The fifth act itself seems to be a feverish attempt to trump Death with a proliferation of narrative threads, and is somewhat mind-numbing (which in my speculations was possibly intentional). Up until the very end, when the obscure novelist heads to Mexico (at this point Mexico itself is equated with Death), and Bolano himself is dying, there are narrative threads arising that have no chance in the world of being tied up; the very last being a story about a three-flavored German ice cream! Significantly, the last word of the novel is "Mexico".In the end the main character of the novel is Death, and is strangely possibly the most fleshed-out of all the characters, most of the others being well-defined but still oddly artificial fleshless literary creations. Once again I think this was an intentional strategy, to emphasize that this world, and by extension this world’s literature, abides most fully in the kingdom of Death, that it is consumed by and made substantial by Death.

  • Nathan
    2018-09-05 01:57

    Reportage, (probably) not Reviewage .....I’ve already, even before I read them, paired this brick with DeLillo’s brick. So no complaints.The two have a few superficial things in common. Probably more than superficial, especially taking into account how my reading habits and predilections filtered them. Again, no complaints please.First is obvious and let’s just round up or down to a nice round eight or 900 pages each. Second, they are both wildly popular. Just look at them numbers. I mean, they are popular beyond expectation and reputation :: 15 and 16 thousand plus ratings. How are dense postmodern bricks making it to bestseller status etc ; (remind myself re: Pynchon, DFW, etc who get boo=koo eyes, so not so strange?). Thirdly, both are kind of diagnostic of something sick in society -- rape and murder in one (thank you for tell not show), trash in another (am I the only one who wanted more trash, less baseball?) Fourthly, they’re both realist novels. Fourthly is probably where my gripe is. Where’s the imagination and flights of fancy? Where’s that fantastical? Where’s the magical? Where’s the weird? Where’s the outrageous? Where’s the titillation? Where’s the part where you give me, Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis, precisely what I want? Or at least tell me what I want that I didn’t already know I wanted. Whether or not I’m justified in that demand, I do report from the field of my reading that I was waiting for it to jump out at me at any moment. And by it I mean more than the occasional dream sequence.Also, the prose. Very fine. Very controlled. Performed excellently. But, again, why isn’t it flying off to some undiscovered prosaic city in the clouds or civilization under the desert? For that kind of thing, You Bright And Risen Angels.....The structuration of each too was nicely done. But nothing not expected. Nothing inventive, innovative, or experimental. They both structure themselves in the manner in which novels structure themselves, both in terms of chronology (the plot v. narrative problem) and in terms of dialogism, polyphony, and heteroglossia. No but seriously, and with further mere reportage from the field, perhaps there is something to the ordering by which a reader files books under have-read. (Thanks to Friend aidan for providing this contrast in filing as have-read.....) But basically what I’m saying is that these two tomes, as fine as they both are in pretty much every novelistic category of judgement, neither was revelatory for this reader. And that is perhaps because I came to them both after having had experienced so incredibly much novelistic revelation in previously-read postmodern brickerpieces. I mean, the Pynchon, the DFW & WTV, the McElroy, the Gass, the Gaddis, the Young (always the Young), the the the the.... And so when I’d come to DeLillo and Bolaño I had very pleasant reading experiences. But why not?

  • Carl
    2018-09-13 00:52

    “Madness is contagious,” the most memorable line from this sprawling, desultory, Frankenstein of a novel. And madness is a tedious, dull slog in Bolano’s world. I can ride through a couple hundred pages of experimental obnoxiousness in an ambitious novel like this, as long as the rewards are there. But, ultimately, 2666’s rewards are minor.I started out liking this book, found it fascinating and darkly funny in the Kafka sense. From there the humor was either lost, or, later, shifted registers into that nasty Celine territory, which I can get interested in if something worthwhile is at stake, something important is being said or grappled with. But, as you read, it becomes evident that the stories and motifs are going nowhere, really, or perversely feeding back into themselves, as though written by a madman applying his very personal and idiosyncratic logic to stories and ideas, whose only end is to regenerate further applications of this logic, never getting anywhere--deliberately going nowhere--the sole purpose to keep his madness alive and thriving.If you’re looking for any remotely sympathetic characters, you won’t find them here. They’re not even characters--more like zombies, really. If you think zombies are cool, you may hate them after reading this book. “Death to zombies!” may be your new motto. Then there’s the sense that the novel is so full of literary inside jokes or elaborate cross-textual references so as to render it incomprehensible to a reader like me. I really couldn't stand nearly all of the final book. Was that supposed to be funny? interesting? fascinating? insightful?Masterpiece? I don't think so.While there is much to be admired in Bolano’s skills (his narrative command is excellent, which makes what he’s using it for frustrating), and he has some fine sentences, figurative and philosophical, the final experience of this novel is just plain boredom. Finishing the last page, I was left completely cold and disinterested in unraveling any the stories’ various enigmas.2666 comes across as a grand exercise in narrative obfuscation. If that’s what he was going for, mission accomplished.

  • Barry Pierce
    2018-09-14 00:57

    A genre-bending tome reminiscent of Pynchon and Calvino. This novel is made up of five seemingly unconnected parts that all wrap around a case of femicides in a Mexican town, by way of riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay. Bolaño weaves these stories together with surprisingly clear and coherent prose but which also show the mastery of his pen. Due to the genre-bending nature of this novel the reader may derive delight from one part but take umbrage at another. Novels that can register such a wide rage of emotions are few and far between. You may be put off by its length but it is a surprisingly quick read, the first three parts can be read in one sitting with the final two taking a sitting each for the average reader. It's a wonderful novel that I highly recommend but I will say that it is most definitely not for everyone.

  • trivialchemy
    2018-09-02 23:42

    [I realize the in thing right now is to publish revolutionary, anti-censorship reviews. Alas, this is not such a review. That said, it is highly off topic through almost the entire thing, not to mention explicit and possibly offensive to the mostly theoretical "Goodreads Team," and so I encourage you to flag it accordingly. --Ed.]That night, as he was working the door at the bar, he amused himself by thinking about time with two speeds, one very slow, in which the movement of people and objects was almost imperceptible, and the other very fast, in which everything, even inert objects, glittered with speed. The first was called Paradise, the second Hell, and Archimboldi’s only wish was to never inhabit either.In the same year that 2666 was published, though wholly ignorant of Bolaño and indeed of literature at that time, I first discerned the power of slowness. I was a freshman in college and utterly preoccupied with women and vanity. In particular, I had just begun to grow my hair long as an act of only symbolic rebellion and, more importantly, an act that I believed would attract the type of woman I lusted after: the creative girl, the liminal girl, who would never believe in crew cuts and Polos, symbolizing as they did the trappings of conformist attitudes and, more fatally, un-creativeness.I was very fast at that time. I barely slept, I read 1,000 words per minute, I ran everywhere like a man possessed or crazed, which I was. In the gym I lifted everything as fast as I could, to maximize my time, but it was also there that I finally saw the slowest man I had ever seen. It was his hair I first noticed. I did not sexualize it, exactly, and yet it was impossibly gorgeous: down to his shoulders and luxuriously curly, flawless. He was probably a senior and therefore bigger than me and much more muscular. But what I noticed more than anything was that when he lifted weights, he did it at one-tenth the speed of everyone else.When he walked into the gym, he walked to the benches so slowly that I wondered at first if he were lost. He loaded plates one at a time, deliberately but unconsciously, and then sat or lay down and began to lift, impossibly slow. I couldn’t stop watching him because that slowness conveyed such a tremendous strength. He didn’t need to move fast, because he had complete control over everything he touched.I began to see the energetic students speaking quickly, with feigned facility, in class as frauds, imposters. The business students or minor politicians on TV, running in circles around their bosses who ambled slowly through hallways were sycophants, idolators. Truly powerful men had no need for haste. Strength derived from slowness.A year earlier, on the 15th of July, 2003, Roberto Bolaño died of liver disease, possibly related to abuse of heroin in his young adulthood, although interviews with his wife have lately cast doubt on the truth of this latter rumor. The massive (nearly 1,100 pages in the Spanish edition) 2666 was published posthumously. The word posthumous, Bolaño apocryphally joked to Larry Rohter of The New York Times, “sounds like the name of a Roman gladiator, one who is undefeated.” Yet in spite of such apparent levity, 2666 was the central preoccupation of Bolaño in his years of declining health. As readers of his work, we are obligated to perceive this preoccupation not as a fascination with fame or notoriety, but for two quite separate reasons, the first being the practical concern with providing for his family (he once called his wife and two children his “only Motherland”), and the second being the artistic drive for completion, both of these things being inextricable from the ailing man’s certainty of his own mortality. Of fame itself, the enigmatic author central to the plot of 2666, pseudonymously called Benno von Archimboldi says,[Fame] was rooted in delusion and lies, if not ambition. Also, fame was reductive. Everything that ended in fame and everything that issued from fame was inevitably diminished. Fame’s message was unadorned. Fame and literature were irreconcilable enemies.And we cannot help but hear in these words the voice of Bolaño himself, as indeed we see the flesh and bone and sexual ambivalence and inapprehension of nationalism of Bolaño in some variously small or large way in each of his characters. But if it seems clear that neither Archimboldi nor Bolaño desperately sought fame in the twilight of his life, we do not therefore conclude that Bolaño was not desperate to finish, to be complete, for the reasons already mentioned. And indeed whenever I read Bolaño (not just 2666, but also The Savage Detectives), I hear in every single sentence, in the trajectory of every paragraph and page, an unmistakable franticness. It is, in short, impossible to read Bolaño slowly. Rather, Bolaño must be devoured, must be raced through; his reading must be frenzied, insatiable, the riding of a wave that we know must crest and then, suddenly, be finished, and yet we nonetheless paddle harder, contort our bodies in anticipation of that inevitable climax whose occurrence will put this all to an end at last and yet it never comes and so are we caught endlessly in this moment of anticipation through which we rush, furiously. Updike, a great admirer of Russia’s Vladimir Nabokov, once remarked that “Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written: ecstatically,” which synopsis always struck me as wholly and magnificently wrong, as if Updike were a man who craved not to understand why he loved Nabokov so much as to impose upon that love an arbitrary significance that gave a sort of empathetic justification to his own reasons for writing. Nabokov’s prose is rarely, if ever, ecstatic. Nabokov’s prose is clever; it’s aristocratic; in some ways, it’s perfect. But if one detects ecstasy there, it is involute: ecstasy, perhaps, only with the self-awareness that it is even possible to craft language, so effortful, with such precision. Delight with the character’s (and, by extension, the author’s) ability to bridge the divide between semantics and lyricism, or rather, to make semantics and lyricism the same thing:Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.In short, Nabokov can only be read one way: slowly.But through all this I do not intend to praise one or the other (of Bolaño and Nabokov) nor to even create some sort of tension between the two, whether between their art or between their persons. In fact, Nabokov and Bolaño have a great deal in common, particularly in their fascination with nationalism and national identity. Nabokov, we remember, was born into Russian nobility before the revolution of 1917, some time after which he emigrated to Berlin, and eventually to the United States where he was naturalized; most of his books preceding Lolita are in some way Kafkaesque and explore the arbitrariness and identity effacement central to the modern state apparatus. Though Bolaño lived his whole life in various independent countries of the former Spanish empire (Chile, Mexico, Spain), his characters spend pluralities of their time living, working, or vacationing in most of the Western world, to include The United States, Mexico, Central America, Spain, France, Germany, London, Israel, Egypt, and so on. Indeed the fifth, largest, and arguably most important part of the 2666 quintet features the aforementioned protagonist Archimboldi who is a German (if a profoundly ambivalent one, after serving as a foot-soldier in the Third Reich), and takes place almost entirely in Germany. Bolaño’s voice as a German protagonist is easily as convincing as Nabokov’s rendering of Humbert Humbert as an English one, a comparison that is unique and complimentary considering that as a child Nabokov could read and write in English before he could do so in Russian. This affinity between the two authors eventually returns to the question of their slowness or fastness and renders that distinction paradoxical. Nabokov comes from a time of aristocracy, of leisure, in which the construct of class analyzed by Marx in the period just preceding Nabokov’s birth, despite all the reasonableness of his critique of its economic function nevertheless created a group of people who had the luxury of living life very slowly. With time and money, one can indulge any fascination to its logical limit or excess; and indeed, even when we think of a historical figure such as Peter the Great (the last Tsar significant for his accomplishments rather than his overseeing a period of revolutionary upheaval), traditionally associated with almost limitless industry and energy, we do not think of a frenetic energy, but a calm, measured one. A teenager spending casual years with his hobbies of hunting and shipbuilding and war gaming, which indulgences would later inform the rationality of his rule as well as his naval supremacy. I think also of the martial artist or Samurai of the Eastern world, who would spend years mastering some small, seemingly peripheral act, such as the tea ceremony, and how that mastery would regulate and center his role as warrior. It is the dense reader indeed who does not discern this leisure, this slow mastery and fixed rationality in Nabokov’s craftsmanship of language. Indeed all his prose’s power derives from this slowness and deliberateness. Read Nabokov slowly, and you will feel your tongue dancing along with the words: a slow-motion, lingual ballet. On the other hand, if we wish to associate Bolaño with an act of the tongue, we have to discard all the varieties of phonetic beauty and find ourselves left with, at best, fellatio, furious and messy, a sex act central to the misogynistic relationships both in Savage Detectives and 2666, an act of domination and machismo that harbingers the rapes of the barely-fictional Santa Teresa while also emblematizing the prose style of Bolaño itself, which dominates and leaves us metaphorically gasping. Here there is no slowness:[comical Arturo Belano blow job scene from The Savage Detectives which I can’t cite right now since my brother stole my book]Indeed, for Bolaño, all sex acts are exaggerated: fictitious, sexualized outlets of the activity of outsized egos. General Etrescu, one-time military superior of Archimboldi and lover of the Baroness von Zumpe who will eventually become the owner of the publishing house that sponsors Archimboldi’s writing, is said to have a phallus nearly a foot long, “the stamina of a horse,” and carries out the act of coitus with bizarre, other-worldly abandon:… and then Entrescu closed his eyes and cocked his head as if to listen to something, the music of the spheres, and then he opened his eyes and sat at the table and set the [B]aroness [von Zumpe] on his cock, erect [yet] again (the famous foot-long cock, pride of the Romanian army), and the cries and moans and tears resumed, and . . . the Romanian general recited a new poem, a poem that he accompanied by waving both arms (the baroness clinging to his neck), a poem that again neither of them understood, except for the word Dracula, which was repeated every four lines, a poem that might have been martial or satirical or metaphysical or marmoreal or even anti-German, but whose rhythm seemed made to order for the occasion, a poem that the young baroness, sitting aside Entrescu’s thighs, celebrated by swaying back and forth, like a little shepherdess gone wild in the vastness of Asia.Sex acts are not numerous in 2666, and oftentimes they are in the background, such as when Archimboldi’s sister Lotte becomes pregnant within a relationship that is rendered as sterile and conspicuously sexless; nevertheless, their few instances are critical to the novel’s reading. Sex in Nabokov – principally pedophilia in Lolita – is hinted at, suggested; though critics insist on calling it an “erotic novel,” explicit sex scenes are absent, actual acts of rape only hinted at, indeed their forms prefigured and then figured by intentionally not speaking of that which they consist. Sex in Bolaño, on the other hand, is an energetic, hysterical prelude to climax whose occurrence is physical in the characters but utterly absent for the reader. Like being swept along in Bolaño’s prose, we are riding an impossible wave that never crests, partially because the sex acts themselves are impossible, and partially because the tonality and pace of Bolaño’s description of sex does not differ, in construction, from, say, his description of the inhabitants of a madhouse, or the endless, painful catalogue of the bodies of dead girls in Santa Teresa, their wounds, their sexual violation, the results of their autopsies, and the fruitless results of the subsequent police investigations.Indeed, all is a kind of madness. And it only goes away when one stops reading.And here we arrive at the paradox. For Bolaño, too, derives his power from a slowness. But we perceive that slowness through its absence, as in Lolita we perceived violation through its unmentionableness. Returning to the real world after being immersed in Bolaño, one returns from a world where words and members and indeed all historical significance are so large, so much faster than what should be so, into a place of slowness. And in doing so do we see that the real world possesses a power we never knew existed, an inexhaustible power, inexhaustible like the forces of procreation and the father whose seed yields a child. This child who now runs through the grass and makes guns out of sticks and crawls, infantry-like, through the dirt and mud and the father gazes upon him and says, “alas! the energy of a child!” and yet it is the father in his slowness who has the power.And indeed the child sleeps and in his sleep he dreams of a fantastic eye, large and grotesque and horrifying, an eye which is all-seeing and wishes to consume him and which at first terrifies him utterly until he realizes that he was birthed from this eye, that its vitreous humour is equally womb and therein lies his genesis and there is nothing to fear. Yet, fearless, he awakes screaming for his mother, a mother who comes rushing into his room in the dead of night to comfort him and he knows that it is only she who can save him, and at the same time, just as strongly that she can never save him, for to do so she would need to possess of fatherhood, of its slowness and absence, and this is the one faculty of which she is eternally bereft.

  • Conrad
    2018-09-13 01:03

    A really outstanding read, a book so vast and wide that it takes up a space well beyond its eight hundred-something pages. I found the language in the last book a little too abstruse in places (what, for example, does desperation smell like?) and a little too declarative in The Part About Fate; I have a nagging suspicion that amid the plot of The Part About Amalfitano, there were hints as to the identity of (one of) the killer(s) from The Part About the Crimes - on one of the occasions that someone drives Amalfitano around Santa Teresa, I'm certain it's in a black Peregrino. Some of the threads that bind the text could have been tightened a little bit, I guess. But these niggling complaints are entirely subsumed by the inventiveness of Bolano's prose and his dense, fascinating characterization. Characters in 2666 don't ever appear to have boring thoughts or routine days. Bolano remarked that 2666 has a "secret heart." This is no exaggeration - the bareness of the sinews that connect the two opposite ends of the book, Archimbaldi and the murders of the women in Santa Teresa, only becomes clear in the last twenty pages of the book or so. 2666 is full of people telling stories about things that they heard and things that happened to them, and even very few of these stories are ever corroborated or given closure. And yet it's not irritating, it just makes you curious. Klaus Haas's lawyer, who despite being well-educated has a lot in common with the whores her client is accused of killing, could have used another 300 pages or so. So could have Amalfitano's daughter. So could have General Entrescu and Baroness von Zumpe and (above all) Lotte, who is maybe the most boring person in the novel but who struck me as more empathetic than all the other characters in the book put together; reading about her was like being given a bottle of water after wandering through a desert for a week.Bolano has things in common with Musil, Proust, Ellroy, Heinrich Boll, and Gunter Grass; he seems to be to be more strongly allied with the postwar tradition of western European writers than any South American writers that I know of. (I don't get at all what he's supposed to have in common with Borges...) But his style is completely his own. He has listened to Kundera's advice about using motifs in long prose - I kind of want to start this over and reread it just to catch all the patterns I missed the first time around. Why is it so much easier for me to connect bits of Wagner together in my head than bits of Bolano? Anyway, there is indeed a web of not symbolism, precisely, but recurring bits of business that need reexploring.I don't think I can put this on my Masterpieces shelf - I need to read more Bolano. But I might down the road.[300 pages in:]So far, this book is pretty remarkable for being so easy to read. It's like drinking campari and soda - you only notice when you try to stand up. Unlike other books of its scope, there aren't all that many daunting shifts in perspective or a whole lot of self-conscious experimentalism, just a completely commanding narrative voice that ever so subtly implies what the characters are thinking underneath what it tells you they're thinking. I don't think I've ever read such a masterly third-person perspective. And it's so unshowy but so icy, aggrieved, and wise at the same time. And seductive! It's really hard to stop thinking about and in, um, Bolañese.I'm thinking in particular of this moment when Norton and Espinoza and Pelletier meet in a restaurant, and the narrator mentions in passing that the tables are somehow the wrong size, and would only seat four people uncomfortably. The three have left their fellow academic and friend Morini out of their love triangle and out of this meeting, as always, because (it is implied) none of them are capable of considering Morini a sexual threat or an object of attraction - something that he only dolefully thinks about every now and then. The narrative trick here is that there's no need for a table for four, but the possibility of a fourth person is perhaps meant to perch in the reader's consciousness as lightly as Morini's absence does in the three characters'. If I were writing a novel, this is the kind of thing I would never, ever be able to do on purpose, but which Bolano does so incredibly well. I could be wrong, but so far, this is reading like it's going to end up on my "masterpiece" shelf.