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2666 by Roberto Bolaño

2666 (2004)

by Roberto Bolaño

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,9481231,300 (4.16)8 / 608

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English (109)  German (4)  French (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Japanese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
``An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom.'' -- Baudelaire

If there was ever a book impossible to write a review about, it must be Bolaño's 2666. Having just finished the book, I have the urge rating it with five stars. The last 100 pages were really amazing.

However, I also remember the utter boredom I felt while ploughing through the Part about the Crimes. I sometimes had to drag myself towards the next page, often wondering why I was wasting my time on seemingly random sentences about random people doing essentially nothing. I was travelling at the time; if I would have had another book with me, I'm not sure I would have continued with 2666...

If you're really into literature, and looking for a masterpiece of language and epicness, but don't mind the lack of a compelling story in a book, then 2666 is definitely something for you. Don't expect a conventional novel however. This is a beautiful piece of art not to be toyed with.

I guess you'll rate it with either 1 or 5 stars. I'm sticking with 4, because of the middle part which I *hated*, even though I feel like I want to reread the whole book... ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
started reading this back in 2009 and put it aside after i got bogged down in "the part about the crimes" . I made it to page 428 but will likely have to start over even though i actually remember quite a bit of it
  prairiegrl | Mar 17, 2015 |
I didn't get very far with this work. Too meandering for my taste, and also meanders into arenas I'm just not interested in. So although I didn't like it, it wasn't for lack of writing skill or storytelling...just not my kind of book. So 3 stars because I feel like the fault is not in the book, and 2 stars would be too harsh. ( )
  Laine-Cunningham | Feb 22, 2015 |
A book I found far more interesting than good. In 2666 Bolaño gives us five interconnected novellas all concerning a few key topics, namely the fictional author Benno von Archimboldi and the murder of hundreds of women in the Mexican city of Santa Teresa (a fictional version of Ciudad Juárez). Of these novellas only the first of the five, titled The Part about the Critics, works as a standalone story. The rest of the novellas lack a resolution, understandable in a way considering that the real-world murders that inspired the book continue to this day, but the lack of resolution nevertheless frustrated me. After the first novella the book created an expectation of resolution, and given the interconnected nature of these stories some form of final tying together of all the threads seemed possible until only a hundred or so pages were left of the book- at that point it became clear that Bolaño didn't have sufficient time to resolve all the conflicts and mysteries he had raised. One could argue that this isn't a book about resolutions but about continued mysteries, and that's actually a strong position with a decent amount of textual evidence, but at the end of the day a novel with that approach just isn't my cup of tea.

The individual parts of the novel are varied, with all being conceptually interesting at the very least. The part that most exemplifies this is The Part about the Crimes, which chronicles the dozens upon dozens of murders in Santa Teresa and the less than inspiring efforts to catch the perpetrator. Each murder is given a brief description, with a small spoonful of context, before moving on to the next one. As the body count grows higher and higher it's all but impossible to remember each individual victim, and so going forward you tend to pay less attention to each new victim. Bolaño, by going over each and every victim in this manner (this is the longest of the five parts), manages to transform a seemingly sensational series of events into a dull routine. In this way he desensitizes the reader to the murders, normalizing them so that they lose individual importance in the same way that such crimes have slipped off the front page in Ciudad Juárez in real life. It's fairly brilliant, but it's not that enjoyable to actually read. All the parts do interesting things, but none of them stood out to me as being both theoretically interesting and interesting in practice.

In a way, however, 2666 is more than the sum of its parts. As characters reappear and you make more and more connections you immerse yourself further and further into this fictional take on Mexico. It becomes your world, a dark and disturbing world that is more impressive than any of its component novellas. It's just too bad for me that such a world contains no resolution, as it makes me feel as though the world is ultimately unfinished, and therefore unsatisfying. If you don't need resolution of any sort in your books then right now I envy you, since I'm sure you'll absolutely love 2666. For me it's a 3/5. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.


Of literary critics, professors, journalists, crime detectives, and cult writers

2666 is Roberto Bolano's master statement. Published a year after his death and translated into English a few more years later, it is an enormous book that defies summary. The novel's core is the violent killings of women in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, a town that parallels the Mexican border town Ciudad Juarez. Revolving around these murders are literary scholars in search of a reclusive cult writer, a professor who struggles to maintain his sanity, a journalist sent to the town to cover a boxing match, and the cult writer himself. Written with prose that is all at once riveting, insightful, humorous, deadening, and resonant, it is that kind of death defying novel that only few writers can come up with.

Last year, I chose this as my first read of 2012 with a fellow blogger. We do not know how to approach this. We were wishing ourselves loads of good luck because we were intimidated by the sheer length of the book, not to mention the preconceived notions I had for it. I imagined it to be a long, tough, and boring read. Long is undeniable; the latter two are dubious.

The book turned out to be very entertaining. It helped that the first part, The Part About the Critics, is about four scholars who talk nonstop about their literary careers with people within their circle. These four are all interested in the works of the German writer Archimboldi, a writer whose shadow they have never seen and who is even a worse recluse than Thomas Pynchon. When rumors of his appearance in a Mexican town reach them, they set out to look for him, and the reader never hears of these scholars again.

Anyway, these ideas or feelings or ramblings had their satisfactions. They turned the pain of others into memories of one's own. They turned pain, which is natural, enduring, and eternally triumphant, into personal memory, which is human, brief, and eternally elusive. They turned a brutal story of injustice and abuse, and incoherent howl with no beginning or end, into a neatly structured story in which suicide was always held out as a possibility. They turned flight into freedom, even if freedom meant no more than the perpetuation flight. They turned chaos into order, even if it was at the cost of what is commonly known as sanity.

This book is composed of five parts supposed to be published separately, which is what the writer instructed his inheritors. However, this was not fulfilled due to practical considerations and respect for the entirety of the five books. Although these five are not even tightly connected with each other, I agree with the decision to put them all together into a single volume. Yes, the parts could possibly stand alone on their own, but their disconnectedness links them all together in a mysterious way.

This disconnectedness is immediately felt as one proceeds with the next parts, The Part About Amalfitano and The Part About Fate. These two are people (yes, Fate is a person) who have nothing to do with the first part. These are equally good, although I have to say that the former felt incomplete, which could be deliberate given the tendencies to madness that Amalfitano has.

The main course is The Part About the Crimes. Here, the reader is immersed into hundreds of terrifying forensic reports of women killed, and either thrown or buried all around the deserts of Santa Teresa. These reports resemble news clippings gathered from different tabloids and broadsheets. By the 50th case, one must be too desensitized to feel nauseous about the gruesome details of the decaying bodies' states. Perhaps this is the intention. The writer must have had a vision of a nearly apocalyptic world so filled with violence that killing has become a mundane activity.

The murders are not real and yet they give one a visceral sensation given their matter-of-fact descriptions. Nonfiction is employed to create a fictional world as opposed to the nonfiction novel claimed to be popularized by Truman Capote. It is like a documentary based on imaginary events, and reading through this part will make one convinced that these are the ones that really took place and not the ones that were recorded in the real life Ciudad Juarez.

The final part, The Part About Archimboldi, tells us, finally, the life story of the writer who wouldn't show himself. Although it is not proper to call it The Part That Would Sum Up 2666, it unconsciously justifies that alternate title. Archimboldi's musings on his writing, violence, and the connection between the two are intuited here, but only in mercurial fashion.

So to catch the slow susurrus of Bolano's statement, submit yourself to all parts of the novel. Do not make a deliberate attempt to dissect the novel. Do not expect anything. Do not fear. But do prepare to be overwhelmed. ( )
1 vote angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
”2066” är en av dessa sällsynta romaner man skulle kunna bosätta sig i.
Nu bör alla som inte redan skaffat och läst den ha slängt på sig halsduken i farten, störtat ut i hösten och vara i fullt fläng på väg mot närmaste bokhandel.

(Note: this is not the same review as the other one by the same reviewer. It concerns a different translation.)
added by Jannes | editDagens Nyheter, Jonas Thente (Oct 19, 2010)
Lever han upp till sina ambitioner? Tveklöst. ”2066” är en av dessa sällsynta romaner man skulle kunna bosätta sig i.
"2666" ist ein kühnes, wildes, hochexperimentelles Ungetüm von einem Roman. In der vorliegenden Form keineswegs perfekt - besonders der zweite, dritte und fünfte Teil haben große Längen -, ist er doch immer noch so ziemlich allem überlegen, was in den letzten Jahren veröffentlicht wurde.
added by lophuels | editFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Daniel Kehlmann (Oct 14, 2010)
Theorie her oder hin, "2666" ist ein ungeheuerlicher Wal von einem Roman, er bläst seine Fontänen hoch in den Äther.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roberto Bolañoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carmignani, IlideTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wimmer, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom. -Charles Baudelaire
For Alexandra Bolaño and Lautaro Bolaño
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The first time that Jean-Claude Pelletier read Benno von Archimboldi was Christmas 1980, in Paris, when he was nineteen years old and studying German literature.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312429215, Paperback)

Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: It was one thing to read Roberto Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives last year and have your mind thrilled and expanded by a sexy, meandering masterpiece born whole into the English language. It was still another to read it and know, from the advance reports of Spanish readers, that Bolaño's true masterpiece was still to come. And here it is: 2666, the 898-page novel he sprinted to finish before his early death in 2003, again showing Bolaño's mesmerizing ability to spin out tale after tale that balance on the edge between happy-go-lucky hilarity and creeping dread. But where the motion of The Savage Detectives is outward, expanding in wider and wider orbit to collect everything about our lonely world, 2666, while every bit as omnivorous, ratchets relentlessly toward a dark center: the hundreds of mostly unsolved murders of women in the desert borderlands of maquiladoras and la migra in northern Mexico. He takes his time getting there--he tells three often charming book-length tales before arriving at the murders--but when he does, in a brutal and quietly strange landscape where neither David Lynch nor Cormac McCarthy's Anton Chigurh would feel out of place, he writes with a horror that is both haunting and deeply humane. --Tom Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:07 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

An American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student interact in an urban community on the U.S.-Mexico border where hundreds of young factory workers have disappeared.

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