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2666 (2004)

by Roberto Bolaño

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4161741,417 (4.12)8 / 717
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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English (154)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  French (3)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Italian (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (176)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Extremely graphic descriptions of brutality towards women for 300 pages of this 800 page book, serving absolutely no purpose. The author is a skilled writer, but even forgetting the violence towards women, I'm still left wondering what the point of this story was. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
"play and delusion are the blindfold and spur of minor writers"

Intelligence: above average
Character: cryptodidactic
Scholarship: ossified
Storytelling ability: epistolary
Prosody: reportage
German usage: chaotic.

On Cryptodidactic Character:

I continue to draw inspiration from the clarity of Martin Paul Eve’s review of the text: “2666, being composed of several, anachronistic, practically autonomous sub-books and without a clear arc of narrative progress, can be seen as a novel that instead seeks to effect change through subjectification processes [...] an ‘experience book’ as Timothy O'Leary might term it." Martin's evaluation of the character of the work is also on target: “Such a conjunction of process and subjectification has an internalizing pedagogical function one might term ‘cryptodidacticism’ in the sense that "the reader believes himself or herself to be an autodidact, even though, in fact, the text presupposed its particular teachings in advance." The term, 'cryptodidactic' is not meant in the pejorative sense. The constituting premise of the so-called “modern epic” genre (and most literature) is the promise of a ‘remuneration’ after fording the “river of voices” (Bolaño's phrase). Put another way, within Martin Paul Eve’s framework of “investing intellectual capital,” one must investigate whether 2666 produces returns. Though limited by (intentional?) weak scholarship and (intentional?) numbing prose, 2666 is rescued from complete loss by the rare moment of humor.

On Ossified Scholarship:

Bolaño's European pastoral is competent, though derives its internal movement from an exterior source of catastrophe. There are two senses of “scholarship” worth investigating in 2666, the first kind being that employed in the construction of the text, and the second in the portrayal of “scholarship” within it. Both are ossified. On the spectrum from Flannery O’Connor, “I simply make it up,” to David Foster Wallace’s “technical writing,” Bolaño's loose descriptions and hagiography have greater affinity with the former. Compared to “The Part About the Crimes,” other ‘sub-books’ are as light as air; they appear as framing device in elliptic rotation around the center of mass of the novel. These sections are more fairy tale than facticity, as if, from the perspective of probationary existence, there is no point in learning any more from the particularity of a lived experience. Contrast this scholarship with that of Sebald, whose fictionalized accounts at least appear to have the weight of fact as ballast. Likewise, Bolaño's critique of the modern critic’s bone-headedness produces the most vociferous condemnations in the text. 2666’s university establishment (whose chancellor is literal twin of the police force) practices a fruitless scholarship, as if one were trying to milk the stone(/bone). That collection of unnamed, stupid young critics who turn up to the so-called literary gatherings already full of their own bad ideas is Bolaño's hateful vision of the future-present. Moreover, the older Critics’ adoration of Archimboldi is almost entirely without content, and functions as narrative scaffold and launching pad for a series of entanglements of human relations. No comment on what is particularly unprecedented/impressive in Archimboldi’s novels (probably a wise omission in retrospect). When a text has nothing left to give, one has to meet the author. A similar empty-skulled impulse drives the Critics’ pursuit of the author Archimboldi, the only possible result of which is another article in a literary journal. Travel to Mexico for a tryst. The use-value of scholarship is seduction (in both senses). This is an ossified view of scholarship, which perhaps explains why 2666 cannot escape this same quality in its construction (Contrast with Martin’s interpretation: “keep writing”).

On Epistolary Storytelling:

The narrative form of the ‘sub-books’ is a series of exposition (usually well-done) and rising action (competent), as one might expect from reading a series of exchanged letters (one is lucky to have discovered anything at all). The narrative itself includes, with surprising frequency, multifarious ‘found letters’. New characters are constantly being introduced, and we always appears to be in the ‘middle’. As if real life is circulating behind the scenes, and the narrative entirely reconstructed from epistolary objects (whose writers necessarily must have lived to complete the composition – explains why a person can never be killed in the first person in the text for then how would they write about it). At moments of intrusions of incommensurable violence into the epistolary novel (Archimboldi’s strangulation of the war-criminal, the Critics beating of the cab driver), so-called “real-life” adumbrates behind the paper-thin narrative.

On Reportage as a quality of Prose:

The prose in “The Part About the Crimes,” is remarkable for occupying an unusual middle space. In Bolaño's account of the series of murders, the prose lies somewhere between medical examiner report, police note, and newspaper article. Bolaño includes a certain amount of specific information: the location of body, clothing worn, cause of death, violence/sexual acts committed upon the body, likely perpetrator, and often less than all this. The curious quality of these descriptions is they are far less detailed than a technical medical examination, contain none of the personal details or narrative of events of a newspaper article, and none of the extensive inventories of a police note. This low level of technical detail occurs only in a VERBAL or distantly-recalled account of someone who has just learned the details of the case but has forgotten all of the specific information. (Bolaño is doing a good impression of someone who knows nothing at all and is merely writing some prose (coincidental having the exact same effect of utter ineptness (has anyone tried writing badly intentionally?)). In reportage, which is already the third-hand account of an event (victim --> examiner --> reportage) the experience of violence is categorically excluded. Other reviewers remark the constant refrain of “both vaginally and anally raped” which produces simultaneously a numbing effect (because it is repeated so frequently in absence of more detailed descriptions of events) and ‘shakes one awake’ from the narrative to consider the experience of the individual subjected to this mistreatment. Though it would appear equally likely that one might come out the other side of it thinking that none of these events are real. Sometimes the perpetrators are captured , usually they are the ones we first suspect, sometimes there are no leads and the investigation dries up. There does not appear to be a conspiracy. The officers do not appear to be particularly incompetent or corrupt in the individual case. (the tension between the Narcos and the police establishment however… or the tension between the university and the police … or the tension with Europe and the “new world” … or the tension between the blond Klaus Haas and the eponymous Austerlitz of Sebald’s novel …)

On Chaotic German Usage:

“Supremely Ignoring” "...in the slightest." "friends of friends of friends get around and do you favors"
To his infinite benefit, Bolaño is occasionally funny.
drying the tears that ran down his cheeks with his coat sleeve, and then the doctor was moved and he stepped forward and put a hand on Reiter's shoulder and said that he too had a leather coat like this, like Reiter's, except that his was from Mason & Cooper and Reiter's was from Hahn & Forster,

He meets a jazz musician who tells him about chickens that talk and probably think.
"The worst of it," the musician says to him, "is that the governments of the planet know it and that's why so many people raise chickens."
The boy objects that the chickens are raised to be eaten. The musician says that's what the chickens want.

( )
  Joe.Olipo | Jun 4, 2023 |
I enjoyed the first few sections of the book immensely. The long fourth section is grisly and hard to read. I felt uncomfortable and stressed every time I spent an hour reading it, and I stopped. I'd like to skip to the end of that section, then finish. I'm not sure how to rate a book I couldn't finish, but wanted to. ( )
  jhylton | Mar 23, 2023 |
  BegoMano | Mar 5, 2023 |
  BegoMano | Mar 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roberto Bolañoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amutio, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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
First words
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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Disambiguation notice
Volume 1 of the Italian edition of 2666 in two parts: La parte de los críticos; La parte de Amalfitano; La parte de Fate
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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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