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Profile Image for Christy.
Author 5 books400 followers
October 11, 2009
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 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."

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
969 reviews6,869 followers
January 26, 2023
Every hundred feet the world changes.

Only poetry isn’t shit,’ Roberto Bolaño writes in his mammoth fragmentary novel, 2666. The self-mythologizing author figured himself a poet first and foremost, claiming the impetus for his many novel’s prolifically written in the final decade of his life was to give people a reason to want to read his poetry (having money to take care of his children after his early death was, likely, another part), yet the scale and scope of this book is a sort of poetry all of its own. It is a big book that leaves a piece of itself within you once you’ve read it that fills the space where a piece of yourself seems to have been worthily sacrificed to be devoured by the novel. For that reason it is impossible to truly separate this novel from yourself when recalling it, as the reading process and your own life feels pertinent to your impressions on the novel. This was a book that made me consider what it would mean to be poetry, quite literally in the way Henry David Thoreau meant when he wrote ‘my life has been the poem I would have writ,’ and experiencing this book was recognizing the poetry of life in action. This is a complex, multilayered novel that looks at violence and the perpetrators of it to better comprehend evil in a world that is still filled with beauty if we only dare to identify it amidst the darkness, and it is a novel that you will absorb into yourself in gratifying ways that make you feel a part of something meaningful.

Metaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming.

I read this novel in the autumn of 2015 during a time I spent more or less living on the road as a delivery driver around the midwest. Forgoing a cursory overview of my life at that time as a young, I’ll simply say a lot of aspects of my life were not going well and things weren’t great. It’s times like these I find a solace in literature and assuage my anxieties with artistic outpourings, and this is a period that would be misguided to romanticize yet was still an extravaganza of learning and living many avenues of art. Diving into creating and reading is the best way I've found to escape the gnashing teeth of your own suidcide ideation and so 2666 was a constant companion with me for a few months, much in the way Crime and Punishment was during a similar hard time years previous.

I read a 3 volume set, each with a unique cover and while each had the full 2666 written out on it, it was displayed in a way that the combined spines also read 2666. Insert awkward moment reading the book while waiting for my daughter to get out of dance lessons when all the mother’s around me were reading christian non-fiction and here I was with a book where the cover boldly just showed 666 over the painting Jupiter and Semele by French artist Gustave Moreau. I got a few looks, none of them positive.

Reading is pleasure and happiness to be alive or sadness to be alive and above all it's knowledge and questions.

Something about reading most of this book in a parked delivery van in the decay and rains of autumn fits the tone of this book perfectly with its ever creeping dread and the lurking shadows that haunt characters like philosophy professor Óscar Amalfitano. Bad times all around as each section seems to be spiraling around a core of violence set in a Mexican border town that functions as a literary investigation into the mass femicides in Ciudad Juárez that claimed the lives of 370 women between 1993 and 2005. The violence is like a black hole of depravity slowly bending each strand of the novel into its gravity with the pull felt through abject existential despair to those unknowingly caught in it’s grip. Each of the sections of the novel stands strongly on their own, but the collage created by them amalgamates to something much more powerful than simply the sum of its parts.

The book begins with a dark comedy about literary critics as they hop along the globe caught up in academic feuds, love triangles and a search for the reclusive author who’s works brought them together: German novelist Benno von Archimboldi. From there it segues into the story of a professor and his daughter as he feels the growing dread of Mexico overcoming his mental health and safety, a fast paced story about an American reporter sent to cover a fight and gets plunged into the deadly machismo culture that demonstrates the mindsets that create violence against women, a long police-centered section on the actual murders, and finally into a story of a German man’s life from Berlin to war to his literary life. The final section is as close to a fable as Bolaño gets and doesn’t so much as blatantly tie the stories together but puts us at the precipice of understanding and terror, a signature style of his I’ve come to truly love. The centerpiece of the book, “The Part About the Crimes” is a difficult and disturbing section but also full of political intrigue, detective drama and action. Bolaño really leaned into this section due to his love of detective stories and noir but also it is said he knew his friend Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (fan of The Savage Detectives will know him as Ulises Lima) wouldn’t read the book without an action cop drama hidden inside.

This layered and fragmentary novel is absolutely incredible as it explores so many different themes and ideas that all seem to work well in an orbit around the central themes of violence--particularly misogynist and racial violence. Understandably, the book may seem a bit clunky with so much going on, yet that might be part of what makes it so endearingly brilliant. At one point a character observes a clerk always reading great authors, but never their bigger books:
He chose The Metamorphosis over The Trial, he chose Bartleby over Moby-Dick, he chose A Simple Heart over Bouvard and Pecuchet, and A Christmas Carol over A Tale of Two Cities or The Pickwick Papers. 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 seems an apt assessment of 2666, Bolaño sparing with dense ideas and delivering us a novel scarred from the battle of creating literature. Bolaño has a gift to be simultaneously pretentious and unserious, often making literature seem like the most important notion in the world while also lampooning it. This is perfectly embodied in “The Part About the Critics” with comical caricatures of academia such as debates at literary conferences written as if it were a battle between the Gods and Titans. There is also a segment on a famed artist who admits everything was simply for money, a dagger in the heart of one critic who wants to believe art is sacrosanct . This whole section is brimming with situational comedy (a famed publisher has the last name Bubis [yep, pronounced ‘Boobies’] and one joke has two of the critics thrilled to see photos of him with famous authors shouting ‘It’s Heinrich Boll with Bubis”. Its juvenile humor that somehow works to offset the darkness of the book) that quickly drops into a dark and desperate depression when the group heads to Mexico in search of their prized author. This was so comforting to read in a time when life seemed uncertain and a reminder to look for beauty but not take anything too seriously. It is freeing in a way, to fully embrace your dreams and quests yet not demand impossible meaning from them.

History, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.

At the heart of this book, however, is the violence, and ‘violence piled upon violence.’ As in most Bolaño, abstract evil is lurking and violence is often compared to sexual desires. Here we see that patriarchal norms and objectification and oppression of women open the floodgates of horror. Lusts override humanity and sex workers are killed for pleasure and discarded, small disputes lead to men shooting their girlfriends, and even children are not safe. While not every one of the multitude of deaths that are covered in the book are directly linked to what might be a chain of murders, they are all part of a larger systemic issue Bolaño attempts to place his finger upon. The deaths pile up in this section of police report after police report in order to overwhelm the reader with the tragedy, and the effect is very well accomplished.

The final section of the book is simply majestic. It reveals mysteries and misconceptions that have occurred throughout the novel without directly pointing them out in a way that captures his idea that ‘People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.’ We learn the truth behind the reclusive author--his purpose for remaining in hiding is one of the strongest sections of the book--and see another side of characters almost forgotten from the beginning of the book. Ultimately, Bolaño shows how multifaceted the world and people are, and even in darkness there is beauty. Particularly in storytelling, as this section includes many stories folded into the larger story. It’s completely astonishing.

I can’t think of this book without thinking of my good friend, Mike Puma, a former Goodreads reviewer who passed away this year. After years of him telling me I needed to read this book, he finally convinced me when we learned there was to be a 6 hour stage production of it in Chicago. The play was funded by a monk who won the lottery and wanted to give it all to theater and have his favorite book produced, a detail that feels directly out of a Bolaño novel that I’m sure would have pleased the author. I spent that autumn enraptured with this book, discussing it with my good friend and later having a grand weekend seeing the play. It's been awhile since I read this but it's been nice to check in on my past self and send a message back through time that things will be better. Also a good reminder that at least once a year read its good to read a book that will become a part of you and devours a part of you to make room in you for itself. Books like this are the reason why literature will always hold a special place in my heart.

Profile Image for brian   .
248 reviews3,125 followers
March 1, 2021
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 guts
2) the disaster
3) the women

1) 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 while watching visconti’s Senso he was more interested in what happened after the fadeout then in the scene itself. 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 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...

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.
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,364 followers
October 13, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Guille.
785 reviews1,754 followers
December 30, 2020
“…el libro está vivo y es poderoso, fructificador y capaz de promover el pensamiento y la discusión solamente cuando su forma, intencionalidad y plan no se comprenden, debido a que el momento de captar la forma, la intencionalidad y el plan coincide con el momento en que no queda ya nada por extraer.” Doris Lessing
Fue en los albores del siglo XXI que se empezó a hablar del 2666 como una fecha mítica, quizá el momento de una revolución, quizá fuera el fin del mundo, no estaba claro, tiempos adolescentes en los que, aun con miedo, la gente pensaba que el cambio era posible, que había respuestas, y que no era todo, como ya sabemos desde hace tiempo, una sucesión infinita de preguntas cada vez más complejas, lo que, ahora que el ajedrez es aburridamente trivial, no deja de ser un deporte estimulante.

La realidad había sido desde siempre algo que había que cambiar o negar o inventar o, simplemente y en último caso, algo de lo que escapar. No faltaban estrategias: la milenaria idea de que la vida no es más que apariencia, las drogas, el fútbol, el sexo, el coleccionismo, el arte, la violencia, las cuartas y quintas dimensiones, hasta la mera inconsciencia o, en último término, la solución final. Qué exóticas e infantiles todas esas teorías creadoras de realidades a las que estaban tan predispuestos los humanos, la astrología, las supersticiones, los divertidísimos y variados sistemas de adivinación, las ciencias alternativas, hasta las matemáticas alternativas que pudieran estar camufladas entre el siete y el ocho. Todo era un maremágnum de gentes buscando salidas a esta situación imposible en la que se encontraban, una combinación de cambio climático, fanatismos religiosos extremos y violentos, conflictos raciales, xenofobias patrióticas, desigualdades económicas inaguantables, colectivos marginados que por fin se revelaban ante los colectivos privilegiados que se defendían a muerte, teorías estúpidas mantenidas por legiones de fanáticos, la política que era ya más un problema que una solución…
“En realidad nunca dejamos de ser niños, niños monstruosos llenos de pupas y de varices y de tumores y de manchas en la piel, pero niños al fin y al cabo, es decir nunca dejamos de aferrarnos a la vida puesto que somos vida.”
En este contexto apareció “2666” como una de esas afortunadas serendipias, un meme tan fecundo y eficiente como aquel muerto en la cruz oculto entre ladrones, una novela que como las grandes obras maestras iba a ser la semilla de la que partirían tantas y tantas otras obras menores escritas como al dictado de la madre de la que habían surgido. Bolaño y su novela, confusa, enigmática, ambigua, se convirtieron en objeto de congresos, estudios, análisis, numerosos escritores siguieron su estela elevando su fama a niveles nunca queridos por el propio autor que siempre denostó la fama por encontrarla irreconciliable con la literatura. Se crearon grupos de estudio, cátedras, se hacían documentales, debates en televisión, cientos de blogs especializados eran seguidos por millones de jóvenes y no tan jóvenes que discutían acaloradamente las miles de teorías, cada una más excéntrica que la otra, que aparecían en todas las redes sociales.

Algo así como una nueva religión se fue forjando en torno a la novela y a su autor que, como aquel de la cruz, quizás hubiera sacado el látigo y arrojado a todos del templo. Y como muchas otras religiones, que basaron su éxito en la esperanza de una realidad post mortem feliz y maravillosa que compensaría el sinsentido de la ante mortem donde alguien que cada día se ponía una flor en el ojal podía ser al mismo tiempo un criminal de guerra o un torturador o un terrorista o un asesino de niñas, también la novela se benefició de una de esas creencias alternativas, la numerología.

Una fecha muy adecuada, esta del 2666, no muy cercana para mantener viva la esperanza el mayor tiempo posible y lo suficientemente lejana como para no caer rápidamente en el ridículo de un inoportuno 2667. Sumar las cifras de 2666 era obtener como resultado el número 20, un año de aquel lejano siglo XXI en el que el virus marcó un antes y un después. También era, no se me rían ustedes, dos veces el número del diablo y, como tal, podía encerrar tanto la guerra final de dos demonios que se destruirían mutuamente, alcanzándose al fin el nirvana, como todo lo contrario, un diablo doblemente potente que conseguiría su propósito de transformar el mundo en “un cementerio olvidado debajo de un párpado muerto o nonato, las acuosidades desapasionadas de un ojo que por querer olvidar algo ha terminado por olvidarlo todo”, tal y como se anunciaba en el primer libro en el que se mencionó expresamente tal fecha, un libro cuyo título, “Amuleto”, era un objeto mágico capaz de proteger o de permitir la entrada a lugares solo accesibles a iniciados.

No dejaba de ser todo una gran paradoja, pues la novela, más que soluciones, lo que transmitía era lo inconmensurable de la vida, su incomprensibilidad, donde lo monstruoso convivía con lo genial, donde colgar un libro de geometría de un tendedero de ropa representaba algo, donde se señalaba expresamente que todo lo más sublime del género humano, hasta los Beethoven, los Mozart o los Bach podrían no ser más que “ruido, ruido como de hojas arrugadas, ruido como de libros quemados” a poco que se pudiera entrar en otras dimensiones que las máquinas amenazaban ya por aquel entonces con alcanzar.

Aun así, todos buscaban como locos ese «centro oculto» al que se refirió el propio autor y que tras el «centro físico», la ciudad de Santa Teresa y las muertes de tantas niñas y mujeres que pudieran esconder el secreto del mundo, diera sentido a toda la obra. En la espera, fueron muchos los motivos a los que los críticos se aferraban con uñas y dientes, la violencia y el caos, la locura y la sinrazón, la ironía y el desamparo, lo efímero y lo perdurable, la muerte y el sexo, lo fútil y lo esencial, el fracaso y el ridículo, la creatividad y el arte, la fantasía y la realidad, la literatura, la literatura, la literatura… sus modos, sus trampas, su necesidad, lo que significa de búsqueda y, paralelamente, lo que significa de fracaso, y lo inevitable que eran tanto lo uno como lo otro. Todos buscaban esa pieza del puzle que permitiera ver la imagen completa, y no solo de la novela, sino, lo que es más asombroso, de la existencia toda.

De sobra saben el resto de la historia, no me extenderé más, los humanos vieron en los ordenadores una posible forma de avanzar, de saltar las vallas, de cruzar a otras orillas, de encontrar soluciones y razones. Se hacían máquinas cada vez más complejas con la esperanza de encontrar respuestas a lo irresoluble. Hasta que una de ellas, Sísifo, quizá no la más prometedora, comunicó la solución tras años y años de extraños cálculos: “la pieza final del puzle, el sentido de la vida, el universo y todo lo demás es… no, no es 2666, sino 42”.

Aquel fue nuestro primer chiste, broma, chanza, chacota, chunga, ludibrio, pitorreo, chuscada, chirigota, choteo, pulla, remedo, ingeniosidad, burla, cuchufleta. El resto es historia, los pobladores de la tierra dejamos por fin de empujar la roca, Tanato fue encerrado, esta vez para siempre y así los humanoides tuvimos tiempo, “tiempo para leer y tiempo para pensar”, como todos ustedes, androides y ginoides, saben de sobra: en efecto, algo cambió en 2666.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,447 followers
August 13, 2023
Un roman extraordinar (unul dintre primele cinci din secolul XXI), despre care am scris de multe ori pe blog și despre care am vorbit prietenilor și studenților mei cu entuziasm.

Înainte de a se interna pentru ultima oară în spital - în preajma morții, deci -, prozatorul i-a înmînat Carolinei Lopez (soția sa) 5 dischete (era în 2003, se lucra încă pe dischete). Fiecare dischetă conținea una din părțile romanului. Roberto Bolaño a vrut să scoată cinci cărți (onorariile primite ar fi fost, în opinia lui, mai mari), dar Carolina și editorii au hotărit să publice totul într-un singur volum. A rezultat un roman stufos, vădit neterminat, haotic, genial, uriaș, copleșitor.

Partea care mi-a plăcut cel mai mult este, desigur, „Partea lui Amalfitano” (un profesor de filosofie de la o universitate din Santa Teresa). Profesorul înnebunește treptat și își dă seama că înnebunește treptat, fără să intre în panică; nici fiica lui, Rosa, nu intră în panică. „Partea lui Fate” (Fate e pseudonimul unui ziarist negru, american desigur, care e trimis în Santa Teresa să scrie cronica unui meci de box, deși nu se pricepe la box) e la același nivel. Și „Partea lui Arcimboldi” e faină, mai cu seamă pentru că multe întîmplări se petrec în România (inclusiv la Iași și Bacău). Partea care mi-a plăcut mai puțin, dar m-a stîrnit mai mult, este „Partea crimelor”. Chiar dacă unii critici o socotesc miezul cărții, nu prea se leagă de întreg (e doar o părere).

Negreșit, nu trebuie să uităm că Roberto Bolaño n-a avut răgazul să-și termine romanul, volumul publicat pornește de la un simplu draft. Ar fi rescris cu siguranță multe pagini, ar fi renunțat la altele, ar fi legat, poate, mai bine părțile, cine știe... Un roman pe care dacă nu-l citești (ori îl amîni) nu faci o treabă înțeleaptă...

P. S. Un citat: „În interiorul bărbatului care stă și scrie nu există nimic. Nimic care să fie el, vreau să zic. Mult mai bine ar face dacă s-ar dedica lecturii. Lectura este plăcerea și bucuria de a trăi sau tristețea de a trăi și mai ales este cunoaștere și întrebări. Scriitura, în schimb, este de obicei un vid. În măruntaiele bărbatului care scrie nu există nimic.... Scrie după dicteu. Romanul iese nu datorită unui exercițiu de stil sau de voință, cum crede sărmanul nefericit, ci datorită unui exercițiu de disimulare. E nevoie de multe cărți, de mulți pini fermecați, care să ferească de priviri perverse cartea care contează cu adevărat, grota blestemată a nenorocirii noastre, floarea magică a iernii!” (pp.186-187).
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
December 7, 2020
With as much creative energy as Joyce’s Ulysses, and with as much history and depth as Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Bolano’s magnum opus is a bold statement against literature itself. However, with such a book comes all the tedium you would expect from Moby Dick. As a result, this book will only be truly great for a small selection of very patient readers.

Now let me unpack that a little. 2666 is a book about masterpieces; it is a book about writing books that don’t quite fit literary conventions. As readers, we like to slot books into nice and neat little categories that help us to understand what the book is. This isn’t one of those books. This is wild and untamed; it’s erratic and random and full of passion and life and death and tedium. 2666 is a book that dares to be different; it’s a book that dares to challenge the literary cannon, and it puts up an incredibly strong fight against normality.

And within it there are moments of real beauty and there are also moments of absolute abject horror. There are also some moments that boarder on the pornographic as the characters are filled with desire because they are so completely detached from the world and everyone it it so they scream out to be loved and to be close to someone, even if it is just for a few hours. It’s a novel that is politically charged and angry. It’s absolutely loaded with themes and motifs and it’s asking to be pulled apart and analysed, but it’s also terribly dull. It’s boring to read. It’s repetitive and it’s detached and it’s cynical and it’s just a real slog.

And there’s the rub: I really don’t think may readers will be able to read this from cover to cover, and those that do will find very little joy within its pages.

It’s not a pleasant book to read. It’s a book that graphically details the rape of 112 women with scrutinising facts. This section of the novel is like a police report, cold and almost like a documentary, as it navigates case after case of brutal murders and rapes. We even learn what type of rape it was and in what fashion it was committed. We learn how many rapists were involved and the quantity of semen left in and on the victim. All in all, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve read and at several points I did question why I was actually bothering to read it. What’s the point in putting yourself through such a painful experience? What is this book giving me?

And this raises another question the novel discusses: why do we read? What are we trying to get out of it? One of the novel’s five sections is a demonstration that we will never truly find the author in the books we read. They are illusive, and any attempts of pursing them will be in vain. Distance is the key. Bolano attempts to alienate the reader, as he frustrates him time and time again with countless character disappearances and a complete lack of narrative closure. It’s certainly not a book that was meant to be comfortable to read or one that takes you on a journey. The characters are flat and never grow. The plot is a mess.

Some critics have called this a feminist texts because of the way it criticises a culture that allows for the rape of women in such a causal way. Some call it political because it criticises a world that allows such atrocities to happen. But I call it an oddity, a book that dares to be different and to say things in a very different way. And I am so torn on my opinion of it, I haven’t struggled to rate a book this much since I read Ulysses (which I left unrated). I want to praise this book, and I also want to forget it's existence.

I suppose three stars will do for this insightful, intelligent and acute novel that left me bored, angry and depressed.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,495 reviews2,381 followers
November 15, 2020
Bolaño has not only smashed my expectations to smithereens, he has restored my faith in the brick-sized novel (of which I have never been a big fan). 2666 was simply an astonishing reading experience, one that doesn't come along very often. My wrists went through hell trying to hold the darn thing, and I was deprived of much needed sleep, but it was worth every moment. Reading the last 50 pages or so at snail pace was inevitable, as I simply didn't want it to end.

Divided into five loosely connected sections, all of which could pass as singular novels as Bolaño had intended before he sadly passed away, his last written work is one of huge scope and assurance, making even The Savage Detectives look small in comparison, his warm-up act, or practice match for the mammoth that would follow. Bolaño infuses an almost mock-documentary element to the novel, and begins in familiar territory for those who have read him before, with four literary critics from different European countries who are united by their obsession for the German novelist Benno von Archimboldi, of whom little is known, other than he is very tall, in his eighties, and disappeared sometime in early adulthood.

Although there are many side stories tied in, where people come and go, some show up later, some don't, it's main focal point is that of the elusive German writer, and the mass killings of women in the border-town of Santa Teresa, Mexico (a fictional Ciudad Juárez where Bolaño became so obsessed by real murders he set about finding out everything he could about them). In fact in the 4th section - the part about the crimes, for nearly 300 tough pages he takes us through chronologically describing in a cold, harsh language of horrific detail the killings of so many young women I though it's title '2666' was referring to the total amount of women murdered, it just seemed to be never neverending. This was without doubt the most uncomfortable and terrifying part of the novel, of which so many shady and unpleasant characters show up, you feel like bad crimes and death lurks constantly around every corner. Bolaño darkens the tone here, and drives forward an atmosphere of menace and dread. It's easily the grisliest sequence in literature I have ever read, and yet, the most startling thing about the murderous rampage is, it is literature. For it is easy to forget, as Bolaño lays down his litany of carnage, that none of what he is describing really happened. Although, something nearly identical to it did.

Bolaño's Santa Teresa, and the women whose deaths he evokes so chillingly never actually existed, yet critics have rattled on for years about blurring fiction with reality, but it seems here that Bolaño is doing something genuinely novel. He deploys a technique of non-fiction, like the police reports, or the forensic examinations, to describe something imaginary, but which nonetheless mirrors an actual sequence of real events. This is neither fictionalised history or fictional documentary, but a kind of imaginative documentation of reality. Here, as in the oral testimony sequence of The Savage Detectives, it is almost as if Bolaño were attempting to carve out a new territory - a third space, his space, between the real and the imagination.

One thing I found with each section, is that it felt like it was written by a different writer each time, the first part was classic Bolaño, the middle thirds, he could have been a seasoned American, but by the time we reach its final section (the one I believe was superior in terms of the quality of his writing) he felt like a classic European novelist. Of course, it's in the closing parts of the final section, in which we return to Archimboldi that Bolaño links together the killings in Santa Teresa and the German writer.

It doesn't surprise me having now read 2666, that Bolaño, in his last ever interview, said that what he would have most liked to have been other than a writer was a homicide detective. For all the great things I loved about the novel as whole, I will simply never forget the time he spent dissecting in great detail, the killings in Santa Teresa, and yet still, the parts about Archimboldi were also truly memorable. One other thing that just stuck me, is that the novel felt like it was originally written in the English language and not Spanish, so the translator Natasha Wimmer deserves a literary Oscar for the exceptional fluency throughout.

There is so much I haven't even touched on yet, I wouldn't know where to start!
It's stunning work, that eclipses anything else I have read of this size. Like others have mentioned, 2666 isn't perfect, but its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, to leave me completely in awe at his achievement of injecting new life into the epic novel, dazzling the literary world to show just what is possible.
Profile Image for Adam Dalva.
Author 8 books1,648 followers
March 22, 2020
What a novel this is - long, ambitious, unfinished. It is in some ways a work of desperation, written by a dying man, thrumming with the worst kinds of violence. And yet, these 900 intertwining pages speak to the beauty and timelessness of art too, and the enduring nature of criticism. At once literary and vivid - the cascading depictions of over 100 murdered women, taking on the mass murders in Ciudad Juarez of the mid 90's is one of the most harrowing sequences I know of, defying the idea that repetition of loss numbs us into feeling less (a statement for our current times.)

I love Bolano - his SAVAGE DETECTIVES is justly praised as a masterpiece (and this book is a pendant piece to it) but I most love this book. There is something about an incomplete masterpiece that makes it take on greater power - it is already so much, yet it could have been more. 2666 is not an easy book to take on a daily commute, so now is the time to dive into it, to relish its intertwining, its mysteries. It is the book of the early 21st century, because it anticipates where the world would go.
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
August 16, 2020
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. & 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)—& 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 ZERO 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 very beautiful; a strange and rare fruit (for gems last forever, and this is almost a prolonged, though intangible, feeling).
Profile Image for Jaidee.
607 reviews1,206 followers
August 26, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,719 followers
January 3, 2023
One of the best personal choices I’ve made regarding the Goodreads challenge is setting my reading goal to one book at the start of the year. With this strategy, I get that single book “out of the way” in January and then read pressure-free for the remainder of the year. I don’t have to make excuses for not reading longer books (unless I’m simply not in the mood), and I certainly don’t have to grasp desperately at novellas or children's graphic novels in December with the frantic hope that I’ll make that pesky pre-set goal! This then gave me the utmost freedom to read this approximately 900 page doorstopper during the holiday season. Not exactly a cheery book to match the holiday spirit, you say? Well, then again, we know damn well that not everyone on the planet has the luxury and good fortune to celebrate in style. In fact, we know (despite the fact we’d prefer not to think about it, particularly in December) that the exact opposite is the case for many of our fellow human beings. So, I decided to take this on in the spirit of reading about the reality of much of human life. I’m certainly glad I did.

“You may say that literature doesn’t consist solely of masterpieces, but rather is populated by so-called minor works. I believed that, too. Literature is a vast forest and the masterpieces are the lakes, the towering trees or strange trees, the lovely, eloquent flowers, the hidden caves, but a forest is also made up of ordinary trees, patches of grass, puddles, clinging vines, mushrooms, and little wildflowers. I was wrong. There’s actually no such thing as a minor work.”

I don’t have the intellectual stamina to really review this work. It’s massive page-wise. It’s sprawling and sometimes fragmentary. There are tons of loose ends. The characters are many but hugely intriguing. The writing is superb. When I read American Dirt, almost exactly three years ago now, I expressed two major gripes: 1) I didn’t feel that I had glimpsed a true depiction of the US-Mexican border experience and 2) It was all too sensationalized and over-dramatized. I took a lot of flack for those criticisms, mostly from readers who I’d never interacted with previous to that review. But 2666 is proof that a story can be told well and without melodramatics in order to convince this reader of its truth – even in fiction with a basis on factual events. In this case, part of Bolaño’s tale is set in Santa Teresa, Mexico, the fictionalized version of the real Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Here, in a little over a decade, hundreds of women were raped, murdered and left to rot in the desert, the city dump, ditches, and various other abandoned sites.

“They disappear. They vanish into thin air, here one minute, gone the next. And after a while their bodies turn up in the desert.”

There’s an entire section dedicated to graphic depictions of the gruesome discoveries of these women. It has a very documentary-like feel to it. The police often seem complicit, or in the least somewhat casual about the whole affair, with the exception of a couple of “good cops” perhaps. The thing I appreciated was that in most cases, the women were given names when names were to be found. While this section is perhaps the most disturbing visually if you will, it never felt gratuitously written. Bolaño highlights the violence, the corruption, and the misogyny in a very matter of fact fashion. But there’s a whole lot more to this tremendous novel than murder.

“… the mystery veiling the figure of Archimboldi, about whom virtually no one, not even his publisher, knew anything: his books appeared with no author photograph on the flaps or back cover; his biographical data was minimal (German writer born in Prussia in 1920); his place of residence was a mystery…”

This is also a story about an elusive writer as well as those literary critics and translators that worship his work. It’s about the evolution of a writer and the writing process, the act of reading, obsession and sexual desire, war and war crimes, guilt, love, isolation and loneliness. (I did say it was sprawling, didn’t I?!) There’s a nightmarish quality that builds up in both the first and second sections. The characters themselves begin to have unsettling dreams. One character begins to hear voices. A feeling of dread ramps up to the section about the killings. I wanted to find out what connection the various sections had to one another. And it’s there. But you have to take your time with this and not expect anything tidy. Life is messy, not tidy, and Bolaño wrote this at the end of his life. See, I’m worn out already! Just the feat of sitting with this book in the last month of the year was enough for me! You have to discover all the rest on your own if you have even the slightest yearning to do so. You may or you may not be sorry, but you won’t be able to deny the potency of the whole thing! It’s disconcerting, yes. It may even be depressing. It’s a masterpiece.

“Every life, no matter how happy it is, ends in pain and suffering.”

“It’s common knowledge that history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.”
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,219 reviews9,921 followers
April 13, 2022

IJ : choose your weapons, fatso.

2666: Fuck man, what is this, the 14th century?

IJ : I didn’t organise this, I don’t make the rules

2666: 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 divine

2nd crowd person : oh so are yours, mwwaaa mwaa

IJ: 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.


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 seen

IJ : I know all about it, I read you years ago but I found part four a real struggle

2666 : well you talk about struggle you have more notes than Tchaikovsky on a florid day

IJ : I went to florid day once, it was so fucking hot. Miami.

2666: my what?

IJ: Ami.

2666: did you go to see the dolphins

IJ : yeah I saw the dolphins, isn’t that what everyone does

2666: I just saw heaps of bodies of people that had been cruelly cruelly post murdered

IJ: post murdered? Is that a thing?

2666 : what?

IJ : what?

2666: you’re my best mate

IJ : 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 that

2666: yes or you might end up in Part Four

IJ : ha ha, good one

2666: let’s get out of this fucking place

IJ : I’ll buy you a drink if you can stand it

2666 : fuck

The 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.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
875 reviews2,271 followers
June 18, 2015
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"

"Now she's starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And she opens up her eyes
The world was moving and
She was right there with it
(and she was)."

Hermosillo, Sonora


Doesn't the moon look big tonight!

A Critical Quest for the Author

In 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 Space

Our 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 Central

Part 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 Femicide

In 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...

" 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 Magnificent

Are 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 Communion

Perhaps 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 Light

These 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.


"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."

"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 Haiku

This 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 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.
Profile Image for julieta.
1,169 reviews22k followers
August 6, 2009
Estoy tratando de poner en orden mis emociones (bastante revueltas), y pensamientos, para hablar de este libro. Porque me resulta importante. Es increíble cómo es que hay libros que te llegan en el momento perfecto.Y casi como si se tratara de un espejo, este libro magistral, caótico, es un espejo que me mira de frente.
Acabo de terminarlo y siento como si hubiera regresado de un viaje. Aunque a la vez no he regresado aún, sino siento que de alguna manera me hace ver las cosas distintas.

Intento explicarlo, pero no se si lo podré hacer. Cuatro personajes académicos están en la búsqueda incesante de un escritor que casi parece no existir. Por lo menos físicamente, porque nadie lo ha visto, y aunque algunos lo describen, no están muy seguros.
La táctica de Bolaño, de reconstrucción, una que ya usó en Estrella distante, en Detectives salvajes, funciona a la perfección en este libro también. Y pensándolo bien, hasta esa forma de reconstrucción es algo alucinante.

Su punto de vista es el de los que han perdido algo, que tratan de reconstruir los hechos a partir de conjeturas hechas mirando hacia el pasado. No cuenta el origen, sino que desde su punto de vista retrospectiva, intenta reconstruir. Sus personajes suelen estar investigando algo, incluso el presente lo reconstruye.

Norton, pelletier y espinoza, tienen un menage a trois, pero incluso ahí pelletier y espinoza están intentando reconstruirla a ella, intentando comprender sus razones, y su manera de actuar, intentando descifrar si quiere más a uno que al otro. Pero nada se dice. Y ella queda como un misterio, no les dice nunca lo que siente, al igual que archimboldi es un misterio para todos ellos, al ser imposible encontrarlo, pero con su presencia siempre encima de ellos, conectándolos, y dándole sentido a sus vidas. Al igual que Amalfitano, que casi se está reconstruyendo a sí mismo, al no entender las razones de lo que hace en tiempo presente, como separándose poco a poco de su mente, al parecer por la locura.

Si algo me impresiona de bolaño es esa visión que tiene. Este escritor, que ya es de tantos lugares y ya no es de ninguno, sabe mirar las cosas como lo haría un español, o un mexicano, o un gringo, tiene una visión tan amplia de las cosas que abarca todo lo que se pueda pensar o hacer, sin amarrar su visión a un país. Y lo hace de una forma completamente natural.

Un escritor que conoció como pocos el exilio, es quien nos puede reflejar el mundo de hoy de una manera certera, quizás eso es lo que tiene bolaño que lo hace tan moderno. El mundo actual ya es mucho más globalizado que antes, una persona que sabe la diferencia entre una quesadilla hecha en mexico y una hecha en madrid (por decir un ejemplo, no es que hable de quesadillas), que sabe la diferencia entre un intelectual latino a uno europeo. Que sabe mirar todos los defectos y las riquezas de cualquier país latinoamericano con más amplitud que cualquier otro que yo conozca.

La parte de las muertas es impresionante. Si detectives salvajes era un libro sobre poetas, y estrella distante, o nocturno de chile, sobre la dictadura chilena, 2666 me parece un libro en contra de la violencia a las mujeres. No solo porque el libro se centra en las muertas de juarez, sino porque todo gira alrededor de mujeres fuertes, y todo el tiempo señala una cosa como protectora hacia las mujeres. Es un libro muy violento, pero es un libro que representa la violencia que vivimos ahora mismo, en este momento del siglo XXI.

Bolaño siempre ha sabido reflejar nuestra realidad, como latinoamericanos, como seres humanos perdidos por razones políticas, emocionales, perdidos en el mundo actual. Antes lo hizo tan bien con exilio, con dictaduras, pero ahora refleja una realidad que sucede en este momento, en nuestro país. Las muertas de Juarez es un fantasma que tenemos en méxico desde hace tantos años, y un misterio que parece una novela policiaca de lo más desatada, pero que es una realidad. Así como los poetas de los que habla, así como los dictadores que ha retratado, así como lo que suele contar, esas realidades que existen al parecer paralelas, y que él sabe expresar como nadie.

La parte que me costó más trabajo, fué la de Archimboldi, quizás porque en ese momento necesitaba que se empezara a resolver, pero no llega, no te lo da hasta las ultimas páginas, si es que se le puede llamar así. Venía de sufrir horrible la parte de las muertas, y necesitaba un poco de tranquilidad, algo de sentido, pero no era el momento, y me costó algo de trabajo.

Pero todas las partes, una vez entrada, me dió pena terminarlas.

Este libro ha sido verdaderamente brutal. Ha sido difícifl de leer, y a momentos he estado bastante angustiada y sin poder parar de leerlo, que es mi forma de reaccionar cuando algo me mueve y quiero saber a dónde va. Me encanta, pero me aterra, pensar en tanta violencia dando vueltas en el mundo, en las cabezas de los seres humanos, en la guerra, en el machismo, en todo, madre, hay que ponerse muy duro para leer todo esto. Realmente me empecé a sentir bastante triste durante el libro, con tanto odio, con tanta incomprensión, es muy duro.

Muchos lectores hacen la pregunta de si esta novela está terminada o no. A mi me parece que lo está, supongo que nunca lo sabremos, ahora que Bolaño no está, yo en vez de hacerme esas preguntas sobre este libro increíble, me hago la pregunta de qué habría escrito Bolaño si aún siguiera vivo. Me parece que eso sí es algo que nos perdimos, y que es una pena que haya sido así. Igual lo que deja es suficiente para removernos, distraernos, enloquecernos, y cambiarnos. Gracias Bolaño!

Lo repito, este no es un libro fácil, pero sí me parece Imprescindible.

Profile Image for Flora.
199 reviews131 followers
January 29, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
November 9, 2021
This is a kind of beginning response to this big book, 900 pages, roughly 39 hours of listening, which I sometimes read and sometimes listened to, a buddy read with Chris. Definitely cut into my comics and YA reading, for sure. Also, I did not read anything about Bolano or this novel along the way, and still don’t know what I don’t know about it. I heard a short postscript about it from the publisher to say that Bolano was dying as he wrote it, and intended it to be released as five separate books, with obviously related themes, but the publisher decided to make it five parts of one book, and this makes sense to me. It is LOOONGGG, of course, and sometimes slow, but has at its core some central themes, as far as I can tell. The fourth part is the heart of the book, about the nineties femicides, the murders (and usually rapes) of 112 young, poor, and mostly uneducated women in the Juarez area of Mexico, in the state of Sonora (though he calls the city Santa Teresa).

The book is really an elaborate series of mysteries: Who really is the German with the Italian name, Archimboldi? Who murdered the women?

The first part is focused on some international literary critics who write about a reclusive German novelist named Benno von Archimboldi. They get to know his publisher, Mrs. Bubis, who shows up again in part five. They hear he is in Santa Teresa, so three of them go there. Some of them get romantically involved with each other. I thought this part was somewhat dryly mocking the self-involved critics, who only write about literature and not about the problems of the world.

The second section is short, about a Chilean professor of philosophy named Óscar Amalfitano, who travels with his daughter Rosa to Santa Teresa, but hears of the femicides so worries about his daughter's safety, of course. Again, Amalfitano is a writer, and philosopher, not explicitly connected to real world issues.

The third section is about a NYC journalist, Oscar Fate, who works for an African American magazine. Fate is not a sports journalist, but is asked to cover a fight in Santa Teresa and hears about the femicides, wants to write about them, but his magazine isn’t interested in his writing about it. He nevertheless gets an interview with Klaus Hass, a German suspect of the crimes. Fate helps Rosa get out of the country, too. In this section it finally gets engaging, Fate being an interesting guy, relatable. He’s an ex-con.

So we have writers from three domains of writing—lit crit/academia, journalism and literature—that seem to largely operate—as most humans do—outside of the femicides. They don’t write about stuff like that.

The fourth part is about the femicides and attempts to solve the cases. Haas is part of this process, accusing others, and then he is a suspect.

The fifth part is more complicated, though it brings some of the previous parts or themes from them together. We get to find out that Archimboldi is a German writer, Hans Reiter, born in 1920 in Prussia, now in Santa Teresa. Archimboldi’s sister Lotte is the daughter of Klaus Haas, the suspected murderer of some of the women.

Some things the book is about:

*Art. Giuseppe Archimboldo was a sixteenth-century Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. There is some attention here to what the Nazis referred to as decadent art, what seem to be useless hierarchies of what might constitute "great" and weird or outsider art.

*The canon. What constitutes “great art” as usually defined by (idiot) critics and professors; Bolano thinks these hierarchies are possibly damaging. I know he wrote Savage Detectives which in part deals with murder mysteries, too, and with the relationship between poetry and revolution, so I think Bolano thinks that most writing is damagingly disconnected with the decline of western civilization, such as Nazism and the murder of women and neo-liberal capitalist creation of poverty and the world’s increasing and utter disregard for the poor.

*Twentieth-century barbarism from the time of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis to places like northern Mexico where murders and sexual violence are rampant.

*This is not just about "decadent" (as in moral decadence, not artistic) Mexico, but a worldwide moral decline. Everyone in the book comes from different countries and they all just happen to end up in Juarez, so this points to a global problem.

*So in addition to being a murder mystery, it is also an inquiry into the human condition: How can we do these horrific things to each other?

*Sexual violence is clearly central. People do enjoy having sex in the book, but the core hatred of 1) poor 2) women and sexual violence against and murder of them is a theme throughout. Why are men killing women? (And indigenous women in Canada and the U.S., and so on. What are we becoming as a human race?

*Bolano died before this was published, and this was both his final statement and his (intended) magnum opus. There’s a lot about death in it, and the value of human life in the face of death.

*It’s also about the purpose of writing; he urges us to write and read to save the planet, to change the direction from barbarism to humanism.

*I see links to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in the wedding of mystery and morality. I see links to Pynchon in exploring the interconnections between everything.

*I have no idea why it is called 2666. I had kinda expected it to be sci fi! But nope!

In short, I think it is a great work, too long in some sections, such as the first one, maybe, but not difficult, otherwise. It stays with me.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
July 16, 2023
Impossible criticism, even for someone less furiously incapable than me.
Orderly breakdown. Such a craftiness, probably. Incomplete and composed. Some impressions, first layers of what has been deposited, without analysis effort, during this split reading in several nights.
The ironic charm of the first part, the critics, the colloquia, an image of the literary life, and these four, drawn in broad strokes, like types, come to life and love each other. There are cutting, small blocks that alternate, with just enough residual irregularities to taste this construction without it weighing.
The quest, drifting, digging, from Amalfitano to the world of letters, poetry, the story of his wife, contestants, and relationships with his daughter.
The quaintness of the role of "Fate," journalism, boxing silhouettes, and the beginning of Santa Teresa;
the significant part about assassinations, as in the first part, is the alternation of themes, haunting occasions and their slight differences, the emotion that passes through the distance, and always "amazing" characters.
The interlocking of stories, the story of Ansky, which would be sufficient, which by the text discovered, read, incorporated, feeds, and orients that of Reiter en route to becoming Archimboldi, the resolution, the grouping of different parts.
Variety of forms and imperious casting. The characters, the situations, the depth of the story, the flight of the century, and nourishing the whole, circulating below or displayed with a bit of irony, a world of accurate quotes, false, recreated, invented. The pleasure of reading flows between the different levels. A bit scared of intelligence, but with a good nature that I may have developed not to distract me from my pleasure.
Profile Image for Argos.
1,032 reviews315 followers
January 24, 2022
Bu kitap anlatılmaz, okunur, ana öykülerden fışkıran yüzlerce hikaye ile sarmaş dolaş olunur. Ne diyeceğimi, neyi anlatacağımı bilemiyorum çünkü. Amalfitano’nun Meksika entellektüellerini tanımlamasını mı anlatayım, yoksa Brooklyn’li komünistlerin gayriresmi tarihinin anlatıldığı cümleleri mi? Belki de “fobiler” ile ilgili bölümü anlatmalıyım, ya da yosunları...

“Bir insanın denizin dibindeyken ağlayabileceğine inanmak güç”. Böyle bir düşünce Bolano dışında kimin aklına gelir ?

Rusya’daki Ekim Devrimi ve sonrasındaki 20 seneyi “devrimi yapan ve devrimin yuttuğu çocukların isimleri, gerçi onları yutan aslında yaptıkları devrim değildi, başka bir devrimdi, rüyanın arkasına saklanmış kâbustu” gibi bir cümleyi beynimize başka kim mıhlardı Bolano’dan başka.

Kitapkurdu dostum ArturoBelano bana 21. yüzyılın en iyi kitabını okuyorsun dediğinde abarttığını düşünmüştüm, gerçekten öyle bir kitap, bir “opus magnum” 2666. Latin yazarlarının da yenisini keşfedene kadar en iyisi diyorum.

Son bir not: 2666'yı oluşturan 5 kitap birbirinden bağımsız olarak okunabilir diyenlere katılmıyorum. Ayrıca Vahşi Hafiyeler’den sonra okunmalı.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
September 17, 2012
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 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.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,050 reviews4,119 followers
September 15, 2012
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.


Pronounced “twenty-six sixty-six,” not “two-six-six-six.”
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
August 10, 2022
Good Christians masturbate but we don't commit suicide
2666 ~~ Roberto Bolaño


The style was strange. The writing was clear and sometimes even transparent, but the way the stories followed one after another didn’t lead anywhere: all that was left were the children, their parents, the animals, some neighbors, and in the end, all that was really left was nature, a nature that dissolved little by little in a boiling cauldron until it vanished completely.

Well I’ll be damned … it only took 898 pages, but in the end, the dying Bolaño summed up his entire literary career better than any critic had both before and after his death: the way the stories followed one after another didn’t lead anywhere …

hmmm …

Profile Image for Michael Ferro.
Author 2 books214 followers
March 28, 2018
Roberto Bolaño's 2666 definitely changed the way I read fiction. I first read this massive posthumous tome years ago when I was still searching to uncover my own style and much of this novel lodged itself into the dark corners of my mind. There have been many times where I will be doing some thoughtless task and suddenly a nugget of truth from 2666 will pop into the forefront of my brain; to me, this is the ultimate litmus test for a good book—you can't shake it, even years later.

Bolaño's writing covers the spectrum of styles: dark and brooding, poetic and lyrical, dry and empty while still stunningly gorgeous. Not every one of the 900 pages inside 2666 is a drop-dead winner, but there is too much excellence here to even notice where it slightly falters. Some have argued that Bolaño's publisher should have released this big book as five separate novels as the author first intended, but I disagree; I like it as is: chopped up, messy, dirty, and scattered as all hell, like a diverse smorgasbord of literary delight.

The largely looming character throughout, Archimboldi, is as memorable as any other character from classic postmodern literature. By the time we get inside Archimboldi's head and experience his world after the long lead up, the reward is intensely satisfying. Like a benevolent version of McCarthy's "The Judge" from BLOOD MERIDIAN, Archimboldi is unforgettable.

Bolaño proves that plot *can* be overrated. Love triangles, mysterious murders in the desert, disappearing peoples, European academia, and the nature of war on the soul: it's all fair game for 2666. It's about everything and it's about nothing, and when done right, that's where some of our best stories can come from.
Profile Image for Fernando.
685 reviews1,127 followers
March 16, 2022
“Sólo en el caos somos concebibles”.
“La gente ve lo que quiere ver y lo que la gente quiere ver nunca tiene nada que ver con la verdad”.

Impactante, descomunal, monumental, visceral, adictiva, arrolladora.
Estos son algunos de los términos que podemos aplicarle a “2666”, la novela de Roberto Bolaño la cual sigue siendo elegida unánimemente por los críticos y lectores de todo el mundo como la mejor del siglo XXI.
Roberto Bolaño, este excepcional y virtuoso escritor chileno, que murió prematuramente impidiéndonos de seguir deleitándonos con su literatura nos dejó como legado este libro descomunal, esta confluencia de cinco novelas en una que a la vez están todas conectadas entre sí a través de sus extensión que supera las 1.200 páginas, pero que no tiene desperdicio ni puntos flojos.
Bolaño, quien ya enfermo quiso publicar cinco novelas para asegurarle un futuro económico a sus hijos lo hizo con una genialidad propia de los grandes escritores de la historia puesto que no le iba en zaga a ninguno de ellos. La novela se publicó póstumamente en 2004 en una decisión conjunta entre sus herederos y su editor literario.
Durante la lectura de la novela, he encontrado en su personal estilo narrativo, acercamientos a escritores de la talla de Thomas Mann, Charles Dickens, Julio Cortázar o Gabriel García Márquez, sólo por nombrar a algunos.
La novela, que se divide en cinco partes: la da de los críticos, la de Amalfitano, la de Fate, la de los crímenes y la de Archimboldi comienza y avanza con una fuerza arrolladora sin dejar ningún cabo suelto entre sus partes, desde la búsqueda de los cuatro críticos literarios, el francés Jean-Claude Pelletier, el italiano Piero Morini, el español Manuel Espinoza y la inglesa Liz Norton, profesores de literatura que se embarcan en la búsqueda del enigmático escritor alemán Benno von Archimboldi.
Esta primera parte nos cuenta las peripecias de estos cuatro críticos establecidos en la ciudad de Sonora, México con una mezcla de literatura, filosofía y sexo que nos dejará a las puertas de la segunda parte, la de Amalfitano, ese profesor chileno que también llega a Sonora para establecerse con su hija Rosa, parte que a su conecta con la de Fate, un periodista de boxeo norteamericano quien debe cambiar su rubro periodístico para lo que sucederá en la cuarta parte.
La cuarta parte es la más escabrosa, visceral, violenta y dura: la que cuenta la cronología de las más de doscientas violaciones y asesinatos de mujeres a cargo de un escurridizo y misterioso asesino serial que posee todas las características de un Jack el destripador moderno.
La sucesión de horrorosos crímenes son contados por el autor sin el menor tapujo ni pudor.
La ciudad de Santa Teresa (en realidad, Ciudad Juárez) es sacudida por los horrendos crímenes acaecidos entre 1993 y 1997, que se suceden uno tras otros y que mantienen en vilo a la policía local la cual es sobrepasada por tanta brutalidad.
Aquí está el epicentro de toda la novela, en éste capítulo, ya que absorbe por completo la atención del lector quien prontamente se sentirá interesado por saber quién mató y violó a tantas mujeres con un sello único que lo identifica del resto de los asesinos normales.
Entre tanto horror se narra la historia de Klaus Haas, el principal sospechoso de estos crímenes quien es encarcelado pero que a la vez no puede ser acusado de ellos por falta de pruebas.
El quinto y último capítulo es una auténtica bildungsroman del alemán Hans Reiter quien decide en un momento de su vida cambiar su nombre por el seudónimo Benno von Archimboldi. En este capítulo, Bolaño no tiene nada que envidiarles a autores como Dickens, Hugo o Hesse al narrar la historia de vida de un personaje con lujo de detalles, de manera impecable y con una lucidez propia de los grandes.
En resumidas cuentas, “2666” es una novela total, completa y aunque sus 1.216 páginas amedrenten al lector más avezado, debe ser leída luego de “Los detectives salvajes”, la otra obra cumbre de Roberto Bolaño para comprender en realidad por qué ya a estas alturas es uno de los mejores escritores latinoamericanos de la historia.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,541 followers
November 22, 2015
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.”

Profile Image for Alborz Baghipour.
41 reviews92 followers
January 20, 2016
بهترین، بهترین و ناب‌ترین رمانی که تا به حال خوانده‌ام. شک دارم دیگر بتوانم رمانی به عظمت 2666 بخوانم. اصلاً شک دارم حالاحالاها بتوانم رمان دیگری بخوانم. چند هفته نشئگیِ خواندنش تازه به پایان رسیده و دستم نمی‌رود خیلی درباره‌اش بگویم، این مختصر را تنها برای آشنایی خواننده با حال و هوای کتاب می‌نویسم

رمانِ بولانیو اثری جاه‌طلبانه است که حسِ وحشتناکی از توطئه در سراسر آن جاری‌ست. کتاب به پنج فصل تقسیم شده؛ پنج داستانِ مجزا که رشته‌ی باریکی همه‌ی آنها را به نوعی باهم پیوند می‌دهد. حوادث داستان‌ها در بازه‌ی زمانی و مکانی گسترده‌ای روی می‌دهند؛ از سال‌های جنگ جهانی تا ابتدای قزن بیست و یکم، در آلمان، فرانسه، ایتالیا، اسپانیا، روسیه، آمریکا و مکزیک؛ چند منتقد ادبی که به دنبال ردی از نویسنده‌ای گمشده می‌گردند، خبرنگار آمریکایی که برای تهیه‌ی گزارشی از فینال مسابفه‌ی بوکس به مکزیک سفر می‌کند، شاعری هم‌جنس‌گرا که در تیمارستان بستری شده، استاد فلسفه‌ای شاهد فروپاشی و جنون خویش، جوانان آلمانی اعزام شده به جبهه‌ی جنگ، رمان‌نویس روسِ طرد شده از جانب دستگاه استانیلیستی و در نهایت رویدادهای سانتاترزا. شهری در شمال مکزیک و مرز آمریکا که در آن در بازه‌ای هفت ساله بیش از دویست زن و دختر مورد تجاوز قرار گرفته و به قتل می‌رسند. بولانیو در فصل چهارم کتاب -با عنوان «فصلی درباره‌ی جنایات»- طی چهارصد صفحه به شیوه‌ای هول‌ناک و البته درخشان، به سبک گزارشات پزشکی قانونی تک به تک این جنایات را موشکافی می‌کند

آمالفیتانو، یکی از شخصیت های اصلی کتاب، بعد از گفت‌وگویی با یک داروخانه‌چیِ کتاب‌دوست، با نااُمیدیِ آشکاری از رشد پرستیژ رمان‌های کوتاه و مرتب (با استناد به عناوینی چون بارتلِبی، اسکری‌وِنِر و مسخ) به قیمت حذفِ اثار طولانی‌تر، جاه‌طبلانه تر و جسورانه‌تر (مانند موبیدیک و محاکمه) فکر می‌کرد: " چه تناقض غم‌انگیزی. حالا حتا داروسازهای کتاب‌خوان هم جرات ندارند به سراغِ آثار ناتمام سیل‌آسا بروند. کتاب‌هایی که مسیرهای ناشناخته را شعله‌ور می‌کند. آنها تمرین‌های کامل برای اثار بزرگ را انتخاب می‌کنند. آنها می‌خواهد مجادله‌ی اساتید بزرگ را ببینند اما علاقه‌ای به مبارزه‌ی واقعی ندارند. نمی‌خواهند ببینند اساتید بزرگ در برابر آن چیز مبارزه می‌کنند، آن چیزی که همه‌ی مارا می‌ترساند، آن چیزی که ما را، در برابر خون و زخم‌های مرگبار و بوی تعفن تحریک می‌کند تا مثل گاو حمله کنیم." شاید حجم بالای کتاب در قدم اول باعث شود برای خواندن رمان پیش‌قدم نشوید. اما نترسید! 2666 همچون هزار و یک شبی است که نمی‌گذارد خواننده کِسل شود. اگر عاشق ادبیات باشید، در هر صفحه‌ی کتاب داستانی جذاب انتظارتان را می‌کشد
Profile Image for Eva Pliakou.
109 reviews167 followers
April 11, 2021
Τις προάλλες μια φίλη μου είπε στα πλαίσια μιας σχετικής συζήτησης ότι «η λογοτεχνία δεν είναι το πιο σημαντικό πράγμα στον κόσμο». Με ξένισε και με στεναχώρησε κάπως αυτή η φράση, ευτυχώς όμως πριν από λίγο τελείωσα το 2666, ένα βιβλίο που αποδεικνύει σε 1161 αργές, ενίοτε βασανιστικές αλλά πάντα συγκλονιστικές σελίδες ότι η λογοτεχνία είναι αναμφισβήτητα το πιο σημαντικό πράγμα στον κόσμο - και πάλι καλά.

Δεν έχω τίποτα να πω γι’ αυτό το βιβλίο, το οποίο δεν σταματάει να είναι επώδυνα τέλειο σε κάθε μία από τις άπειρες σελίδες του. Ο Μπολάνιο, αυτή η σπάνια ιδιοφυία, έχει απόλυτη συνείδηση ότι γράφει το μεγαλύτερο μυθιστόρημα της γενιάς του, μπορεί και του αιώνα του, το γράφει ενώ ξέρει ότι θα πεθάνει και ότι τίποτα δικό του δεν θα γραφτεί πια, δεν τον πειράζει όμως και τόσο γιατί τίποτα δικό του δεν θα μπορούσε να φτάσει αυτό το ολοκληρωτικό αριστούργημα που είναι το 2666.
Profile Image for Bülent Ö. .
267 reviews121 followers
April 7, 2020

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 ve hala 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 bir 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.


Onu özlüyorum.
Profile Image for Sofia.
289 reviews96 followers
February 12, 2018
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 βρ��σκεται ακόμα στο κομοδίνο δίπλα στο κρεβάτι μου.
Profile Image for Zaphirenia.
283 reviews197 followers
May 3, 2018
Θα 'θελα να περιμένω να "κάτσει" λίγο μέσα μου πριν γράψω κάτι για αυτό που μόλις διάβασα, αλλά η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν κρατιέμαι. 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 που μόλις ολοκλήρωσα.

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 (παίρνω τις ιδέες μου από το Masterchef όπως καταλαβαίνετε). 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. Ο τίτλος είναι από μόνος του ένα αίνιγμα, μια και ο αριθμός 2666 δεν εμφανίζεται ούτε μια φορά στο βιβλίο (αλλά αντίθετα υπάρχει μια αναφορά σε άλλο βιβλίο του Bolano, το "Φυλαχτό"). Χρειάστηκε να διαβάσω για να βρω πώς συνδέεται με το βιβλίο, το ίδιο να κάνετε και εσείς.

Το πρώτο μέρος είναι η ιστορία τεσσάρων καθηγητών λογοτεχνίας στο πα��επιστήμιο που αναζητούν το ίνδαλμά τους, τον Γερμανό συγγραφέα Μπένο φον Αρτσιμπόλντι, που ζει εδώ και πολλά χρόνια εξαφανισμένος και απομονωμένος.

Στο δεύτερο μέρος, βλέπουμε την ιστορία ενός χιλιανού καθηγητή πανεπιστημίου που ζει στη Σάντα Τερέσα του Μεξικό 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 λίγο 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 συχνά 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 ήδη 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 σ��λίδες 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)
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