I'm writing this less than a third of the way through this epic, and about halfway through Part 3: The Part About Fate. I have to return it in two dayI'm writing this less than a third of the way through this epic, and about halfway through Part 3: The Part About Fate. I have to return it in two days, and I have more than 600 pages to go, so I'm not going to make it through--I'm just going to try to finish the part that I'm in.
If you have not read Bolaño, do yourself a favor and pick him up. 2666, so far, is one of those self-conscious masterpieces, something you can't help but read and be aware of. This is a world that refuses to stay in the pages, that you find yourself inhabiting when you're in the car or in line at the pharmacy. There is so much mundanity in the characters that you start thinking of them as real in their very ordinariness. But there is beauty in the ordinary, there is beauty everywhere, and that is a conspicuous fact when one reads Bolaño. I am half-tempted to go buy the book once this is turned in, but I also look forward to the anticipation of it coming back into my life in a month or so, picking it up with gentle hands, and choosing where to start again.
"The mention of Trakl made Amalfitano think, as he went through the motions of teaching a class, about a drugstore near where he lived in Barcelona, a place he used to go when he needed medicine for Rosa. One of the employees was a young pharmacist, barely out of his teens, extremely thin and with big glasses, who would sit up at night reading a book when the pharmacy was open twenty-four hours. One night, while the kid was scanning the shelves, Amalfitano asked him what books he liked and what book he was reading, just to make conversation. Without turning, the pharmacist answered that he liked books like The Metamorphosis, Bartleby, A Simple Heart, A Christmas Carol. And then he said that he was reading Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Leaving aside the fact that A Simple Heart and Bartleby were stories, not books, there was something revelatory about the taste of this bookish young pharmacist, who in another life might have been Trakl or who in this life might still be writing poems as desperate as those of his distant Austrian counterpart, and who clearly and inarguably preferred minor works to major ones. He chose The Metamorphosis over The Trial, he chose Bartleby over Moby Dick, he chose A Simple Heart over Bouvard and Pécuchet, 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."
Why is it that we so badly crave perfection? Isn't he right, isn't it better to have something great, torrential, blazing paths into the unknown, imperfect, like the writer and life and all of us? That's the way this book makes you feel. It is human in an essential, difficult, authentic, supernatural way.