Liviu's Reviews > 2666

2666 by Roberto Bolaño
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Jun 24, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: mainstream, 2008_release_read, top_25_2008_novels, aq_more_favorites
Read in July, 2008

This is a book that leaves one speechless for its brilliance. At 900 pages long, and quite grim in parts, though darkly funny always, I would have read it continuously, but for regular life commitments; even so I managed to read it in 3 days and it is just sad to arrive at the end, though I am sure I will return quite a few times to it; it demands one re-reading at least to appreciate its edifice - it is composed by 5 interlinked parts and it is sprawling and open-ended so little details I am sure I missed on first read will acquire importance on the several rereads I plan for this book in time

Part one details the rise in reputation of the German writer Benno von Archimboldi, born in 1920, but a mysterious figure never seen by anyone except its publisher and supposedly living throughout the world. This part has as main characters 4 University professors and major Archimboldian translators/critics, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, a somewhat crippled Italian and an English lady, their inter relationships and meetings with assorted odd characters. Finally in 2001 they get a tip that Archimboldi has been recently seen in Mexico and they follow there.

Part two is shorter and stranger, about a weird Chilean academic currently teaching in Santa Teresa and met by the critics in part one - his back story and the whys of his keeping an obscure math book by a Spanish poet hanged on his clothesline outside his house and quite a few other weird happenings

Part three is seen through the eyes of a Harlem reporter who by chance is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match - he reports on African American politics/social issues but the sports reporter just got murdered - and his involvement with the daughter of the academic above and the first glimpse of the issues involving the hundreds of murders/rapes in Santa Teresa

Part four is about the murders - it is a grim litany of the bodies, the following investigations, sometimes followed by arrests, sometimes not, interspersed with a lot of other related things, like the affair between a detective and the head of the mental hospital, the story of various weird characters, corruption and indifference and much more.

Part five returns to Benno von Archimbaldi and tells his story focusing of his war experiences and how he got to be a writer, and later why he goes to Santa Teresa at age 81 in 2001.

The novel is quite open-ended though many things are revealed. Brilliant and indubitably the best novel I've read this year, and one of the best ever. I have not had this feeling of reading a masterpiece of literature since the 2006 Les Bienveillantes by J. Littell though for that one I need to read the English translation when it will get done to see how it truly stacks
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06/02/2016 marked as: read

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