Carl's Reviews > 2666

2666 by Roberto Bolaño
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's review
Jan 26, 2009

it was ok
Read in January, 2009

“Madness is contagious,” the most memorable line from this sprawling, desultory, Frankenstein of a novel. And madness is a tedious, dull slog in Bolano’s world. I can ride through a couple hundred pages of experimental obnoxiousness in an ambitious novel like this, as long as the rewards are there. But, ultimately, 2666’s rewards are minor.

I started out liking this book, found it fascinating and darkly funny in the Kafka sense. From there the humor was either lost, or, later, shifted registers into that nasty Celine territory, which I can get interested in if something worthwhile is at stake, something important is being said or grappled with. But, as you read, it becomes evident that the stories and motifs are going nowhere, really, or perversely feeding back into themselves, as though written by a madman applying his very personal and idiosyncratic logic to stories and ideas, whose only end is to regenerate further applications of this logic, never getting anywhere--deliberately going nowhere--the sole purpose to keep his madness alive and thriving.

If you’re looking for any remotely sympathetic characters, you won’t find them here. They’re not even characters--more like zombies, really. If you think zombies are cool, you may hate them after reading this book. “Death to zombies!” may be your new motto. Then there’s the sense that the novel is so full of literary inside jokes or elaborate cross-textual references so as to render it incomprehensible to a reader like me. I really couldn't stand nearly all of the final book. Was that supposed to be funny? interesting? fascinating? insightful?

Masterpiece? I don't think so.

While there is much to be admired in Bolano’s skills (his narrative command is excellent, which makes what he’s using it for frustrating), and he has some fine sentences, figurative and philosophical, the final experience of this novel is just plain boredom. Finishing the last page, I was left completely cold and disinterested in unraveling any the stories’ various enigmas.

2666 comes across as a grand exercise in narrative obfuscation. If that’s what he was going for, mission accomplished.
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04/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric You may have hated the novel, but at least it inspired you to write a great review.

message 2: by Kate (new)

Kate awesome review. i was laughing out loud! thanks...

message 3: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Vincent I LOL'd as well. I'm only on page 200 and you nailed everything I don't like about the book. There's a lot more to it I do like though.

message 4: by Joe (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joe I have to agree. This novel has very little in the way of rewards for the tedium one must endure. It was literally one rape after another with some different clothing thrown in to make it seem like something different. The book never goes nowhere and leads to nothing. It says nothing at all. It is madness and celebrates madness, violence and sexism. I only stuck with it as I thought at some point it might actually bring things together and say something of worth. By the time I was near the end, I realized I had wasted countless hours. This goes down as my longest, most miserable, worthless read of all time.

K.D. Absolutely I am in the last 100 pages of the book and I don't know if I will agree with you or not. I think it will depend on what Bolano did to tie up the loose ends and there are many of those.

message 6: by Joe (last edited Sep 13, 2012 11:15PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joe Absolutely accurate, Carl, except I wouldn't even have wasted the time writing such an articulate review about such a disappointing book. You nailed it. I can think of no book as wasteful and disappointing as this one in recent memory. I would urge anyone reading it to stop immediately as it seems almost everyone who commented here has had the same impression of it.

Rowan Smith For me, The Part About Archimboldi really made up for how difficult and unlikable the book and characters had been. The Part About The Killings was a necessary crux that the rest of the book balances on, and the desensitization that it causes in the reader, and the horror I felt at the realization of it, is one of the strangest feelings I've ever had while reading a book. I agree that most of the characters are not very likable (Archimboldi and Fate are two that spring to mind as likable for me).

message 8: by Maartje (new)

Maartje Bronkhorst Great review!

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