brian 's Reviews > 2666

2666 by Roberto Bolaño
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really liked it

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, that in watching visconti’s Senso, he was more interested by what he imagined happened after the fade-out then in the scenes themselves. 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 all the 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.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 6, 2008 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-50 of 88 (88 new)

Jason Wow. Great review--echoing your points about Bolano, it's full of ideas, passion, and places for readers to hook in.

So--could a Bolano neophyte start here? 'Cause this sounds right up my alley.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

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.

I felt the same way about Vanna White's autobiography.

If the translation isn't out yet for this, Brian, how'd you read it? Do you (1) read Spanish or (2) have connections or (3) none of the above?

message 3: by brian (last edited Jul 07, 2008 12:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   mike - thanks. and a lot of people will say that 2666 shouldn't be read first as it was bolano's final book and, in many ways, the culmination of all he did... but i think that's bullshit. i can't think of another book that drew me in so quickly and really never let up. it's long, but a fast read. and wildly fascinating. check it out. if you wanna get a taste of the guy before november, i think Last Evenings on Earth is a good place to start.

david - piss off. and i wish i could say (1) but i'm a typical american who had every opportunity in school to learn a second language but fucked it off. dumb. the answer is (2) because, y'know, i'm kind of a big deal.

message 4: by Steev (last edited Jul 23, 2008 08:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Steev Hise Brian, nice review, it makes me want to read the book even more, and i've already been chomping at the bit to do so for many months.

However, I take issue with part of your analysis of the Juarez femicide, though you can't really be blamed, because it's the dominant analysis by both reporters and the authors of fictionalized accounts (whether in writing or film - I hope Bolaño is an exception). The murders are most definitely not the work of one killer or even one group of killers, and the solution is not to solve a "whodunnit" mystery.

The killings are a result of a systemic set of social, cultural, and economic factors that have allowed them to happen and keep happening. The femicide probably began and continues as the acts of a small group of very powerful men with connections to the Mexican government(s) and drug cartels, but it has grown and snowballed into a phenomenon of copycat crimes and the development of Juarez as an easy place for anyone to go to if they want to kill women with impunity.

So the solution is not to "fry that fucker straight to hell" even if you could find him, because it's not just one "fucker". The answer, if there is one at all, is more complicated and involves fighting things like corruption; poverty; unjust drug, trade and immigration policy; racism; and machismo.

Actually, re-reading your review makes me think that you have the same take on it, but a typo makes it unclear, perhaps. So I apologize if that's the case but I wanted to elaborate anyway.

For those interested, I made a documentary in 2006 that examines the issue from the above perspective. info about it is here:

message 5: by Selve (new)

Selve hi

guys can anyone tell me what this 2666 all about,, becuase being a born again -a believer i believe god is speaking to me about 2666..and i do not know what it is all about//my car no starts with 2666, my residence phone no, strates with 2666 and much more... can u plz mail me at

message 6: by brian (last edited Sep 05, 2008 09:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   Selve is a great person. if selve really exists. i really don't know myself. my self. mine.

self. selve. uh-oh.

i have blackout lately and and what you say//into the iphone is not what comes out the other end and ------ my mirrors are all different than what looks into them and i think i am selve. selve is me. self. selve. selves. we are all sel(ve)f. thank strate fuck 2666 yes.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

You're a true Savage Detective, Brian.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

And a visceral realist.

brian   montambo, you're the coolest. and not only b/c of the crazy crazy crazy junior high school ming-the-merciless paw-print photo (but that helps enormously)...

donald, check out bolano's nazi literature in america... there's a bit about some nutso philip k dick fanclub geeks.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Montambo, where were you last Saturday?? I had the Smurfs videotapes (on Beta) all cued up and a bowl of Fruity Pebbles with your name on it...

(Psssst, Mr. Falwell... Long before Tinky Winky, there was Vanity Smurf.)

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Saturday? Saturday...hmmm.

Oh yeah! Blow. And hookers.

message 12: by Malbadeen (new)

Malbadeen would that be the same blow and hookers we're using my spousal support for?

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)


Jessica God, will someone on here remind me why I ever left Oregon?

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Wanna meet halfway? Indiana? For Smurfs and cereal?

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow. Donald is hatin' on me all over GoodReads today. Don't be jealous, big guy. You're invited, too...

Jessica My favorite thing that happened today was when Donald called David a "genre-hating whore." Hah! Who needs that nauseating presidential race shitshow? We've got all the great, dirty brawling we need, right here on Bookface....

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I take exception to the "genre-hating" part...

Steev Hise genres, schmenres.

but anyway, hmm, this discussion has very little to do with the book, if i'm not mistaken. now i think i have to leave another comment in order to un-check the little "add to my feed" box so that i stop getting emails about this thread...

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Sorry, Steev, I don't think unchecking "add to my update feed" will prevent e-mail notifications... You'll have to delete your posts or change your notification status.

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I object, Steev. These comments have everything to do with this book!

Steev Hise how so?

message 23: by Selve (new)

Selve hey brian

my name is selve.. how is that u can become selve..thts me

brian   i dont need to bcome selve if i already am selve. who are you?

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

doesn't, actually.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow... this is totally like a retarded Abbott and Costello routine...

Steev Hise agreed. and 'retarded' is the operative term.

message 28: by brian (last edited Sep 05, 2008 08:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   then get off the thread you humorless jackass. (S.R.!)

Steev Hise brian, i've been trying but goodreads keeps sending me emails whenever someone posts, even after changing whatever settings might possibly stop them. very annoying.

brian   check message 25 for the solution.

message 31: by Steev (last edited Sep 05, 2008 08:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Steev Hise um, duh. i tried changing my settings. and i dont wish to delete all of my comments. that's ridiculous if that's the only way to stop the stupid emails.

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Well... you know you don't have to come back to the thread every time you receive a notification. It's not mandatory or anything. Just delete 'em. Eventually everyone'll get tired of talking about Smurfs and Selve... or maybe not.

brian   you're stuck with us (or more unfortunately, we're stuck with you) unless you delete your posts. sorry.

because i'm a huge fucking prick, steev, and because of the way you spell your name, i refuse to let this thread die... if only to pile onto your email like 20 border cops on a half-dead dehydrated pollo...

Steev Hise >because i'm a huge fucking prick, steev,

yeah, i'd have to agree with that. how'd you get that way?

brian   hung around too many self serious masochists...

brian   single greatest entry in the history of this site.

good work donald.

Jessica Stay free, Donald!

That was fucking awesome.

message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Wow, I must be drunk or something, because I totally thought Donald said "I don't care that Brian has a huge penis" and I thought, how does he know? Then I read it again.

And the Clash are the shit.

Jessica Wait, Brian has a huge penis?!

message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 07, 2008 05:54AM) (new)

Yes, for a Jew, he does. Haven't you seen the pictures of It he's plastered all over the internet? Geez, I'm surprised he hasn't used one as his Bookface avatar.

See... and all this time I thought the rabid pit bull anger was just compensation...

(P.S. Shut up, Brian. Shut. Up. Play by the rules.)


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Steev, you really should thank me for killing this thread...

message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I don't think it was you. I think it was Brian's penis.

message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 08, 2008 11:38AM) (new)

Oh yes, Brian's penis has killed many things...

Book review threads, baby seals, appetites...

But don't let us hold it against him.

(There's a joke sitting there on the diving board for anyone who wants to push it off. I'm too tired just now...)

message 44: by Sarah (new)

Sarah If I were a single gal I might say something like "No, hold it against me instead" but under the circumstances I'm guessing that would be wildly inappropriate.

message 45: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Ditto.

Freakin' hiccups.

Jessica Visconti is me
Magnani you'll never be
I entered nothing and nothing entered me
'Til you came with the key
And you did your best but

As I live and breathe
You have killed me
You have killed me
Yes, I walk around somehow
But you have killed me
You have killed me.

Jessica (That was addressed to Sarah.)

message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

I thought that was about Pasolini, not Visconti. I'm confused.

message 49: by brian (last edited Sep 08, 2008 12:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   y'all need to get off my DICK, yo.

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Suit your Selve.

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