Seth T.'s Reviews > 2666

2666 by Roberto Bolaño
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it was amazing

To begin with, a poorly-devised haiku review:

Number of a rape:
Two and six and sixty-six.
It was a pleasure.


"I get the idea perfectly, Mickey," said Archimboldi, thinking all the while that this man was not only irritating but ridiculous, with the particular ridiculousness of self-dramatizers and poor fools convinced they've been present at a decisive moment in history, when it's common knowledge, thought Archimboldi, 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.

I'm not certain if this lesson from Bolaño's book translates as well to being present for great literary moments or if Bolaño doesn't also think that literature is a whore. I might be wrong there, but I might not be too far off track either. In any case, I'll boast in my humility and say up front that I do not know if 2666 is greatness or if it merely suffers from having greatness thrust upon, into, and through it.

I sense that there is something great there and that I may have just read one of the greatest books ever written. Only I feel myself inadequate to the task of discerning the book as I'd like. More, I feel completely inadequate to the composition of this review. After all, suppose Bolaño is the master? What right have I to approach his work, to sit in judgment over it. Even in, or especially in, favourable judgment.

I loved the book in an understated way that I don't know if I've previously experienced. It was amazing and awestriking and I'm sure I've only understood a fraction of what I was seeing. It's too big to see all at once and Bolaño's purpose is too slippery. I've read both Ishiguro's The Unconsoled and Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicle without ever feeling out of my depth, but this was just too grand.

I'll need and want to read it again. And maybe once more after.

I get the feeling too, that the length and breadth of the work are absolutely meant to exhaust the reader. Those occasional dearths of final punctuation, that leave the reader no place to pause, to breath, to sabbath, are all likewise meant to weary the reader. I get the feeling that not only was Bolaño intending to convey a story and its ideas, but that he was also working a grand psychological experiment on his readers in order to draw them ever more fully into the central experiences of the book. In fatiguing his readers so, he works to inure them to the grotesqueness of the world, to the horrible reality that we gloss with statistics and news headlines and class distinction et cetera.

I have not read Bolaño's other works, but now I want to do so. I want to unearth more of this world he sees, more of this world he tells.

2666 is not by any means one of Bolaño's perfect exercises. Instead, Bolaño battles and strives amidst vomit and gore and blood and the rape of both his characters and our sanctity as readers, no longer made safe by the hermetic seal of the book's page. Bolaño spills out blood and rage and misanthropy and maybe even love. In 2666 is found Bolaño and his "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."

Bolaño's book is somehow about the connection between literature and its critics and the rape and murder of women because they are women and it strikes me that in writing this review I am in some way participating in Bolaño's extended metaphor. This may or may not be the case, but consider it a tribute to the work that I am even here wondering if this isn't the case.
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2009 – Shelved
March 20, 2009 –
page 719
Started Reading
March 24, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Ooooo, I'm excited to read what you have to say about this. I submitted it for our book club's next read, but they totally rejected it (and me).

message 2: by Seth (last edited Aug 14, 2015 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seth T. Hah. What jerks. Well I suppose it is rather long... I chose a 600-page book for ours last time and got withering glances from all quarters. But really, why have a book club that doesn't challenge itself?

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