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2018 Book Discussions > 2666 - Whole Book and links between parts (Spoilers allowed) (Mar 2018)

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Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
I have decided to create a separate whole book thread, to respect Bolaño's vision that each of the five parts may be viewed as a stand-alone novel, which means that in theory they can be read in any order. This is also the best place to discuss the overall structure and what links there are between the parts.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
My review (which is long but could easily have been much longer!


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2353 comments This was a frustrating read to the extent that so much is left unresolved. Fascinating characters appear and then they are gone, never to be heard of again. There are some connections between the parts but the only one that I can recollect as being present to some degree in each part are the murders of the women. The stories within the story of each part were magnificent. I have read that Bolaño was a gifted short story writer and the stories, i.e., the digressions, in the parts of this book (and perhaps the parts themselves) support that.


message 4: by carissa (new)

carissa I'm finding this book dry, empty and, at times, pointlessly violent. Perhaps, that's partof Bolano's point?
I tend to dislike satire, so this book may not be for me.
Apologies, but I'm mailing this to my sister. She usually finds this type of social critique in novel form entertaining.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 457 comments carissa wrote: "I'm finding this book dry, empty and, at times, pointlessly violent. Perhaps, that's partof Bolano's point?
I tend to dislike satire, so this book may not be for me.
Apologies, but I'm mailing th..."


I'm having a hard time too. I liked the first book very much, but the thought of about 700 more pages in the same style is more than I can take. I did read the second book, but it felt like a chore. I may dip into the last book to find out what is the deal with Archimboldi - on the assumption that it is actually about him ;)


message 6: by carissa (new)

carissa Nadine wrote: "I liked the first book very much, but the thought of about 700 more pages in the same style is more than I can take. I did read the second book, but it felt like a chore. "

That's as far as I went too. I can't say that I liked it very much though. It was good, but dry as old bread. I paged forward and saw all the...well, that's a spoiler thing...but, boring details. I get it...maybe, but I'm on an Kazuo Ishigurokick since he won the big prize. Wanna read those of his that I haven't and am rereading a few that I remember liking, very much!
Let me know how it goes, Nadine.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2353 comments I guess we aren't all bored by the same things. I love details but can't say I thought that Bolano was very keen on them. Yes sometimes he would describe a scene in exquisite detail but he left so much unsaid!


message 8: by carissa (last edited Mar 30, 2018 07:06PM) (new)

carissa LindaJ^ wrote: " but he left so much unsaid..."

so true LindaJ! For me, it felt like I was reading a police blotter...it hurt my heart...and that was only a light skim!? I just can not do it right now...

Also, it makes me happy (and hopeful for the human race) that GR is a place we can have different opinions and have the freedom to voice them without it being considered a personal affront.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2353 comments Indeed. Hearing different opinions and different takes makes the reading experience more meaningful, I think.


message 10: by James E. (new)

James E. Martin | 77 comments The long, repetitive narrative of crimes against the various women have a kind of numbing effect, yet taken as a whole it emphasizes the pointless horror of the events. It's a strange technique but it does work in retrospect.


message 11: by carissa (new)

carissa James E. wrote: "It's a strange technique but it does work in retrospect. .."

It worked for me even though I didn't read it all. The banality of evil and all that. The ridiculousness of human nature...etc...etc...etc...
I didn't leave me numb, however. It made me feel empty/void that this is reality...not that I disagree, but yowza. Reading about the indifference of the universe isn't something I need to do...;)
I do look forward to everyone's experience reading this, though.


message 12: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
Nadine wrote: "I may dip into the last book to find out what is the deal with Archimboldi - on the assumption that it is actually about him ;)"
You will find (eventually) that it is about the same Archimboldi, but it doesn't say enough about the books to explain why the Critics are so obsessed with him, and the links between the sections are all rather tenuous - to me these were similar to the "ubernovel" links between David Mitchell's books.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 457 comments Hugh wrote: "..to me these were similar to the "ubernovel" links between David Mitchell's books. ..."

But sadly for me, not nearly as engaging :(


message 14: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
I suspect that Bolaño would stand up to re-reading a lot better than Mitchell though. It is a challenging book and will not be to everyone's taste, but for me this is exactly the kind of book the group should be reading.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments I'm about to start The Part About the Crimes, and I was thinking about some of the possible links between the first three books. It seems to me that nearly all the characters we've been introduced to at this point are incredibly alienated from what I might think of as real life. The critics live in a kind of dreamy unreality--an ivory tower, in a way, I suppose--and when they do intersect with reality, like the cab driver, they can't assimilate. They react with violence. Amalfitano has retreated from reality as well--in really bizarre ways--but his young 'friend' (Marco Guerra) engages with reality through violence as well. And Oscar Fate is so detached he doesn't know how he's supposed to feel about his mother's death, yet when he goes to the party after the boxing match, he also finds himself in a physical fight. The catalyst for the violence seems to be a kind of love, or at least a twisted understanding of it by the characters. Or maybe just a desire to feel alive. To feel alive necessitates some kind of physical pain.

I don't know--just some thoughts. We'll see if any of that holds up through the next two sections


message 16: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
Neil posted this link to a review containing a useful timeline in The Part about Archimboldi thread, but it is worth sharing here too:

https://ijustreadaboutthat.wordpress....


message 17: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 309 comments I've finished now and I officially loved it. 5 stars.

I enjoyed the build in Parts 1-3 where it started off relatively light with almost a farce as Norton jumped from bed to bed, but at the same time gave us hints of darkness to come. And then it gradually descended into madness. Madness seems to be an important concept, along with death and literature, in the book. I've said in other discussion threads that it felt like a David Lynch movie and that's especially true of these first 3 parts.

Part 4 seems to be the dark heart of the novel: an amazing piece of writing that is so different to what you might expect after Parts 1-3.

Part 5 is a fascinating biography with multiple digressions that is very entertaining to read, muses several times on literature and also provides some linkage between other parts.

I doubt I will ever read another novel like this.


message 18: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 309 comments I wanted to ask what people make of the misogyny and homophobia in the book? Is this just the characters or is there something of the author in this? What point do you think is being made?


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Neil wrote: "I wanted to ask what people make of the misogyny and homophobia in the book? Is this just the characters or is there something of the author in this? What point do you think is being made?"

Hello Neil--I thought about this some as well while I was reading. Even though there were elements of this throughout the book, I took it to be reflective of the prevailing attitude in Santa Theresa, which seemed to me to be a very male-dominated macho society. The section where the police officers are relaxing in a bar and one of them is spewing out joke after joke sort of reinforces that idea, to me.

If that's what it is, the point could be to reinforce the idea that cultural indifference (and sometimes outright cultural scorn) contributed to the deaths of the women.

But I also wondered if Bolaño believed that this kind of intolerance was actually true way that people conceptualize things, underneath their masks of civility and acceptance.


message 20: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 309 comments I was also thinking about that “cultural indifference” and its contribution to the murders. Your second point is an interesting one - thanks.


message 22: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
Thanks to everyone who has helped to make this a lively and stimulating discussion. As always, the discussion threads will remain open for late contributions.


message 23: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 23 comments I am intrigued with the idea of reading the parts of the novel out of order, perhaps with Neil's timeline link as a reference point. I liked the book very much-- I own (but haven't yet read) Savage Detectives, and I am very interested in reading his short stories-- given the amount of digressions and diversions in 2666, I would expect there to be a wonderful variety of topics in his shorter works.

I didn't realize that this was an unfinished work until I had started reading and was hooked. I was rather concerned about this-- I didn't want to read almost 900 pages and then be left hanging! The notes at the end of the book regarding this were very interesting, saying that Bolano considered the book to be almost finished. I do wonder what changes or additions he might have made if he had had the time.


message 24: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2713 comments Mod
Thanks Suki. I am not convinced that a book like this could ever be considered 100% completed - it certainly wouldn't feel right to tack a big conclusive ending onto it.


message 25: by Suki (last edited May 23, 2018 01:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 23 comments I was just looking up some of Bolano's other works: there is a novel published in 2012 called Woes of the True Policeman that continues the story of Amalfitano and his daughter Rosa. It is described as his last, unfinished novel. Want!!


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Hugh wrote: "Thanks Suki. I am not convinced that a book like this could ever be considered 100% completed - it certainly wouldn't feel right to tack a big conclusive ending onto it."

I agree completely. My guess is that if Bolaño had lived to see it 'finished', most of the work would have been in editing. There were some parts of the book I thought could have been tightened up some, especially in comparison with other sections which did seem well edited. That's just a guess, but I would have a hard time believing there was anything of substance that Bolaño would have included. It just isn't a book that calls for 'wrapping up'. Any kind of conclusion would feel didactic. Instead we get this wonderful horrible observation of life in a time and place we happen to inhabit, and are then left to draw our own conclusions. Or not.


message 27: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 23 comments I read a lot of Japanese literature, and it is very much like this-- the story will have an ambiguous ending, where you have to draw your own conclusions. The author has told everything of the story that they intended to tell. I have actually come to prefer this-- it feels as if the characters and the story are still alive somewhere, and life goes on.

I think it may be our western, tv-loving culture that has conditioned us to require everything wrapped up in a neat bow, with all the loose ends tucked in, at the end of the hour.


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