2666 Roman

by Roberto Bolaño

Other authorsChristian Hansen (Translator)
Hardcover, 2009



Call number

IQ 69990 B687 Z9



München Hanser 2009


An American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student interact in an urban community on the U.S.-Mexico border where hundreds of young factory workers have disappeared.

Media reviews

”2066” är en av dessa sällsynta romaner man skulle kunna bosätta sig i.
13 more
Nu bör alla som inte redan skaffat och läst den ha slängt på sig halsduken i farten, störtat ut i hösten och vara i fullt fläng på väg mot närmaste bokhandel. (Note: this is not the same review as the other one by the same reviewer. It concerns a different translation.)
Lever han upp till sina ambitioner? Tveklöst. ”2066” är en av dessa sällsynta romaner man skulle kunna bosätta sig i.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"2666" ist ein kühnes, wildes, hochexperimentelles Ungetüm von einem Roman. In der vorliegenden Form keineswegs perfekt - besonders der zweite, dritte und fünfte Teil haben große Längen -, ist er doch immer noch so ziemlich allem überlegen, was in den letzten Jahren veröffentlicht wurde.
Theorie her oder hin, "2666" ist ein ungeheuerlicher Wal von einem Roman, er bläst seine Fontänen hoch in den Äther.
Roberto Bolaño »Wie ein bekiffter Zuhälter« Das Vermächtnis: Roberto Bolaños Roman »2666« ist ein Meilenstein der literarischen Evolution
Ein James Dean war er nicht Jetzt ist Bolaños Meisterwerk "2666" auf Deutsch erschienen. Übersetzt wurde auch der Mythos um einen Autor, den es jenseits der wilden Legenden zu entdecken gibt
Der Schriftsteller Roberto Bolaño stilisierte sich als Outlaw und blieb bis zu seinem Tod 2003 ein Geheimtipp. Sein Roman "2666" erscheint nun auf Deutsch. Ein Meisterwerk.
Süddeutsche Zeitung
Ein solches großes, unvollkommenes, überschäumendes Werk, das die Wunden und den Gestank so wenig scheut und eben deshalb geradezu unbändig der Lebenslust, auch der sexuellen, huldigt, ist Roberto Bolanos letzter Roman.
Vad är det som gör att man fastnar i en sådan här ständigt fallfärdig roman? Vad är det som får mig att ständigt behöva resa mig efter somliga rader, gå fram till fönstret och låta lyckoruset rinna undan innan jag kan läsa vidare?
The work of Bolaño, the Chilean poet and novelist who died in 2003 at the age 50 from liver disease and would now be enjoying literary superstar status if fate had been kinder, is particularly explosive for those who read it in English, since so much of it has been translated in such a short time.
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Last year “The Savage Detectives” (which, like “2666,” has been translated with wonderful agility by Natasha Wimmer) catapulted him from obscurity to worshipful adulation. And that book seems modest compared with “2666.”
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“2666” is as consummate a performance as any 900-page novel dare hope to be: Bolaño won the race to the finish line in writing what he plainly intended, in his self-interrogating way, as a master statement. Indeed, he produced not only a supreme capstone to his own vaulting ambition, but a
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landmark in what’s possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world
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Literatur von einem anderen Planeten. Roberto Bolaños posthum erschienener Roman 2666 über die unaufgeklärte Mordserie an Frauen in Mexiko ist eine atemberaubende Reise ins finstere Herz der modernen Welt.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member baswood
This book has been hailed as the first great book of the 21st century (Complete Review). Its 893 pages have been reviewed by 77 LT members alone and it is owned by 2,643 people.

It is a huge sprawl of a novel divided into five distinct parts that although connected have very little narrative drive.
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It is an unfinished novel written by a dying man who wished it to be published as five separate books. There are no resolutions, nothing is tidy and a strong stomach is needed to digest the countless violent deaths that occur with increasing rapidity. The novel is misogynistic, racist and sexist with an author more in love with literature than his fellow human beings. He keeps many of his character's emotions at arms length any humour is of the blackest kind and its cast of thousands can be bewildering. Having said all that it is a novel of striking originality, a major achievement and for the most part very readable.

The subjects that link the novel are the murders of hundreds of women in the northern Mexican town of Santa Teresa, the search for a reclusive author who might have been a Nazi sympathiser and the murderer of Jews in the Second world war. The major themes that emerge are the impotency of individuals when faced with an almost global evil, The ineffectiveness of art when faced with brutal reality, the brevity of life and how that can be so easily taken away from those with little power or money and the violence that lives just below the surface of any civilization. The book literally teams with ideas, fascinating digressions and dream states, so much so that any attempt to enumerate and expand on these would take pages of script. needless to say for those who want to undertake a detailed analysis then there are enough talking points to keep them busy for the rest of the year.

The reason for Bolano's wish to have his novel published as five separate books was apparently financial, but I think a case could be made on artistic grounds. Being new to Bolano's oeuvre I found that Part 5: The part about Archimboldi, more readily demonstrates the power and sweep of Bolano's vision. Not only does this part have the broadest narrative drive it also brings us closer to the thoughts and feelings of his characters. There is more compassion and humanity shown here despite its subject matter, which is Archimboldi's war career and its aftermath in a destroyed Germany. This part of the book stands easily on its own and I for one would liked to have read this part first and gone back to the previous parts. There are some loose ends tied up here and one mystery solved, however this is not a mystery or detective story, as such and enjoyment would not be spoilt by reading this part first.

The other four parts each have a distinct style and stand on their own. Part 1: The Part about the Critics, follows four academics search for the mysterious Archimboldi. It is written in a cold almost analytical style that reflects the world of Academia and allows Bolano to compare their sheltered and privileged lives with their detachment from reality. It is almost a parody as the infighting, competition and obsession with a creative talent dominates their lives and relationships. It allows Bolano to indulge in some pastiche as well as his knowledge of world literature. The academic trail leads them to Santa Teresa where they become tourists hardly touched by the violence of the city.

Part 2: The part about Amalfitano: takes us closer to reality. Amalfitano moves to Santa Teresa where the violence and his impotence in being unable to protect his wife and daughter leads to his mental breakdown. Bolano has the murders lurking on the edge of our vision hanging like some sword of Damocles over his characters. The atmosphere is brooding and dark and the sense of dread is well handled.

Part 3: The part about Fate: finds us in noir thriller land as Oscar Fate a journalist in Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match gets very close to the violence and murder. He takes action and risks his life to save Amalfitano's daughter. This part is exciting and fast paced, but still Bolano effortlessly interweaves his digressions and dream states without losing his focus on the tension in his story line.

Part 4: The part about the Crimes: a dramatic change of style again as Bolano takes us into the horror of the criminal world of Santa Teresa. This is the longest section and much of it is a clinical newspaper type reportage of the murders of women. The discovery of the bodies and the clinical details of their assaults are described in almost pornographic relish as they occur over a four year period. Hundreds of unsolved crimes are listed with their forensic detail, piling up to amount to mind numbing horror. A parody of the modern detective forensic novel perhaps, with the inefficiency and corruption of the police force implicit in the details. This long section spells out the evils of a modern capitalist society running unchecked and is a political commentary as much as anything else.

This is a powerful novel that covers huge areas of modern society and its evils. Superbly written, intelligent and endlessly thought provoking. A book that I will come back to and will read the parts as separate novels now that I have the whole sweep of the thing in my head. A flawed masterpiece
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LibraryThing member GingerbreadMan
Okay, so this book took me most of July to read. This is, I cannot stress this enough, due to bulk only. (A hardback clocking in at around 1050 pages is a slow read for other reasons than the length itself too – the format makes one hesitant to bring it along for all those occasions where you
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might find time to read just a few pages) It’s not a difficult read (apart from emotionally at times), nor is it boring. For pure page turning reasons, there is really nothing standing in the way of anyone picking this up. Just saying, since I’ve seen fellow LT:ers hesitating from the impression Bolaño is too hard.

2666 is really five books, forming a pattern around the lost German writer Archimboldi and the (fictive?) Mexican city Santa Teresa, a hub for manufacturing industry and illegal activities close to the US border. It is also the stage for hundreds of brutal unsolved murders of women. The five books are only loosely connected in characters, places and themes, and the book is in no way forming a closed unit. Even in themselves, the books often feel like slices of life rather than storylines, and all of them have numerous sidetracks and disconnected anecdotes.

The first book is about four European literary scholars who share an expertise on the mysterious Archimboldi, which forms the foundation of a complicated friendship. They receive a strange tip that Archimboldi, vanished from the public light for most of his career, has been spotted in Santa Teresa for unknown reasons. Their journey there is a discomforting one, and one that changes their relations forever. This book is written in a laid back, casually intellectual sort of style, and it’s kind of hard to pinpoint what makes it such an engrossing read. But it is.

The second book deals with Amalfitano, a minor character from the first book. He’s a college professor in Santa Teresa, who is extremely worried about the endless murders of young women. His young daughter is beginning to break free, staying out late, getting high and drunk, and the anxiety pushes him over the edge. One day he hears a voice in his head, saying “I’m here now”. This book is not driven by story at all, but is a pretty chilling account of what it might be like to go into psychosis, from the early attempts of trying to ignore it, then to hide it and finally to give in to it. It all ends kind of abruptly though, and we hear nothing more of this character.

The third book’s main character is an American reporter, sent to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match, a sport he knows virtually nothing about. He soon gets to hear about the killings though, and tries to convince his magazine back home that there’s a story here. At the same time, things around him grow stranger and stranger in a subtle sort of way, and more threatening as he hooks up with Rosa Amalfitano. This book is written in sort of noir style, without really being a crime story.
The fourth book is the one people warned me about. It deals with the numerous murders, and the tired, detached police working with the investigations. It’s not easy reading, consisting mostly of endless accounts of who the victims are, where they are found and in what state. It’s stark, but dulls the reader down, and a couple of hundred pages in you have the same sense of hopelessness and overwhelming as the officers in the book. The pattern that forms is that of a masculinity gone mad, with killings inspiring more and more killings, devaluating women further. The law is by no means innocent. This book is in the form of a gruesome calendar, but under way storylines develop: a very young police is trying to improve on the sloppy investigations, political forces very much want all the killings to be the work of a single culprit, a parliament member is on a private crusade, and the man the rampage is hung on is establishing himself in jail and giving a series of strange press conferences. The fourth book is probably about hundred pages too long, but it’s major flaw is that 2666 isn’t really a book about the killings in Santa Teresa – they form a gruesome backdrop, an ambience. Bolaño has no real interest in tying up the knots, and ends the fourth book very abruptly. Which, even having had a feeling it might be that way, feels more than a little disconcerting.

The fifth book is about Archimboldi himself. It’s about his growing up, his time in the Nazi war machine, the horrors of the crumbling eastern front, about his finding a secret diary in a cottage in Ukraine that changes his life. It’s about his love, his work and his disappearance. It’s a sort of post-war epic, feeling very European in its style, and contains a lot of the book’s most gripping scenes. It finally also gives us the explanation on why he went to Mexico, bringing the book to its closure.

There’s so much richness in this book, truly, so many stories. And the pages mostly fly by. In the end though, what stops me from calling it a truly great book (in the grand sense of the word) is that it is just a little bit too open, too disjointed. There is too much left hanging. I’m all for mysteries, gaps and missing pieces, but here the balance between questions and answers isn’t quite right to me. Nevertheless, it’s not often I read a book as rich and captivating as this, and if you are up for the slight frustration that comes with being abandoned by a writer, I heartily recommend 2666. I’ll probably reread it at some point, and for a book of 1050 pages, that’s saying something.
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LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Like--well, no, more than, in many cases--any book this big and oblique, there's a lot here, and you could build any number of readings on it. I went up and down a few times reading it. The first book is a goodnaturedly arid look at some, like, thoroughly postmodern professors and their prejudices
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and their craving for love, and it ends with a cliche that I think is meant--goodnaturedly--to mock. The second part turns some of our assumptions on their heads--the born supporting player from the start, this picaresque Amalfitano, turns out to have a spirit like Van Gogh, and when we break him open he's full of pain and beauty--full of the past, full of a story--but crucially, no resolution, no present.

The third part, I gotta say, feels like a waste of time for the most part. It introduces us to some context, I guess, for the fourth, but it mostly feels like it does in a sour and insulting way what the part about the critics did with a sense of fun--brings a foreigner down to have a cliche "one night in Ciudad Juarez--and it was a night he'd never forget"-type go-round, forcing Mexico back into the role of stage, "pastiche of a pastiche".

The fourth part is the oasis if horror in the desert of boredom, as the epigraph will have it. It is about the kilings of more than 400 women in Ciudad Juarez, which is called Santa Teresa in the book, and the killings, which are fictionalized but real and still going on, and, as has been astutely observed, how you deal with the 300-page assault of grisly details--with disgust, sadness, ennui, interest--raises any number of further problems. It's the flipside of the professors and their sexy anomie, their desire to float through life and study and couple and the search for the writer Archimboldi that gives them a story, a quest--this is the constant obscene fulfilment of desire as its own story, the dreary repetition of slaughter that means nothing at all, certainly not that it will ever have any meaning or that the killer will be caught. It's Lacanian--the desire itself as the fulfilment of desire, the compulsion to keep desiring, and the murders as nothing more than the site on which the desire can be born.

And then the fifth part is a straightforward, smoothly written, gripping, playful, etc., postmodern novel. (Bolaño can really write when he puts his mind to it--this books full of little artgasms that are somewhere between an imploding lightning bulb and a bloodflower). It does require you to suck up a surfeit of the Babel (the film)-esque cod-cosmopolitanism he falls into that just tries too hard (my other main criticism of him is the way he treats sex--I know all this stuff with how long the professors can do it and how much Hans and Ingeborg can do it and the priapism of the Romanian general is partly a windup, partly a contrast with part four, where sex is a nervous tic on the part of traumatized people at best and an adjunct to hell at worst. But there's still something sweaty palmed about it). But no, it's good, it steals from Thomas Mann and Günter Grass (again, not an original observation, but it's quite blatant, you'd see it too) and tells us one more story about the tired old war, and there are some happenings, and it's well done. It's horror narrativized, and that to me is the point of the allegory here: the Europeans, the Americans, all get stories. WWII is narrative through and through--the killings in Mexico are barely known (I'd never heard of 'em). Foreigners get to be good and evil and kill or search for a reclusive writer or have a whirlwind life all up and through the twentieth century--Mexicans get to sit behind their fence, work at their maquiladora, and hope they're not gonna get murdered. I'm not trying to support this argument so much as just put it out there and see if it strikes a chord in you when you read the book: 2666 is surplus narrative, and we all know what happens to surplus value, right? It accrues to the wealthy. This is a story about how the same rich world that exploits the poor world in so many ways is depriving it of its own stories, leaving nothing but dust and a succession of moments to be filled however you can, but without forward motion. Amalfitano, with his book on the clothesline and his nonsense diagrams, becomes, perhaps, the mad mage, the one who sees what nobody else does? Archimboldi, with the compassion of his final gesture in going to help his nephew, becomes an acknowledgment on the part of the author that systematic oppression, while it implicates everyone who benefits from it, doesn't implicate us completely.

Of course, it's a dark ending too, because a lot of how we read that gesture depends, and I'm trying not to spoil things for you, on who we think killed those women. Because that shit's real. And it's still going on. And the killer is probably just about everybody.
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LibraryThing member Oryan685
I bought this book as soon as it came out with huge expectations and boundless excitement. Within the first few hundred pages my expectations came crashing down around me. What the hell? Pointless and rambling with fits of interesting narrative and characters that almost threaten to go somewhere
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but then abruptly fall off. I just couldn't make it through. It sits, dusty on my shelf, as one of the few books that I have ever begun and not finished. Perhaps one day I will try again. Those of you who loved this: you see something that I just cannot.
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LibraryThing member lriley
Considered by most it seems as Roberto Bolano's masterpiece--2666 certainly ranks as one of the most ambitious works that I have ever read. Split into 5 different sections with mostly different characters, plotlines and at times differences in technique and style--Bolano in effect attempted to take
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5 developed stories and turn them into one.

In the first part an obscure German fiction writer--Benno von Archimboldi becomes the obsession of a number of translators and literary academics. Over a period of years after countless articles and conventions and conferences von Archimboldi's name is definitely in the public spotlight to the point that he's an annual Nobel literary candidate--yet there is almost no biographical detail on the writer, no ideas of his whereabouts and no photographs--what is known is that he was born around 1920 and he is an unusually tall man. The first part focuses around 4 particular translators and academics--these are the keenest Archimboldi fans right from the beginning. They eventually track him to a city--Santa Teresa in northern Mexico where his trail peters out.

The second part concerns one Amalfitano--a Spaniard and a professor now living in Santa Teresa with his daughter Rosa. Introduced towards the end of Part I--being the contact person between the group in Part I and the local university. Bolano uses this part mainly to flesh out more about Santa Teresa.

In any case part III introduces a black American journalist--Oscar Fate working for an obscure and struggling african american magazine. His expertise is mainly in the political and hard news arena but when that magazines boxing reporter unexpectedly dies--he is diverted to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match between two light heavyweights--a young and upcoming african american vs. a young and upcoming Santa Teresa native. While in Santa Teresa waiting for the match--he hears all kinds of rumors about the murders of young women in the area. He also hooks up with Amalfitano's daughter Rosa. Convinced there's a big story he tries to convince his editor to let him stay and cover it but he's pulled away.

Section IV revolves mainly around the deaths of the women--most of which are fairly gruesome--are written out in the terminology of police reporting and in descriptions of the detective work much of which is inept. As well suspicion revolves around a young German shopkeeper named Klaus a shopkeeper who is suspected of being a serial killer--he is arrested and put in prison to await trial. Much of this part describes as well Klaus's prison experiences. Claiming his innocence--and as well while murders continue to frequently occur at the same time he is well enough off where he can build a gang around him which enables him to insulate himself against the normal violence from within. Whether or not Klaus is a serial killer--in any case it's obvious as well that he is a scapegoat of mostly unseen forces. Being in northern Mexico--Santa Teresa is located very near the Arizona border and is home to many maquiladora's all of which are intent on exploiting it's laborers (the majority young and female) to the nth degree. Many of the murder victims (some very young teenage girls) work in these factories and sweatshops. Surrounding the maquiladora's are the territories of the narco and human trafficers, the coyotes who lead illegals across the border into the United States, a class of super wealthy hedonist bankers, industrialists and politicians who set up orgies and corrupt judges and policemen who look the other way and allow everything to happen--each group enabling the perversions of all the others.

The final part--part V--clears up the missing biographical detail about who actually is the Benno von Archimboldi of the first part. His actual name as it turns out is Hans Reiter. He is a German WWII Eastern front veteran. It details his life from birth onward. Reiter is a somewhat strange child--his father a crippled WWI veteran. His mother blind in one eye. He has a much younger sister Lotte. After the war he settles down and works odd jobs--eventually he starts to write and finds a publisher who is very enthusiastic about his work. His girlfriend dies and he drifts--going here and there--once again surviving on odd jobs and continuing to write. Mainly he stays out of contact with his family and does not build close relationships with others. As for his sister Lotte--she eventually marries and has one son--Klaus--who in his late teens starts to have the odd run in with the law. He eventually emigrates to the United States and soon after disappears for a number of years. Eventually Lotte and her husband try to trace him from his last know whereabouts in the United States but the investigation goes nowhere. One day some years later though Lotte receives a phone call from a lawyer in Mexico representing the Klaus of Part IV--her missing Klaus who is the one sitting in the Mexican prison. Over the next few years as the case goes back and forth Lotte makes occasional visits to him. Eventually as well she reconnects with her older brother Hans who in the books final pages she enlists to help her son.

Anyway I think I've more or less got the gist of it. In the end this is not neatly wrapped up by any means. Whatever Klaus is guilty of is still open to interpretation. If the reader is looking for completeness here he or she may feel a bit disappointed. To say though that the book kind of peters out would be incorrect IMO however--it's just left open ended--well many great books are. Joyce's Ulysses for one. What I'll say is that Bolano has an extraordinarily powerful writing style. His use of language and linguistic technique is extremely subtle. His prose might seem ordinary at times but it draws the reader in--it is never boring. In a way Bolano seems to be commenting about any person's right to live and breather freely--about borders and people not in the limelight who are just trying to surviveas best they can--often becoming victims of the societies and bureaucracies that they live in and/or that surround them. It is a great book though I'm not sure I'd claim it was better than his Savage Detectives. I think that is open to debate. I definitely would recommend it though.
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LibraryThing member TheTwoDs
So as I'm reading 2666 I begin to shudder in a way that few works of art can make me do, thoughts of David Lynch and Italo Calvino on a two year bender in Mexico producing the love-child that is 2666 percolating in my mind. Then, a few pages later, some of the characters begin discussing David
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Lynch...whoa indeed. For a novel without closure, there are so many stories here, stories within stories, stories that diverge, converge, twist upon each other...hell, it's as if Bolano came upon Robert Frost's roads diverging in a yellow wood, said screw the laws of physics and took both at the same time. The more I think about 2666, the more disturbing it becomes. Sure, it's a treatise on death and the mortality we all face, but at the same time it juxtaposes this morbidity with the creation of art. More importantly, the criticism of that art is torn asunder. You can almost see Bolano laughing as he toys with critics, who will wonder what certain passages mean only to discover...well, I'll leave that to you. Simply put, 2666 is the best novel I have ever read. And, I will never feel at ease in a hotel room again.
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LibraryThing member lucienspringer
Spanish writer Javier Cercas, a contemporary of Roberto Bolaño, once described an overly adulatory critic: “[H]e more or less said there was an immense gulf in universal literature between me and Cervantes.” That kind of reaction is only a slight exaggeration of the well-deserved response 2666
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has enjoyed from the international critical community. It’s already taken a place among “the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unknown,” an extremely dark, violent, confrontational book that “struggle[s] 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,” as a much-cited self-descriptive passage from the novel puts it. It’s an allusive and literary book strongly concerned with the role and function of art, but it’s also deeply engaged with the mundane world, from global politics to the smallest domestic detail. Bolaño is occasionally lyrical but more frequently direct, demonstrating a facility with styles and tones from broad comedy to blackest despair. The five discrete sections that make up 2666 could stand as novels in their own right, twists on different genres from academic satire to clinical police procedural to bildungsroman. Each chapter is itself a tantalizing buildup toward an unrealized revelation, and the collective narrative, tied together by minor plot threads and larger thematic concerns, eventually circles back to where it started. Seeking a fuller exegesis of the complexities on offer will be more than worth your time, but in this brief overview I’ll mention just one interesting effect of this structure. It creates an almost suspenseful narrative movement, not forward with time’s arrow but along a downward spiral toward the abyss at the center of the novel, the cloaca that is the fictionalized city of Santa Teresa, around which all the characters revolve and from which all the world’s evil threatens to emerge. The underlying horror at the heart of the book remains a suggestion rather than a clear manifestation, however. The unsettling sensation produced by continual approach without arrival is evocative of the Shepard scale, an auditory illusion involving overlapping scales that appear to rise endlessly in pitch without actually getting any higher. It’s the sound of Munch’s infinite scream, the whine of the plummeting rocket above Pynchon’s theater that hasn’t quite hit us when the last page turns. You’ll be amply rewarded if you listen closely to it.
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LibraryThing member psybre
Embarrassed in light of the many expansive and positive reviews here, I cannot continue reading this book. I am constantly bored with the third-person narrative describing the most common everyday events of the characters in detail and describing interesting events in sparse, six word sentences. I
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struggled to continue reading from about page 40 to the end of the first book. Each character that had at first been interesting became tiresome. The absurd aspect of the writing where the characters act out extraordinarily under ordinary situations is only cute the first few times. I truly have nothing good to say about "The Part About the Critics" and I find it most displeasing to hear other reviewers favorably compare Bolaño to Proust and Nabokov.
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LibraryThing member solla
[2666] by [[Roberto Bolaño]]

This book is divided into five sections, and Bolaño had actually given instructions that it should be published as five books, thinking that would be more financially successful for his children, as he knew that he was dying. I am glad that the book was not divided up,
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as I suspect that the whole is stronger than the sum of the individual parts, depite that, in some ways, they are very loosely associated.

The center of the novel is Benno von Archimboldi, a German novelist, whom we do not meet until the final section and only know that he is very tall, and that his novels are now receiving some recognition.

Section one revolves around four people who become friends through their interest in the novelist. There are three men (Espinoza, Pelletier and Morini), Morini is ill and eventually confined to a wheelchair, and one woman (Norton). The section is about their relationship, although that is given a context by thier interest in Archimboldi. At one point they go to Mexico, the town of St. Theresa. I don't know if this town truly exists, but it is, in the novel, near the border with the U.S. and is macquilador town - macquiladors being factories that exist for the purpose of producing goods for export. They may have existed before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but many sprang up as a result of that to take advantage of cheap Mexican labor to produce goods for export to the U.S. The events of this section have mainly to do with the relationships, some sexual, between the four of them, who are together in groups of four, two and three. It is engrossing throughout. There is one incident where Espinoza and Pelletier behave savagely, while Norton witnesses and protests, but does not intervene decisively. Although intrigued, I didn't find myself feeling getting caught up in the lives of these four people. It was really only in the final section of the book that my feelings were really caught up and I cared about the characters. That may be overstated, but it wasn't until then that my feelings were very strong. Yet, I was compelled by the entire book, and never felt like abandoning it. The depictions of the characters were deep and expressive, despite the sense of a little distance, perhaps as if the story is being told from a distance in the future.

While they were in Mexico, their guide was a man named Amalfitano, and the second section is anchored by his story. I say anchored because throughout the entire book there are numerous inter related side stories throughout the novel. The side stories never detracted from the whole for me, but seemed to enrich it even more. Thinking, perhaps of [100 years of Solitude] where there seems to be a story that repeats itself with different characters, I would say this novel is not like that. The characters, even minor one, maintain their distinctness. The second section tells the story of how Amalfitano came to be in Mexico with his daughter, Rosa, and what happened to his wife earlier when they lived in San Cugat (near Barcelona) in Spain. Parts are told from the point of view of his wife, Lola, who has a someone unstable personality, and part from Amalfitano's, who is also having some unusual experiences now that he is in Mexico with his almost grown daughter.

Part three begins with a writer who works for a Black newspaper, Fate, hearing about the death of his mother. He deals with that in rather a low key manner, though not emotionless, more with a sense of detached emotion. Later we see him on an assignment in Detroit involving a former member of the Black Panthers. This section connects with the earlier ones in that the sportswriter for the paper dies, and while Fate is in Detroit he is recruited to cover a boxing match in Mexico for the paper. While there he hears about a series of murders of women that have taken place in St. Theresa. This is through a female reporter who is to meet with a German, very tall, arrested for the murders - and still awaiting trial, though the murders have continued while he waits in jail. She asks him to come with her. She didn't choose to cover the murders, but was assigned by her paper, and she is terrified. Fate, hanging out with other sportwriters he also meets some of the powers of the town of St. Theresa, and through them he also gets involved with Rosa, the daughter of Amalfitano. At the end of the section Fate is fleeing from St. Theresa with Rosa, whose father has asked Fate to take her to the U.S. and then put her on a plane to Spain.

Part four is about the murders of women in St. Theresa. A great deal of the chapter simply tells, murder by murder, what is known of the stories of these women. Some are more involved than others. It is as if the section is saying that these lives and deaths cannot pass without at least an enumeration. Intertwined are a number of stories, mostly about policemen who are involved in the case. There is one about a policeman who initially investigates someone who is desecrating churches, eventually killing some people who try to stop them, and this policeman's involvement with the head of a mental hospital whom he encountered during his investigation. There is another about the tall German arrested for the murders, who owned a computer store. Another is about a young recruit to the police. Some of the murders told about are not the work of the serial killer or killers, but jealous husbands, etc. There are numerous accounts of investigations of the murders that are, most likely, those of the serial killer(s), but there is little sense of resolution. Within it is a sense of the power structure of St. Theresa, and some sense of a menace or hostility towards women that is independent of the murders (or perhaps creates the climate of the murders).

It is in part five, that the book actually becomes about the story of Benno von Archimboldi, who starts out with another name. Although, the style of writing doesn't change - there is still perhaps the sense of a slight remove, perhaps in time, and the intertwining of stories - but in this section I really became engrossed in the main characters and what happens to them. This is Archiboldi himself, and Ingeborg, with whom he falls in love. Some other characters we learn a lot about are the Archiboldi's book publisher, and his sister, and we meet again the German in the prison in Mexico. Ingeborg is actually present only in part of this section, very small in proportion to the whole, yet, for me, she was the heart of the book and the one that I cared the most about. I don't know how I would have reacted to the story of section five without the rest. I suspect it still would have been engrossing and have captured me, but all the rest provides depth and reverberation.

The novel is 900 pages long, but well worth it. I expect I will read it again before too long, a lot more slowly. This was a library copy with the need to finish before the three weeks was up. I highly recommend it.
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LibraryThing member scofer
My words will not be able to do 2666 justice or even begin to be able to describe the experience of reading it. Absolutely incredible. Mindblowing. Brilliant. An intricate weave of seemingly (at first blush) unrelated stories. Layer upon layer of stories within stories. Like scurrying down a rabbit
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hole with random, diverging and converging paths. Or peeling an onion. Or playing with a seemingly endless matryoshka doll to find the next doll more fascinating than the last. Perhaps the only helpful thing I can add in this unhelpful review would be a recommendation to buy the version of the book that is broken down into three separate volumes rather than one large book. The ~900 pages are somehow less daunting that way. 2666 is a masterpiece. Truly.
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LibraryThing member DavidGoldsteen
This work has gotten tremendous press, and good feedback from LibraryThing members. I found it a disappointment.

The biggest problem in the book is its tone. Bolano uses an omniscient, detached narrative voice. This would be perfect if the author had a sense of humor, but he has none on display.
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Instead, this style serves to keep you distant from the characters, who seem like cardboard authorial constructs. You never care about them.

The book is long, and some parts really feel it. The book is divided into five parts, and as it becomes clear that they are loosely related, but not building to anything, it becomes a real slog. I think this may be Bolano's point -- something about how we can't know each other or the truth or something "deep" but it really hampers the novel as an artistic work. You should never wonder "why am I reading this?" but you do.
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LibraryThing member henryarnheim
Oh what a magnificent book. The sort of book we should be reading as this bruised and battered decade draws to its close. Meta-fictive, mulit-layered, profound, desperate. I just loved it.
LibraryThing member Poindextrix
Bolaño's 2666 has received monumental praise. Much of it is justified, but some of it, I think, is exaggerated due to the fact that he died soon after completing the book.

I found parts of the book incredibly interesting, but other parts felt disjointed and I found them difficult to get through. I
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guess my main complaint is that this did not feel like one cohesive work. The introduction states that Bolaño wanted it to be published as 5 separate books, but after his death, his family and publisher decided to publish it as one final work. As some other reviews mention, it doesn't feel like 2666 was complete at the time of Bolaño's death, and if that is truly the case, then perhaps bringing cohesion and tying all five parts together was one of the final steps that Bolaño did not reach.
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LibraryThing member KarenDuff
I've finally finished this, and the only reason I did is because I hate giving up on a book.

Nearly nine hundred pages and I couldn't tell you with any certainty what this book was about. There was something about an author and lots of women being murdered in Mexico, a few of which were committed
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by the author's nephew. Some of the victims in time honoured tradition were murdered by their boyfriend or husband. Most of the murders are never solved, most of the victims are never identified and the local police couldn't care less even when the vicitms are children.

All in all I fail to see, as usual, why the critics have raved about this. I would not recommend it.
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LibraryThing member baubie
This book is consuming, long, exhaustive, boring, easy to read, extreme, excessive, intimate, etc. It's everything and that's not surprising weighing in at 898 pages.
LibraryThing member Dalan
By turns this book is funny, tender, horrible, but always surprising and there's never a compromise with the truth. It has much to say about violence, corruption, incompetence, and frail human best efforts, which include writing and reading. Magnum opus!
LibraryThing member giovannigf
Really great. Uneven at points, but none of it bad. It's novels like these that the term "tour de force" was invented for. I don't understand the reviewers who say it's difficult - painful, yes, because the subject matter is so dark, but the style is clear and unpretentious.
LibraryThing member Carl_Hayes
“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
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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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LibraryThing member gwalklin
This novel is thoroughly brilliant, puzzling, elusive, fantastic, and full of such life and energy and love of literature itself. It's infectious. It makes you read all over new again, to see the life in the pages you missed before. It's indelible in both a phenomenal and a horrible way --
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confronting you with the despicable iniquity in "Santa Teresa" in a form that's ultimately going to be inadequate to confront. Bolaño was without a doubt the finest living writer before he died, and this book may just be the finest novel of the decade I've read (presuming we count "The Savage Detectives" as the 1990s, where it'd duke out the title with "Infinite Jest." Only a very few writers change how I look at novels--Melville, Wallace, McCarthy -- and Bolaño is one of them.
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LibraryThing member janeajones
When I opened the LT ER package with 2666, my heart sank just a bit. It's SO big, I thought. It sat on my TBR pile for a month. I'm usually right on top of ER books -- I feel responsible to those who send them to me. However, my life at this point in time just does not have room for a 900 page
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tome. so I gifted it to a friend. I promise, I shall return -- sometime before 2666.
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LibraryThing member iffland
Took me a while to finish this monument but it was totally worth it. Bolano generates a very special world that is sometimes very cruel but very often full of love to literacy. I would lie if I wouldn´t say that I wished after a hundred pages describing rape and homicide that I can skip some of
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these murders but maybe it´s the school of hard knocks that you need to totally understand it (I guess I had the same feeling at American Psycho).
In the end i totally felt rewarded and i can totally recommend this book to every book lover that is also up for a little bit of mystery. If you like Murakami you will also like this one.
It´s a bit sad that Bolano died shortly afterwards.
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LibraryThing member JimElkins
This is not the masterpiece so many people say it is. That impression, I think, occurs mostly to people who have not written fiction. The book is very loose, with episodes that should be tighter, and some that should be longer. I think Bolaño thought that the wandering prose and insouciance about
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structure was a way of breaking out of the usual timid fictional modes. Ignacio Echevarría picks out the crucial passage on p. 896; it's the only passage in the novel that clearly announces Bolaño's ambitions for the novel.

If you are not a writer, you can test this by asking yourself about the "Part about Amalfitano." It develops an acute psychological portrait of Amalfitano, centering on a book he puts on a clothesline. It is a striking invention, but it is not complete. Does its incompletion--we leave Amalfitano in an unresolved state--do anything for the architecture of the book? Is it necessary to leave it incomplete in order to propel the larger narrative? I think this is a writer's issue: Bolaño was developing his sympathies with Amalfitano as he went along, and at some point he couldn't get further into the character, so he changed the subject. There is nothing profound about that, no great plan, no narrative experimentation. It's just a small, ordinary failure of writing.

A friend once told me a story about Pynchon: he sent a copy of "Gravity's Rainbow" to his old university professor, with the note, "Is this tight enough for you?" This isn't tight enough for me, despite many wonderful inventions.
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LibraryThing member JechtShot
2666 was a massive undertaking that took me about 4 months to complete. Bolano's writing is extraordinary, but my problem is that much of it went straight over my head, circumnavigated the globe, and went over my head again. Quite frankly, the IQ of this book is higher than mine. To truly
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understand much of the novel I think you need to be well educated in ALL of the following: Philosophy (all schools), Literature (global), Art, Geography and history. With a solid background in all of these areas of study, this book is likely magnificent. The parts I understood were enjoyable, but unfortunately that was probably only half of the 900+ pages contained within.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
This could be the best book I've ever read. I'll have to think about it - and I know I will because I've never read anything quite like this, I really haven't, not since Moby Dick at any rate.

Bolano's sprawling masterpiece could have lasted another thousand pages and still gone nowhere, and I would
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have loved it just as much. The characters are so intriguing, and I was always fascinated, even when the story took surprising and unusual turns. It's impossible, really, to say what it's about without relating everything that's written - so all I can say is that you should read it too.
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LibraryThing member inaudible
Finished Vol. 1 on 11/25/09

The first volume of this epic novel is very good As a hopeless bibliophile, I am drawn to fiction that is literary in both subject and style. I love novels that talk about and obsess over books. Like the rest of Bolaño's work, there is a lot of that here, and it is
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wonderful. I hope I am not the only person who dreams of von Archiboldi being real.

But books and literature are not the focus of this novel. Violence is the focus of this novel. The center of gravity is Santa Teresa (Ciudad Juárez), and the center of gravity in Santa Teresa is a pattern of torture, abduction, and murder of hundreds of women. The city name is changed, but the murders are very real and still happening. Bolaño paints them in a terrifying light, though they remain just out of focus. In the subsequent volumes of the novel, they will be thrust forward, forcing us to stare into the inhuman, if only on the safety of the page.

(Some complain that this novel is fragmented and sloppy, but I disagree, so far.)

Finished Vol. 2 on 1/11/2010

The second volume of 2666 might be the most intensely disturbing book ever penned. It chronicles the rape and murder of countless women in Santa Theresa (Ciudad Juárez), one after the other, in the dry, detached style of a newspaper article or police report. Each murder is investigated or not investigated by the police. Evidence is lost. Men are arrested, interrogated, tortured, and imprisoned. The murders continue.

Between these deaths we follow the lives of policeman, a Mexican politician who friend disappears, the first man charged and imprisoned for the murders, local reporters, and others. It becomes clear that the state and the narcos are responsible for the murders (or at least responsible for covering up whoever is responsible), but the violence against women is so generalized it is hard to pin down any single culprit.

This is the oasis of horror in a desert of boredom. Bolaño's prose is masterful, and the novel continues to hold together, despite its length and scope and brutality.

Finished vol. 3 on 1/17/2010

Holy shit. The final volume of this novel moves from amazing to astonishing. We return to von Archiboldi and follow him through WW2, Nazism, and post-war Germany. We go through the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist purges. And it all comes back to Mexico and the killings in Santa Theresa.

The scope of this novel is ridiculously large, but it never breaks apart or becomes incoherent. It bridges the 20th and 21st centuries. It marks out a radicalism devoid of hope or false solutions and sets the bar really fucking high for every other writer this century.

With only slight hesitation, I can say that this is the best work of fiction I have ever read
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Original language


Original publication date

2004 (Original Spanish)
2009 (Nederlands)

Physical description

1093 p.; 22 cm


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