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276 of 315 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A writers novel, November 19, 2008
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This review is from: 2666: A Novel (Hardcover)
`2666` is a writers novel, best appreciated by academics (or so inclined) and other writers, often commenting on itself, the craft of writing and the creative process. For the average reader the ending lacks coherence, seemingly 900 pages of often depressing anecdotal tangents about death. It's a generous work in that regard, there are 100s of stories, within stories, most of them entertaining and worth reading, but characteristic of Bolano, they don't really "end" in any traditionally satisfying way - one doesn't read this novel to find out what happens - although paradoxically, mystery is what drives the book forward.

Bolano successfully breaks one of the basic rules of fiction writing - rather than showing what happens, he tells what happens, like a journalist. Thus he is able to say as much in one paragraph that others take in a chapter. Bolano says as much in 900 pages that might normally take 2500. He does not use line breaks and quotes for dialog (except in book 5), so there are often long blocks of text with no white space - it's a 900 page novel of high word count, but smooth reading. Ironically I never felt I was wasting my time, as if every detail mattered, even though I guess none of it did, all of it did.

The novel is certainly an investment of time and energy. I would recommend it to anyone interested in European avant-garde literature, Latin American literature, literature in translation and a sprawling kind of dreamy (strange) ambiguous work resistant to classification and open to interpretations.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 19, 2008 8:24:18 PM PST
"Ironically I never felt I was wasting my time, as if every detail mattered, even though I guess none of it did, all of it did."

I like that. I would like to agree, after reading, I felt the same. I think you're right about the level of success that will find with mainstream readers - from them, the biggest complaint is the lack of white space and the paragraphs (which for those who like the style is a good thing). Makes you wonder what the final product could have been...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2008 1:29:02 PM PST
I usually have problems with books that do those long unbroken paragraphs. When Jose Saramago does it in his work, I can't stand it, some of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's (Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Melancholy Whore, and I can't remeber the other one, read beautiful. The Autumn of the Partriach just felt convulte ), books that take it to the extreme, I can't stand it, Infinite Jest, hated it, but I didn't hate it the few times it appeared in Broom of the System (Felt Natural). A lot of times I feel as if they're doing the long paragraphs simply for a statement of style. This is my style, my way of writing, blah blah blah. For him, it just flowed. Though he'd hate the comparision, Isabel Allende, it felt like it was just written for it. Jack Kerouac's books felt that way. And though I didn't like it, Faulkner's Absalom Absalom felt more as if it was written and turned out in long paragraphs and sentences then that it was written to have long paragraphs and sentences, same as Pylon.

This book impressed upon me, singing beautifully in the melancholy whispers of violence and destruction.

Posted on Nov 29, 2008 8:12:52 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2008 6:34:02 AM PST
Dear Fernando B. Silbestre:
The correct spelling is "typical" (but perhaps you misspelled it intentionally, see below). Having never read Dan Brown, it is unclear who is being compared to Brown: the reviewer, the two previous "reader commentary", or is it a self-deprecating post-modernist-like "commentary" on itself ie. typical Dan Brown readers leave comments that say "Tipical Dan Brown reader commentary!!!" (with misspellings, lots of exclamation marks, and a small unresolved mystery). It is very confusing - yet I hope there is no closure, it would be appropriate for 2666 to leave it unanswered.

Posted on Dec 5, 2008 8:35:45 PM PST
Thanks for this excellent review and "heads up" on the style.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2008 1:03:21 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2008 7:54:45 AM PST
"j michael rowland",

I believe one is supposed to capitalize proper nouns, including your own name.

It is a tired old game and not so fun, one can go on forever, but no doubt you would win as I have a greater "body of work" to draw from, and no pretensions of being a professional writer (other than a decent spell checker). Hopefully though we will treat each other a little more kindly online, where text is more akin to conversation. It's one thing to ask for clarification, another to be a stickler over common mistakes. The comment I made above to Silbestre was appropriate given that it truly is incomprehensible who and what is being addressed - it is more than just a nag on English usage, it reveals something about 2666, the main reason people are reading this thread. If you can add something to the conversation about 2666 it would be great. Since you are a professional editor (I assume?) perhaps you would like to comment on the authors intentional 3 or 4 page run-on sentence in book 1. Is this a rebellious author bucking the establishment, or a high brow academic using post-modern tricks?

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 12:07:42 PM PST
j.t.p. says:
just curious; what part of this did you not understand?

"The Part About the Crimes, the longest and most haunting section, operates on a number of levels: it is a tormented catalogue of women murdered and raped in Santa Teresa;"

Seems pretty clear to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2009 12:43:56 PM PST
j.t.p.
That blurb is mistaken, the entire novel is about corruption (in many senses), decay and death - not just "The Part About the Crimes". But please don't confuse me with that 1-star reviewer who had a problem with that, I have no problem with authors who explore literary themes. It's particularly fitting given the authors nearness to death, his body corrupt and decaying, it's parts (organs) becoming individual pieces less than the whole, sort of like the novel itself, sliced open and the organs spilled out for all to see, shifting the gaze back and forth between a single body and its parts.

Posted on Jan 10, 2009 12:21:35 PM PST
I think this reviewer is right on as to what type of novel this is and who is most likely to enjoy it. I'm happy I invested the time because the writing is so excellent and rich and and it fits with my love of all things post-modern and multi-layered. That said, the novel is definitely more "fox" and less "hedgehog" in its coherence so if you don't like to digress and meander through stories within stories and if you expect a wrap up of all plot lines, it's probably not for you. Even a writer as wonderful as Bolano could use a great editor and I think the editorial touch was too light given this posthumous publication. Parts I and V are spell-binding. Part II and Part III could have used a greater editorial hand.
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