318 of 361 people found the following review helpful
A writers novel
, November 19, 2008
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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