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2666: A Novel Hardcover – November 11, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 264 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: It was one thing to read Roberto Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives last year and have your mind thrilled and expanded by a sexy, meandering masterpiece born whole into the English language. It was still another to read it and know, from the advance reports of Spanish readers, that Bolaño's true masterpiece was still to come. And here it is: 2666, the 898-page novel he sprinted to finish before his early death in 2003, again showing Bolaño's mesmerizing ability to spin out tale after tale that balance on the edge between happy-go-lucky hilarity and creeping dread. But where the motion of The Savage Detectives is outward, expanding in wider and wider orbit to collect everything about our lonely world, 2666, while every bit as omnivorous, ratchets relentlessly toward a dark center: the hundreds of mostly unsolved murders of women in the desert borderlands of maquiladoras and la migra in northern Mexico. He takes his time getting there--he tells three often charming book-length tales before arriving at the murders--but when he does, in a brutal and quietly strange landscape where neither David Lynch nor Cormac McCarthy's Anton Chigurh would feel out of place, he writes with a horror that is both haunting and deeply humane. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Last year's The Savage Detectives by the late Chilean-Mexican novelist Bolaño (1953–2003) garnered extraordinary sales and critical plaudits for a complex novel in translation, and quickly became the object of a literary cult. This brilliant behemoth is grander in scope, ambition and sheer page count, and translator Wimmer has again done a masterful job. The novel is divided into five parts (Bolaño originally imagined it being published as five books) and begins with the adventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist. They trace the writer to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa (read: Juarez), but there the trail runs dry, and it isn't until the final section that readers learn about Benno and why he went to Santa Teresa. The heart of the novel comes in the three middle parts: in The Part About Amalfitano, a professor from Spain moves to Santa Teresa with his beautiful daughter, Rosa, and begins to hear voices. The Part About Fate, the novel's weakest section, concerns Quincy Fate Williams, a black American reporter who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a prizefight and ends up rescuing Rosa from her gun-toting ex-boyfriend. 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; a panorama of the power system that is either covering up for the real criminals with its implausible story that the crimes were all connected to a German national, or too incompetent to find them (or maybe both); and it is a collection of the stories of journalists, cops, murderers, vengeful husbands, prisoners and tourists, among others, presided over by an old woman seer. It is safe to predict that no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 898 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374100144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374100148
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (264 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Balbach on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`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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Format: Hardcover
I, like most other readers, was first intrigued by the reviews of this book. From The New York Times and The New Yorker all the way down to my local paper, everyone had something to say about it. Dreamlike, epic, worldly, etc.

I don't normally purchase books, but I purchased this one.

I adored the first part, the second part, the last part, but the third part left me cold and confused and the fourth part, as you may have gathered thus far, is a collage of police response, political response, and personal responses to the hundreds of murders on the Mexico/US border.

I felt as though Bolano was trying to weave together his ability to write the personal narrative of a few characters, his ability to write almost fairy tale-like history, and an objective, raw account of reality. Instead of weaving them together, though, he placed them side-by-side, a sort of sampler plate of Bolano's abilities. It meant that most readers will most likely enjoy only some of the five sections.

His knowledge and perspective are astounding. The prose, when meant to be, is unique, intriguing, whimsical, or completely emotionless and succinct. Definitely written for a modern audience, as, unlike past authors, Bolano doesn't stretch anything beyond necessity, doesn't linger on any side story unless it's something the reader will inevitably feel to be vital. He keeps up a swift pace.

I recommend reading it. I recommend it for the pithy little quotations, for the little things that tie each part together, details from one clarifying mysteries from another, for the feeling that you're being taken on a crazy journey across multiple continents throughout the twentieth century, for the fact that you, as a reader, are bound to adore at least one of the five sections.

It's not perfect. We know that Bolano didn't have the opportunity to give it the time it deserved. But it's worth your time.
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Format: Hardcover
According to Mrs. Bubis, wife of publisher Mr. Bubis, one of the only people alive that knew Benno von Archimboldi, "how well anyone could really know of another person's work?"

Reading "2666" by Roberto Bolaño, I feel the same way. It has been quite a journey for the English reader with a talent of his kind. From "By Night in Chile" to the chilling "Romantic Dogs," (which I finished a week before this novel) to "2666," one of Bolaño's "longer" works, preceded by the fantastic "Savage Detectives."

Much has been written (and will be) concerning this novel (see the great reviews, beginning with the one in the New York Times). In short, and without giving too much away, the story revolves around five intervals, which Bolano wanted to be released separately (in 5 year increments), involving a cast of characters as thick as the book itself. Part 1 (About the Critics) concerns four critics: Jean-Claude Pelletier from France, Manuel Espinoza from Spain, Piero Morini of Italy, and Liz Norton who, through their love of Archimboldi, come together and discuss and revel in the mysterious nature of the man. Part 2 (About Amalfitano) and Part 3 (About Fate) concerns a Chilean college professor, Amalfitano, and his dealings with his daughter and a strange geometry books; and an African-American, Quincy Williams aka Fate, who takes a assignment in Mexico covering a boxing match, which soon gets derailed due to his interest in the murders of the women detailed in the next chapter. Part 4 (About the Crimes) concerns the cornerstone of the novel, the parts tying all these people together: the murders of women, detailed by Bolaño, in the city of Santa Teresa (Cuidad Juárez) in the Sonora Desert in Northern Mexico on the US border.
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