Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Well, thirty-five hours later I have finished listening to the audiobook of Roberto Bolaño's 2666. The book started with a group of literary critics searching for an author who did not want to be found by a group of literary critics. Then that section ended and we got into a couple of parts about the serial killings of women in northern Mexico. Then the last sections had to do with the author, his sister, and her son.

And then it ended.

Good writing, and all that. And lots of it. The book is nine-hundred pages in print. And a great reputation. Lots of folks raved about this book.

Why, oh, why?

It was well written. The literary critics' part was a lot of fun, for folks who find that world amusing. The serial killing part was a grim recitation of the real-life events going on in Mexico. The last part had a bunch of well-researched WWII information. Put it all together and you get...

Well-reviewed literary fiction. Which I read and mostly like. I'm trying to read the best that's out there. I want to understand why some books are celebrated and others are pulped. And this one was the talk of the town. But when it ended, I must have had the same look on my face that a dog gets when it hears a high-pitched noise. Wait, what?

My favorite single part of the book was the eight-minute-long afterward. I was told that the title referred to the year 2666, which lay in the future for each of the five sections of the novel. This, I was told, leant each section perspective.

Whatever. I was also told that the unusual ending, which came along as though mid-sentence, was exactly what Bolaño had in mind. No, he wrapped up 2666 just before his early demise, but it is what he wanted. It's over, finished, done. If you think it sounds cut off, it's because you are an inexperienced reader and unworthy. Go read his The Savage Detectives. You'll see.

Which was excellent, because I happen to know that Bolaño's family recently found a sixth section of 2666. How finished does that sucker sound now, o critics? Put that in your postmodern not-a-pipe and smoke it.

I've downloaded The Savage Detectives for my next listen. Sigh.

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