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2666

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2666

Postby rrnate » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:34 pm

So, has anyone read 2666 by Roberto Bolano? It's kind of nutso, but I'm really liking it.
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Re: 2666

Postby Velvet Coffin » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:53 pm

I live my life in crippling suspicion of bright young lauded authors so you can imagine the eyelid twitching and aluminum foil cap wearing with which I greeted Bolano's posthumous praise in the English-reading world. But since the dude in question was already dead, and therefore unlikely to go Safran Foer-smug on our asses, I took a dear friend's recommendation and borrowed The Savage Detectives.

Is it cool if I just threadjack your topic to discuss that book? Thanks. You're a peach.

It's prose about poetry, a narrative of multiple narrators, and I swear to god the primary characters are MacGuffins. I had to come down off that book like coming down off a night of partying. Literature hangover. But thank god, it wasn't unapproachable or snooty, not like the critical fawning led me to believe it might be. It was instead a rich story of idealistic young artists adding layers of voices and views to their sordid Mexico City lives. Or maybe it was about the state of Latin American poetry. Quite possibly it was about two particular rebellious poets. Or maybe it was just about life. History? Fuck if I can pinpoint the intended takeaway point; I just know I liked it and I don't even give a damn about Mexico, poets, or critical fawning.

James Joyce said Ulysses chronicled life not through the idealized lens of high literature but through a faithful recounting of its wet, messy, shit-stained bits. That kind of "scrupulous meanness" isn't too far from what Bolano does here.

I will totally read 2666. Someday.
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Re: 2666

Postby rrnate » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:32 pm

Wow, that's pretty much spot on - I'm pretty sure the characters in 2666 are also Macguffins. I read the Savage Detectives a while back and so I kind of new what I was getting in to, but I read that while I was on some fairly heavy pain medicine (for a broken leg) so I thought the whole "hangover" feeling that seems to be Bolano's thing was more from that, but it's really not. I haven't enjoyed a book this much in quite a while where I've considered quitting several times but haven't. (I think around page 450 or so I got stopped thinking those thoughts.)

I'd also agree that the praise he gets is a little offputing - it's really, really positive while also being weirdly nonspecific. That being said, I can see how it's pretty hard to get that specific with this writing.
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Re: 2666

Postby jordan » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:36 pm

I think a lot of the characters in 2666 aren't MacGuffins (I'd never thought of a character as a MacGuffin before, but it sort of makes sense in Savage Detectives) so much as red herrings, at least in part IV. He toys with all of these characters that in a movie or another type of book would be saviors -- the loner cop who's teaching himself criminology, the FBI expert profiler, the obsessive reporter who starts getting tips, etc. Even the weirdly charismatic serial killer suspect. But it's not that kind of story, obv...after awhile I sort of realized that he's not even looking for answers so much as circling around this sense of horror/death/emptiness (in all the sections, not just the Santa Theresa story).

The ubiquity of good reviews doesn't bother me at all, but it's kinda weird how most of those only talk about part IV. I'd agree that it's the thematic core of the book, but parts I and V were my favorites by far. And I almost couldn't believe how unifying and satisfying the ending was.
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Re: 2666

Postby rrnate » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:00 am

jordan wrote:I think a lot of the characters in 2666 aren't MacGuffins (I'd never thought of a character as a MacGuffin before, but it sort of makes sense in Savage Detectives) so much as red herrings, at least in part IV. He toys with all of these characters that in a movie or another type of book would be saviors -- the loner cop who's teaching himself criminology, the FBI expert profiler, the obsessive reporter who starts getting tips, etc. Even the weirdly charismatic serial killer suspect. But it's not that kind of story, obv...after awhile I sort of realized that he's not even looking for answers so much as circling around this sense of horror/death/emptiness (in all the sections, not just the Santa Theresa story).

The ubiquity of good reviews doesn't bother me at all, but it's kinda weird how most of those only talk about part IV. I'd agree that it's the thematic core of the book, but parts I and V were my favorites by far. And I almost couldn't believe how unifying and satisfying the ending was.


A few points...

1. OK, you're right, "red herring" really is a better description.

2. Yeah, to me it really seems to be about A) emptiness and B) dread. It reminds me of my favorite David Lynch movies (and it really cracked me up when he brings up Lynch) in that it's just so filled with dread - I don't think I've ever read a book with such a heavy dread-sense before.

3. Part I was definitely my least favorite part - I think Part III (with the crazy, crazy night out) was my favorite, as I found it the most relatable.

4. Alright, I'm going to finish soon - I'll let you know if I get mad satisfaction from the ending. I can't possibly imagine how this book is going to "wrap up" right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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