A Cuatro Profesores De Literatura, Pelletier, Morini, Espinoza Y Norton, Los Une Su Fascinaci N Por La Obra De Beno Von Archimboldi, Un Enigm Tico Escritor Alem N Cuyo Prestigio Crece En Todo El Mundo La Complicidad Se Vuelve Vodevil Intelectual Y Desemboca En Un Peregrinaje A Santa Teresa Trasunto De Ciudad Ju Rez , Donde Hay Quien Dice Que Archimboldi Ha Sido Visto Ya All , Pelletier Y Espinoza Se Enteran De Que La Ciudad Es Desde A Os Atr S Escenario De Una Larga Cadena De Cr Menes En Los Vertederos Aparecen Cad Veres De Mujeres Con Se Ales De Haber Sido Violadas Y Torturadas Es El Primer Asomo De La Novela A Sus Procelosos Caudales, Repletos De Personajes Memorables Cuyas Historias, A Caballo Entre La Risa Y El Horror, Abarcan Dos Continentes E Incluyen Un Vertiginoso Travelling Por La Historia Europea Del Siglo XX Confirma El Veredicto De Susan Sontag El M S Influyente Y Admirado Novelista En Lengua Espa Ola De Su Generaci N Su Muerte, A Los Cincuenta A Os, Es Una Gran P Rdida Para La Literatura Somewhere inside this extraordinary oasis, some critics of literature proclaim that a specific book under discussion is hard to follow, chaotic, half finished, suspect This type of cheeky self evaluation, so incredibly hidden and almost non existent is what makes Bola o a worthy candidate for any of the major global literature prizes A fellow classmate said that this was as daunting, as time consuming, as reading El Quixote, but I would like to add that the epic convention from Cervantes which was for all future writers to follow is also an innovation mirrored with 2666 here is what new literature really means what this all means is a restlessness to render only certain themes, certain tableaux and neofables, no longer in neat, ordered, restricted packages Write what you want to write about of course always looking at the heavens with glossy eyes at the past Gods of Literature screw any expectations and conventions Bola o is like Virginia Woolf than Garcia Marquez in case anyone is wondering therefore utterly brilliant A friend said that it is the epilogue of 2666 which explains its greatness, and this is far from the truth I cannot really find the tragedy of Bola o s premature death all too prevalent in the book 2666 is about pretty much everything that does not deal with death, too Also, Bola o is the only writer to have ever, in my estimation, emulated the great Marquis de Sade in his infamous book within 2666 about the murders in Mexico and its crazed logic which no one can solve It is absolutely organic and I love the fact that the titular number is mentioned 0 times in the novel although it is explained, somewhat, sorta, in Amulet Cloud Atlas is neatly connected 2666 only gets to connections by coincidence, just as in life it is THAT organic , like in true, harrowing life, there are dreams oracles, strangeness and beauty and ugliness, almost always the trio of these found in one Bola o s magnum opus is wondrous, really very beautiful a strange and rare fruit for gems last forever, and this is almost a prolonged, though intangible, feeling. I hate these star ratings I m docking this baby one, because I honestly don t believe there s any way he was finished This book wasn t done I didn t read the Introduction and I m not clear on the back story, but my vague understanding is that Bola o died after sending this thing to his publisher, who claims it was ready to go, but seriously, man, I just can t believe that This book is almost great Parts of it are totally mindblowing, but the fact of the matter is, I m convinced that it needed one serious edit The thing wasn t done, and that s absolutely the most negative thing I can say about it The most positive thing is probably that as I drew near to finishing this somewhat bloat er, sprawling 900 page mass of woodpulp, I began experiencing a strong sense that once I d finished, I d like to start over from the beginning and read the whole thing again So yeah, 2666, unfinished though it may be, is that good It s that good, and it s that flawed, and so what can you do The poor guy died So I can t really get mad at him about it, because some circumstances are beyond any author s control It s sad, but it s true.So yes, 2666 I haven t reviewed a book in awhile, and I m trying to remember how this thing works Well, the book is kind of three people on here say five, but to me it seemed like three novels that are linked and overlapping in places but which are also clearly distinct from one another The first section is about four academics a Frenchman, an Italian, a Spaniard and a Brit walk into a conference who are united through their passion for Archimboldi, an elusive and mysterious German novelist The academics pursuit of this writer leads them to a fictionalized Mexican border city, which is plagued by an epidemic of gruesome, mostly unsolved murders of women The second major part and this was where I struggled, because the combination of highly disturbing and dully redundant can get hard to take takes place in this Ju rez stand in, and contains a brutal, relentless catalogue of raped and murdered women s bodies that goes on for literally hundreds of pages The last section of the book follows the writer Archimboldi throughout his life, including his time in the German army during World War II Okay, so I m oversimplifying, but that s the basic structure of 2666.Before I get to what I love most about Bola o, I d like to say what I love second most, and that s that I consider him to be probably the greatest straight male feminist writer that I can think of I don t know how based in reason this opinion is, and I can picture losing an argument with someone who wanted to challenge me, but that s just the way I felt while reading this and The Savage Detectives On a very basic, purely emotional level, I just love the way this guy writes about women, though I don t even know that I can explain why It s very clearly from a male perspective, and I feel that he writes about his female characters with a certain romanticized removal, which should be a problem, but for some reason I just love it I love it I also think this book, especially the part in the middle, which I didn t really like, about the based in fact serial murders, is a feminist text It makes for an interesting contrast with Ellroy s My Dark Places, which covers some similar ground women being raped and murdered, and a subverted detective story but where Ellroy gets lost in the oedipal glamour of all that violence, Bola o takes a stark look at the economics and wider misogyny of a society and forces us to see the pages of raped and strangled young factory workers for what they are, without any romance or horseshit whatsoever.Which gets me to what I really love best about this writer put simply and meaninglessly, the way he writes about all the bad and good things of this world Oh gee it might be impossible for me to say just what I mean But I guess I have to try, right That s why we re all here, yeah I, like at least 99% of the human race, find it extremely difficult to live in this world Even when things are dandy for me, my vague awareness of the incomprehensible magnitude of brutality and suffering on earth remains nearly unbearable most of the time Of course, I am simultaneously so crushed and awed by the beauty and splendor of everything that I pretty much feel like screaming my head off almost all of the time So, I know it sounds a little weird spelled out like so, but I assume that a lot of people feel this way, and I gotta imagine this is just one basic aspect of human experience It s just the classic position between a rock and a hard place, or maybe like being suspended between two equally powerful magnets, at this magical point of painfully vibrating stasis, where the unstoppable force of, say, I dunno, genocide, meets the immovable object of sorry, this is dumb love or whatever You know what I mean Like, everything is always so terrible that you just want to die But everything is always so wonderful that you can t bear the thought of dying And that s how we live, every day, and it s nuts Okay, you re muttering now Enough with your mixed metaphors, Jessica What on earth are you trying to tell us about Roberto Bola o s novel 2666 Well, fine Bola o is again, please excuse me a reader s writer I believe he really gets that good literature is the over the counter medication that can temporarily relieve the symptoms of this agonizing and incurable condition in which we all find ourselves A lot of writers know this, and so they try to write about tragedy and cruelty but also the joy of being alive, but obviously doing this right is really pretty tricky, and IMHO Bola o pulls it off way better than most other people ever have.One reason why is that I think Bola o grasps how the pains of the world are not really so qualitatively different from its pleasures The way that Bola o writes about sex, I guess I d say to oversimplify is not all that different from the way he writes about death And that s how my experience of the world feels personally, so I can relate to his fiction, because it feels so familiar and true to me in that way I had an intense experience while reading this book a couple weeks ago, when I was having a difficult time at work One of my clients, a very young man, had unexpectedly just hanged himself, and this same day I went court with another very disturbed, unhappy, mentally ill client I know well, who was then dragged off to jail with self inflicted cuts all over his arms, while hysterically shouting out his innocence in open court All this is not my presenting social work war stories for laughs or attention, but just to say that on that day I was reading the Archimboldi section of the book on my long train ride to and from the courthouse, and I had an appreciation as great as any that I ve ever had, of the intersection between what I was living and what I was reading I don t mean the topics were at all similar, but that the experience was the same All of a sudden, the pain of living in the world, which I was feeling pretty acutely that day, became simultaneously palpable and bearable, and oh, I don t know, I probably started crying a bit on the train Or maybe I didn t, I don t really remember Anyway, this, to me, is what books are ultimately for, and this is the basic purpose of writing and reading, yeah Just on a simple utilitarian level, the horror and glory of living in this world is too vast to comprehend, much less to endure But a book even an oversized book in need of one harsh, exacting edit is a scaled down diorama, a travel sized package, a bite sized piece we can pick up and chew And in that moment, the untenable position of being torn apart by the excruciating contradiction of our lives is not unmanageable Or at least, it s soothed a little In any case, that was my experience with this book, and being as this is the main reason why I read, I guess I must ve loved it, at least in parts.Yeah, so anyway, I don t know, should I give it another star This book had some problems I thought the North American character was lame, and the whole Mexico section in the middle needed a ruthless edit Also, I don t believe that this book had a real ending, and I require a fabulous ending on such a long book At the same time, 2666 was great It was a far ambitious project than The Savage Detectives, but it was less perfectly realized I recommend this to anyone who can stomach hundreds of pages about women being brutally raped, tortured, and killed, who enjoys vast, loosely structured epic kind of things. 5 brilliant genius stars Nothing I write will do this book any justice I wish I had the time to write a deep thought provoking essay on this modern masterpiece but instead I will write a few words about how I felt about this book and how greatly it impacted me.This book hurt my brain and touched my heart It was magical, frightening, beautiful, harrowing, shocking, mesmerizing and exceptional At times this book entered my dreams at night and I pondered about it during the day It was as if the language and story swirled through my blood and went into my bone marrow I reflected on the world of the book and broadly at the world at large I sometimes would avoid reading it out of fear and other times for confirmation of the organized chaos that is life.Stories swirled within stories Connections between people, places and time were multi dimensional and random but then not random Language was seductive, frightening, enigmatic and cruel I felt my life view validated and then at the same time refuted often within the span of a few paragraphs.This book tore me apart but then thankfully reconfigured me sometimes for the better and sometimes not The book was gritty and mundane and then would swiftly become profound and wise so that I did not know where I stood within myself, my beliefs, art and the world This book challenged me and then devoured me and at the same time helped me understand both my mortality and my divinity.This book helped me tap into some of my inner wisdom but took away some of the light What is this book about Underneath a veneer of nobility lies a whole lot of animal and a whole lot of evil and despite this a whole lot of beauty.Unbelievable read but I don t know if I could do it again Rest in peace Mr Bolano. Bola o has not only smashed my expectations to smithereens, he has restored my faith in the brick sized novel of which I have never been a big fan 2666 was simply an astonishing reading experience, one that doesn t come along very often My wrists went through hell trying to hold the darn thing, and I was deprived of much needed sleep, but it was worth every moment Reading the last 50 pages or so at snail pace was inevitable, as I simply didn t want it to end Divided into five loosely connected sections, all of which could pass as singular novels as Bola o had intended before he sadly passed away, his last written work is one of huge scope and assurance, making even The Savage Detectives look small in comparison, his warm up act, or practice match for the mammoth that would follow Bola o infuses an almost mock documentary element to the novel, and begins in familiar territory for those who have read him before, with four literary critics from different European countries who are united by their obsession for the German novelist Benno von Archimboldi, of whom little is known, other than he is very tall, in his eighties, and disappeared sometime in early adulthood.Although there are many side stories tied in, where people come and go, some show up later, some don t, it s main focal point is that of the elusive German writer, and the mass killings of women in the border town of Santa Teresa, Mexico a fictional Ciudad Ju rez where Bola o became so obsessed by real murders he set about finding out everything he could about them In fact in the 4th section the part about the crimes, for nearly 300 tough pages he takes us through chronologically describing in a cold, harsh language of horrific detail the killings of so many young women I though it s title 2666 was referring to the total amount of women murdered, it just seemed to be never neverending This was without doubt the most uncomfortable and terrifying part of the novel, of which so many shady and unpleasant characters show up, you feel like bad crimes and death lurks constantly around every corner Bola o darkens the tone here, and drives forward an atmosphere of menace and dread It s easily the grisliest sequence in literature I have ever read, and yet, the most startling thing about the murderous rampage is, it is literature For it is easy to forget, as Bola o lays down his litany of carnage, that none of what he is describing really happened Although, something nearly identical to it did Bola o s Santa Teresa, and the women whose deaths he evokes so chillingly never actually existed, yet critics have rattled on for years about blurring fiction with reality, but it seems here that Bola o is doing something genuinely novel He deploys a technique of non fiction, like the police reports, or the forensic examinations, to describe something imaginary, but which nonetheless mirrors an actual sequence of real events This is neither fictionalised history or fictional documentary, but a kind of imaginative documentation of reality Here, as in the oral testimony sequence of The Savage Detectives, it is almost as if Bola o were attempting to carve out a new territory a third space, his space, between the real and the imagination.One thing I found with each section, is that it felt like it was written by a different writer each time, the first part was classic Bola o, the middle thirds, he could have been a seasoned American, but by the time we reach its final section the one I believe was superior in terms of the quality of his writing he felt like a classic European novelist Of course, it s in the closing parts of the final section, in which we return to Archimboldi that Bola o links together the killings in Santa Teresa and the German writer It doesn t surprise me having now read 2666, that Bola o, in his last ever interview, said that what he would have most liked to have been other than a writer was a homicide detective For all the great things I loved about the novel as whole, I will simply never forget the time he spent dissecting in great detail, the killings in Santa Teresa, and yet still, the parts about Archimboldi were also truly memorable One other thing that just stuck me, is that the novel felt like it was originally written in the English language and not Spanish, so the translator Natasha Wimmer deserves a literary Oscar for the exceptional fluency throughout There is so much I haven t even touched on yet, I wouldn t know where to start It s stunning work, that eclipses anything else I have read of this size Like others have mentioned, 2666 isn t perfect, but its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, to leave me completely in awe at his achievement of injecting new life into the epic novel, dazzling the literary world to show just what is possible. With as much creative energy as Joyce s Ulysses, and with as much history and depth as M rquez s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Bolano s magnum opus is a bold statement against literature itself However, with such a book comes all the tedium you would expect from Moby Dick As a result, this book will only be truly great for a small selection of very patient readers Now let me unpack that a little 2666 is a book about masterpieces it is a book about writing books that don t quite fit literary conventions As readers, we like to slot books into nice and neat little categories that help us to understand what the book is This isn t one of those books This is wild and untamed it s erratic and random and full of passion and life and death and tedium 2666 is a book that dares to be different it s a book that dares to challenge the literary cannon, and it puts up an incredibly strong fight against normality And within it there are moments of real beauty and there are also moments of absolute abject horror There are also some moments that boarder on the pornographic as the characters are filled with desire because they are so completely detached from the world and everyone it it so they scream out to be loved and to be close to someone, even if it is just for a few hours It s a novel that is politically charged and angry It s absolutely loaded with themes and motifs and it s asking to be pulled apart and analysed, but it s also terribly dull It s boring to read It s repetitive and it s detached and it s cynical and it s just a real slog And there s the rub I really don t think may readers will be able to read this from cover to cover, and those that do will find very little joy within its pages It s not a pleasant book to read It s a book that graphically details the rape of 112 women with scrutinising facts This section of the novel is like a police report, cold and almost like a documentary, as it navigates case after case of brutal murders and rapes We even learn what type of rape it was and in what fashion it was committed We learn how many rapists were involved and the quantity of semen left in and on the victim All in all, it was one of the most difficult things I ve read and at several points I did question why I was actually bothering to read it What s the point in putting yourself through such a painful experience What is this book giving me And this raises another question the novel discusses why do we read What are we trying to get out of it One of the novel s five sections is a demonstration that we will never truly find the author in the books we read They are illusive, and any attempts of pursing them will be in vain Distance is the key Bolano attempts to alienate the reader, as he frustrates him time and time again with countless character disappearances and a complete lack of narrative closure It s certainly not a book that was meant to be comfortable to read or one that takes you on a journey The characters are flat and never grow The plot is a mess Some critics have called this a feminist texts because of the way it criticises a culture that allows for the rape of women in such a causal way Some call it political because it criticises a world that allows such atrocities to happen But I call it an oddity, a book that dares to be different and to say things in a very different way And I am so torn on my opinion of it, I haven t struggled to rate a book this much since I read Ulysses which I left unrated I want to praise this book, and I also want to forget it s existence I suppose three stars will do for this insightful, intelligent and acute novel that left me bored, angry and depressed FBR Twitter Facebook Insta Academia I accept that I ll probably get flamed for this, but enough is enough this maddening, rapacious, and occasionally compelling book is making my life miserable Will I finish it Will it matter Let me say for the record that I counted myself as a likely enthusiast I fit the profile but after a long, protracted battle, can t bring myself to sing along with the choir to which Bolano is preaching In fact, I m starting to wonder if we re so enslaved as readers to the cult of the author that we no longer require his masterpiece to deliver on its claim to greatness, as an integral work of art that transfigures and transcends its moment without depending on the ego of its author to contain it This happened with Sebald, too the writer s death, in consummating that ego, paradoxically secures the instant immortality of the work, and we promote him to canonical status before the work itself can pass the endurance test not necessarily of time, but of fiction as an invented life form that can survive not only in the fair weather of an assured friendly reception, but the inclemency of readers genuine surprise And their work makes itself available to this kind of literary leapfroggery because of its overtly moribund self reference there is no 2666 as a singular novel without the idea of Bolano as an already consecrated literary martyr, just as there may be no individual Vertigo, Austerlitz, The Emigrants, et al., as novels, without the classical fantasy of Sebald, as an idol of immediate eternity, to connect them all.For me, the most significant failing of 2666 is that it is not convincing as a novel, as a unified world inhabited by a variety of imaginary real people whose lives are in our hands For all their hyper personalizing detail, the characters of this book do not exist for readers as such, because they serve the book than vice versa they appear, get used, and not unlike the Santa Teresa victims are discarded their bodies pile up along the unrelenting highway of a narrative profoundly driven, it appears, by a refusal to finish Not to be a dime store psychiatrist, but this reminds me of an intensely voluble teacher I once had who said, Nobody ever died talking When characters reappear, their remergence carries no real novelistic weight, because they never haunted the spaces from which they were absent without the direct consciousness of the author, they have no being When he isn t thinking about them, neither is the book I don t refer to them by name for a reason I don t need to Rather than sincerely individuated figures, they seem like components of a consuming, universal ego that substitutes humane curiosity for self interest the literary narcissism of a book that absorbs itself By this criteria, I can think of lots of postmodern post postmodern novels with dead authors who are still breathing It might even be said that the organizing principle of this literally infinite book is the death of the author, and while that might sound coherent enough, even noble, I m not sure that automatic posterity is the most honorable or compelling motive for a novel, which at its best, endeavors first and foremost to make something live, whether it literally exists or not, or ever did.What I think is noble, though, is the ecstatic response to Bolano s work Personally, I find the reviews encomia to 2666 as the apotheosis of Bolano s genius a hell of a lot interesting than the book itself, and I think I know why that might be The enthusiasm that readers have for this novel honors something tremendously important a persisting faith in the transformative potential of the novel as a tradition Readers who love this book believe in the novel and what it can and should do, and my question is simply whether this particular book really does it, or if we re so desirous for a novel that remakes the form a show of proof that literary fiction isn t a terminal enterprise, but eternally regenerative and revelatory that we re willing to invest our faith in something that aspires to that aim, but doesn t necessarily achieve it Bolano clearly shared this desire, too, but to my mind failed his readers by enlisting their belief primarily in the confabulation of this wish fulfillment this imaginary great new book rather than in the invented world inside it Instead of champions of 2666 as an autonomous contribution to literature, or the creation of a strange new world, we ve become servants to Bolano s own auto mythology And that might be noble, but it s also disappointing. Animate Immerse Revive This big, fat book sat lifeless, intimidating, unread on my shelf for several years I loved the cover, but I didn t particularly like the shape of the book itself It was a brick Somehow its dimensions seemed to be disproportionate For a long time, I made excuses, then, finally, prompted by two GR friends, I made a spontaneous decision I opened it and started to readI immersed myself in a world of revelation for ten days I still feel the preternatural reverberations.What does an author do when they write a novel Do they condense life Do they distil it Do they dehydrate life Do they remove the water Do they create a desert So life can be preserved until the rain comes What do readers do when we read a novel Do we just add water Do we re hydrate life Are we the rain the novel was waiting for Does our effort bring the novel alive Do we make it vital Does reading turn a desert into an oasis Do we animate what the author has created And vice versa Does their creation facilitate our recreation Writers, write so that we may be animated Readers, read so that you may animate and be animated Writers, readersimmerse yourselves in each other Revive Vitalise Enjoy Expose yourselves to life Turn your back on death Its time will comebut not yet Talking Heads And She Was Now she s starting to riseTake a minute to concentrateAnd she opens up her eyesThe world was moving and She was right there with it and she was Hermosillo, SonoraDoesn t the moon look big tonight A Critical Quest for the AuthorIn Part 1 of this metafiction, four European critics go looking for the German author, the writer, Hans Reiter aka Benno von Archimboldi, named after the Mexican statesman Benito Ju rez and the Milanese painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo He is there, somewhere in front of them, in Mexico, but they can t see the wood for the trees.In Part 5, Bolano offers us the author, up to the point he leaves for Mexico We readers know what the critics don t and can t know.What we learn is the identity of the author, the person, his character, his childhood, his adulthood, his family, his influences, his bibliography, his history, his past.Into the Abyss of Time and SpaceOur journey of discovery takes us not just across time, but across the globe, from pre war Germany to wartime Soviet Union to contemporary Mexico.Chronologically, we start in the forest, we cross the sea, and we end up in the desert Each of these places has a metaphorical significance for Bolano.During the war Part 5 , 500 Jews are exterminated in the forest by compliant local administrators in a matter of weeks, while in Santa Teresa, northern Mexico Part 4 , we see 105 women and girls raped and murdered over five years.It s an average of 21 per annum, but they re not just statistics they all have names, ages, identities, families and causes of death.Part 4 wasn t as explicit or harrowing as I had anticipated You just need to formulate a reading strategy to accommodate the sheer bulk of Femicide It s unrelenting, but nowhere near as unrelenting as the experience of the real thing Apart from the number of crimes, there is less detail than a standard crime novel.It s tempting to depersonalise it, to disbelieve, to treat it as mere fiction But that would defeat the purpose It is based on the real just as is the description of the Holocaust This is the desert of the real We can t turn our backs We have to acknowledge it World CentralPart 5 blew my mind Anybody who doesn t reach it because they give up in Part 4 is missing out on some of the best writing this century There is wartime realism a la the relatively two dimensionalEurope Central. However, this Part takes us into the fifth dimension There is tragedy, comedy, fantasy, science fiction, satire Think de Sade, Thomas Mann, Herman Hesse, G nter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, David Lynch, James Ellroy, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Bulgakov, Bruno Schulz, even Saul Bellow at times.To paraphrase Bolano himself, this is one of the great, imperfect, torrential works that blaze paths into the unknown, a novel in which one of the great masters and Bolano is entitled to that labelstruggles against that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench Juan Davila Stupid as a Painter 1982 Matthew 26 66What think ye They answered and said, he is guilty of death The Parallels of Genocide and FemicideIn the words of Hannah Arendt, Bolano shows us just how banal evil can be, at least with respect to the Holocaust 500 Jews arrive by train, apparently by mistake, in a small regional town They present a problem for the local administration, an inconvenience Slowly, the administration arrives at a final solution in which almost the whole town participates Bolano allows us to see how easily ordinary people became complicit in a greater evil, even if at a base level it was their evilThis country has tried to topple any number of countries into the abyss in the name of purity and will As far as I m concerned, you understand, purity and will are utter tripe now we sob and moan and say we didn t know we had no idea it was the Nazis we never would have done such a thing We know how to whimper We know how to drum up sympathy We don t care whether we re mocked so long as they pity us and forgive us There ll be plenty of time for us to embark on a long holiday of forgetting Unfortunately, we never get close enough to the perpetrator s of the Femicide to understand who is responsible, let alone its motivation or cause In the case of the Holocaust, we ask why ordinary people didn t refuse to participate in Genocide, whereas in the case of the Femicide we ask why the law enforcement agencies have been so incapable of finding the perpetrators and guaranteeing the safety of women and girls in the future.Barbarism Plagues a World Rich and MagnificentAre we, then, fighting adoomed battle against barbarism Sometimes, you have to wonder whether the banality might be a natural or valid response to the chaos all around usIn one of his last notes he mentions the chaos of the universe and says that only in chaos are we conceivable Elsewhere, Bolano is optimistic, recognising thatlife is a mystery , but describing chaos as areflection of the world, rich and magnificent despite war and injustice Family CommunionPerhaps something positive emerges from the manner in which we confront chaos and evilIn that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion The communion of coincidence and effect, and the communion of effect with us For all the chaos, it s still possible for a sense of unity to prevail, especially at the level of family It s important that unity doesn t necessarily imply singularity Unity can result from juxtaposition It can derive from a composite of discrete things like the paintings of Arcimboldo Not only is family part of the express subject matter of the novel, but it was a constant preoccupation for Bolano during the five years it took him to write the novel He suffered from a lethal liver disease and was waiting for a transplant at the time he died of complications His novel formed part of the financial legacy he wished to leave his family He did everything for his familyMy only country is my two children and wife and perhaps, though in second place, some moments, streets, faces or books that are in me When These Stars Cast Their LightThese other moments area proliferation of instants, brief interludesthat reveal the relationship between past and present They can be captured in art and literature, and perpetuated in time, into the futurewe never stop clinging to life, because we are life One might also say we re theatre, we re music Culture that survives from the past continues to enlighten the present like the light of stars We can only hope that it will enlighten the future as wellWhen these stars cast their light, we didn t exist, life on Earth didn t exist, even Earth didn t exist This light was cast a long time ago It s the past, we re surrounded by the past, everything that no longer exists or exists only in memory or guesswork is there now, shining on the mountains and the snow and we can t do anything to stop it An old book is the past, too, a book written and published in 1789 is the past, its author no longer exists, neither does its printer or the ones who read it first or the time when it was written, but the book, the first edition of that book, is still here I hope this book lives on in the memory and for the benefit of Bolano s wife Carolina and their two children, Alexandra and Lautaro I hope you can overcome any apprehension about its length and subject matter and experience the enlightenment within Bolano s world is both past and present, but most importantly, it is rich and magnificent and true.For the End of 2666and that s it, friends I ve done it all I ve lived it all If I had the strength, I would cry I bid you all goodbyeSurround Sister, Take Care of Me I started to read this novel over a long weekend On the Sunday, our 16 year old daughter left with older sister in the photo below from a retro party the previous night went shopping in the city, while we saw a film She is worldly, but still a beautiful, innocent and generous soul When we picked her up, she was quite distressed A 30 year old male had accosted her in public and refused to let go of her hand after shaking it She said she had to meet her parents He said, phone them and tell them you ve been kidnapped Women and girls are still not safe Anywhere Unfortunately, the experience of life exposes us to both light and dark Which is why this novel is so powerful It tells the truth The truth can happen to us all.https m.youtube.com watch v 9DgyeIm An Oasis of Horror in a Desert of Boredom Epigraph From Charles BaudelaireThe Voyage Also translatedAn oasis of horror in a desert of ennui http fleursdumal.org poem 231 Welcome to the Desert of the RealIf once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second order simulacra It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours The desert of the real itself.Jean BaudrillardSimulacra and Simulations , published by University of Michigan Press, 1994 Translated by Sheila Faria Glaser What Treasure Hidden in a Desert CaveThat sense of time, ah, the diseased man s sense of time, what treasure hidden in a desert cave They seemed suddenly to freeze, lose all sense of time, and turn completely inward, as if they were bypassing the abyss of daily life, the abyss of people, the abyss of conversation, and decided to approach a kind of lakeside region, a late romantic region, where the borders were clocked from dusk to dusk, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, and eternity, like the minutes of those condemned to die, like the minutes of women who ve just given birth and are condemned to die, who understand that time isn t eternity and nevertheless wish with all their souls for time, and their wails are birds that come flying every so often across the double lakeside landscape, so calmly, like luxurious excrescences or heartbeats Then, naturally, the three men would emerge stiff from the silence and go back to talking about inventions, women, Finnish philology, the building of highways across the Reich Roberto Bolano, 2666 A Sea of Seeming and Rabid ImmaturityMetaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming Arcimboldo the Milanese painter s technique struck him as happiness personified The end of semblance Only Ansky s wandering isn t semblance, he thought, only Ansky at fourteen isn t semblance Ansky lived his whole life in rabid immaturity because the revolution, the one true revolution, is also immature Roberto Bolano, 2666 Mezcal HaikuThis here s the rub Bolano is the mezcal,Vollmann s just the grub Unhappy ReadymadeIt s a Duchamp idea, leaving a geometry book hanging exposed to the elements to see if it learns something about real lifehe had liked disparaging the seriousness of a book full of principlesin its exposure to the weather, the treatise seriously got the facts of life I hung it there to see how it survives the assault of nature, to see how it survives this desert climateJust pretend the book doesn t exist Marcel Duchamp Unhappy Readymade 1919 The readymade must be exposed to life before it can be happyor wise. Roberto Bola o s 2666 has been described as the most electrifying literary event of the year Lev Grossman, Time , as a landmark in what s possible for the novel as a form Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review , as a work of devastating power and complexity Adam Mansbach, The Boston Globe , as the work of a literary genius Francine Prose, Harper s Magazine , and, repeatedly, as a masterpiece Adam Kirsch of Slate.com writes that 2666 is an epic of whispers and details, full of buried structures and intuitions that seem too evanescent, or too terrible, to put into words It demands from the reader a kind of abject submission to its willful strangeness, its insistent grimness, even its occasional tedium that only the greatest books dare to ask for or deserve Boyd Tonkin claims that 2666 offers everything that fiction can and then gives even And, combining Bola o s biography and art, one critic writes, His death, in the last moments of its creation, applies the final indeterminate Bola esco touch mystery, openness, imperfection a simultaneous promise of everything and of nothing But none of that is what I found in this book Instead of being the epitome of the art of the novel or its salvation, 2666 is, for me, an ambitious attempt at greatness that fails It represents also the failure of literary critics to recognize the difference between great literature, mediocre literature in the shape of great literature, and pretentions to greatness that are bolstered by a romantic life and an early death Typically, a good novel will have an interesting plot, significant character development, or thematic or political significance 2666, though, lacks all of these things It has a merely perfunctory plot, a total lack of character development as characters remain flat and distant and come and go with no fanfare, and any central theme or political significance is deeply buried within the overwhelming level of detail Even , a good novel is one that does something creates an emotional response in the reader, teaches something, illuminates an issue or makes a political statement This novel does none of those things My primary problem, though, is that this a novel with no joy in it The characters are all deadened and distant, lacking connection with others and satisfaction with their lives the plot, such as it is, focuses on rape and murder, lost people, and war and the style consistently holds the reader at arm s length from all of this This joylessness seems to be intentional, but that doesn t make it any pleasurable, interesting, or rewarding to read Giles Harvey writes of 2666, Samuel Beckett, the original laureate of failure, needed only a few pages of dialogue or prose to suggest an infinity of excruciating boredom Bola o chooses to actually subject us to that boredom, for 900 pages There are books that function precisely because of this lack of joy, to make a point or to highlight, by contrast, something fundamental about humanity Richard Wright s Native Son is such a novel It takes us into the psyche of Bigger Thomas, a rage filled and frustrated young black man in 1930s Chicago, as he rapes and murders two young women This is a novel without much hope and without much light, mired as it is in Bigger s world, but this darkness is purposeful, designed to bring a problem to light and effect political change Similarly, Cormac McCarthy s The Road is a beating of a book in the way it emphasizes desolation and loss But, again, even if there is no hope for the characters in the plot, there is a sort of redemption in the relationship developed between father and son.The darkness in Bola o s 2666 is different, though Part 1, The Part About the Critics, tells the story of four European literary critics in search of an author, Benno von Archimboldi, and their mostly unfulfilling love affairs with one another Part 2, The Part About Amalfitano, is about one man in Santa Teresa a town in Mexico that has been plagued by a series of rapes and murders of young woman and which was modeled on Ju rez, in which a real life series of rapes and murders took place during the 1990s who gradually loses his grip on reality Part 3, The Part About Fate, follows an African American reporter called Oscar Fate who comes to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match and winds up being drawn into the mystery surrounding the disappearances there Part 4, The Part About the Crimes, does little than clinically detail hundreds of crimes against women, many of them involving similar young women who have been anally and vaginally raped and then murdered, and follow the half hearted attempts of the local police to solve said crimes and Part 5, The Part About Archimboldi, finally tells readers who the author from Part 1 really is, where he came from, what shaped him mostly World War II, it seems , and what has become of him The parts are only loosely related to one another and none of them contain any closure Giles Harvey, again, writes, The book is a monstrosity, an immense negation of everything we expect literature to provide form, insight, redemption, happiness It seems to want to inflict itself upon us I have suggested that the book is a failure Yet to call 2666 a failure feels somehow tautological Bola o s imagination was underwritten by the idea that every human impulse is ultimately thwarted, cancelled, destroyed This drive toward failure is therefore distinct from the darkness found in Native Son and The Road Its only purpose, after all, it seems, is to destroy all hope and to impart Bola o s bleak worldview, a worldview which itself does nothing The most striking instance of this is in Part 4, about the crimes Some reviewers have argued that the book makes a political statement about the treatment of and attitude toward women that allows this kind of rape and murder to continue unabated, some have called his writing about the epidemic of rape and murder compassionate, some have even claimed his coverage of the killings can be called feminist Michael Berger writes, The sheer audacity of the novel is that it reads at times as the ultimate indictment of Bola o s gender, his own dreams and desires, and especially the culture of machismo, gangsterism, and tyranny that passes for masculinity in many parts of the world A review from the New York Magazine Book Review claims that Bola o humanizes not only the women and their families but the corrupt police and even the murder suspects It s a perfect fusion of subject and method The real world horror anchors Bola o s dreamy aesthetic, producing an impossibly powerful hybrid of political anger and sophisticated art.Berger also describes the style of Part 4 by saying that the murders are described in a neutral, matter of fact style that serves to humanize the victims The overwhelming and clinical detail surrounding the murders do little for me in the way of humanizing the victims, however They all start to sound the same The names may be different, but the details are all too similar This seems the opposite of humanizing, actually And this is an important point to dwell upon because all of the things these positive reviews claim that it is political literature, Bola o s compassion, that it is feminist depend for their effectiveness not on deadening the reader or highlighting the horrors of humanity but on drawing the reader in, creating an emotional connection, and even pushing the reader to change the way she or he thinks and even acts Bola o s work, thorough as it is, does not do this When everyone in the novel is distant and half dead, even the good guys such as they are , what does it matter if women are being raped and killed When even the reader is deadened by the effort of reading the novel, what does it matter Further, The Part About the Crimes, in which Bola o details several years worth of rapes and murders in Santa Teresa, in which hundreds of women are brutalized, violated, mutilated, and killed and are only distinguished from one another in many cases by quickly passed over names and clinical descriptions of how they were found and what they were wearing when they were found, serves only to deaden The women who are killed are no than objects, evidence of a crime wave Reading this section, one cannot help but wonder at the sheer volume of the crimes described Bola o is clearly trying to make a point by depicting each and every one of the crimes, trying to represent the breadth of this problem, but it loses all meaning eventually Why depict hundreds of dead and violated women s bodies when the point could be made with a far smaller number Why not allow the reader to extrapolate from an already horrifying number One cannot help but wonder, as I ve said, but not only at the number of women killed which is what Bola o attempts to highlight here one cannot help but wonder if at some level there is a perverse pleasure on the part of the author or intended for the reader in seeing this violence against women enacted over and over and over again At some point it crosses a line between instructive and twisted.At least one critic takes note of this John Lingan writes, When we read this parade of atrocity, particularly in light of the other moments in 2666 when women are raped or otherwise forcibly used for sex, it s hard not to imagine that Bola o took some small level of skewed enjoyment from the project Bola o s living women are equally problematic As Victor Manley writes, All of the women are either nymphomaniac, indecisive, fickle, insane, unnatural or a colourful selection of the above For a so called feminist novel, then, 2666 is sorely lacking in convincing female characters and in an understanding of women s actual lives Bola o does evince some concern with the situation that leads to women being raped and murdered, but I am not sure that that s enough As Jonathan Birch writes, Emotionally, for all its absurd scope why read ten different novels when you can read one by Roberto Bola o , 2666 is as cold and dead as its female characters This was a hard book to read and has been a hard book to write about In this, it succeeds, I suppose, in being bleak and depressing and in putting forth a particular view of life and humanity But a masterpiece I think not Critics like to defend the book by saying that great art challenges the reader, that great art may not be immediately recognized as beautiful but these same critics profusely praise the book seeming to undermine their own defenses of it and refuse to note that there is a distinction between challenging the reader and telling him or her to fuck off, which is like what 2666 does As one reviewer writes in one of the few not so glowing reviews, I didn t exactly hate 2666, but I often got the feeling that 2666 wasn t so fond of me Put literarily, In Bola o s hellish postmodern creation, the silent contract between reader and author is broken there s nothing to care about, nothing at stake, and no reason to keep reading Indeed. If that tosser Ian Graye can trash Infinite Jest in so unseemly a fashion then all I can say is.CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH BETWEEN INFINITE JEST BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE AND 2666 BY ROBERTO BOLANOIJ choose your weapons, fatso.2666 Fuck man, what is this, the 14th century IJ I didn t organise this, I don t make the rules2666 what s going on here anyway We were both written by dead guys and now they have cruelly pitted us against each other for the tacky reality tv WWF style pleasure of this muesli slurping self congratulatory wiseacre goodreads crowd Look at them all, ugh, doesn t the bile rise at the site of em.Crowd person muesli Slurp Oh your reviews are divine2nd crowd person oh so are yours, mwwaaa mwaaIJ we are in the super heavyweight class, I note The Sumo wrestlers of literary pomism.2666 fuck I am hammered Do you know how much how much how much er how much I have had to drink IJ it sounds like gallons You are in no fit state Referee This book can t fight.Referee 2666 there is no referee The very idea is antique This is the post post post er post so post that modernity is just a dot on the far horizon you know man you know what I mean god the things I ve seenIJ I know all about it, I read you years ago but I found part four a real struggle2666 well you talk about struggle you have notes than Tchaikovsky on a florid dayIJ I went to florid day once, it was so fucking hot Miami.2666 my what IJ Ami.2666 did you go to see the dolphinsIJ yeah I saw the dolphins, isn t that what everyone does2666 I just saw heaps of bodies of people that had been cruelly cruelly post murderedIJ post murdered Is that a thing 2666 what IJ what 2666 you re my best mateIJ we rule you know Who can compare to us mighty and difficult novels We are the best addressing the crowd You fuckers had better realise that2666 yes or you might end up in Part FourIJ ha ha, good one2666 let s get out of this fucking placeIJ I ll buy you a drink if you can stand it2666 fuckThe two giant novels lumber over the ropes of the ring and out into the world of bars, reviewers and the blinding sunshine of cruelty The crowd tries to mask its disappointment with muesli.
For most of his early adulthood, Bola o was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.Bola o moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector working during the day and writing
- 1125 pages
- Roberto Bolaño
- 05 February 2017 Roberto Bolaño