05 August 2011

2666 by Roberto Bolano

"It takes some force of will to make it through this sequence of five separate, tangentially linked novels" - Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
That pretty much sums it up for me.  A force of will indeed.  I always read straight through a novel.  If said novel fails to capture my attention I move on.  Life is too short to read bad fiction.  Or bad non-fiction for that matter.  Bolano's 2666 however is something altogether different.  It is an onerous, at times tedious read.  It is a very long book---892 pages.  You begin to think thoughts like, "will this get easier?", "I wonder what's on PBS?", "Maybe now would be a good time to finally clean out those trash bins".  But you do not, I repeat, DO NOT, think, "this is horrible dribble, what a hack!".  You know that you are in the presence of a genius when you read Bolano.  You realize that 2666 is terribly important in some way.  That the author is trying to communicate something here that is incredibly important and that it's quite possible you could understand what that was if you tried really, really hard.  That effort on your behalf is well rewarded I might add because 2666 is impressive in its scope and it's challenges to the reader.  Never mind the bragging rights you'd have, imagine scenes like..."Oh yeah, I read 2666, found it fascinating.  That Bolano sure could write a heck of a story," while your fellow reader friends look on at you with awe and/or respect. At the very least the book is big and could be used as very sturdy door stop (which naturally, would result in making one look rather literary and astute while also giving off the appearance of chic insouciance).  On a more personal note, I have finished this gem of a novel...not bragging just pointing out, mind you.  But I did it with help.  Let's just say that I wasn't exactly faithful.  I had books on the side.  Easy books.  You know the sort. The kind you see lying casually about the local bookshop-pretty cover, slim, catchy back cover.  The kind of books you don't necessarily keep on the bookshelf but rather pass on to the doctors office, local Starbuck's or wherever.  Yup, those little easy jewels made the work of reading Bolano alot more enjoyable.

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed "by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times)," and as "the real thing and the rarest" (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his Bolaño translations.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.


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