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  • 2666
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 December 2009
Five novels, over 900 pages - this certainly isn't a relaxing read. But if you're interested in where literature is today, this is probably an essential one. I'm not going to discuss the plot, partly because that's already been done here and partly because this is not a work that's about plot. Never an easy read, it demands the reader work at the text in the same way that a T.S.Eliot, a Dante or a Baudelaire does.

Replete with images, mythic resonances, historical and cultural allusions, this is ultimately a rich text that builds up layer by layer, and meaning resides as much in what isn't said, in the interstices of the story, as it does in what is said. This is the kind of book that will appear on university syllabuses for courses on modern and post-modern literature; and I would guess it won't be long before theses will start to be written on it.

I'm not sure that I would exactly say that I enjoyed reading it, but even while reading it I felt that it was important. So don't expect a gripping, just-one-more-chapter read, or a linear plotline - this is far more leisurely and diffuse. But its power builds up surely as you become immersed. An undoubtedly authoritative achievement, but unlikely to be a book that people have an emotional love for.
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on 7 July 2017
I think this is the best novel I read in my entire life. Challenging, humorous, gritty, full of life and death. Bolano masterpiece not doubt.
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on 26 July 2017
To me reading in Spanish good books is amazing.
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on 9 June 2017
very good
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2009
If you are looking for a novel with a recognisable plot, a beginning, middle and satisfactory ending, then this probably is not for you. This is a literary novel where the characters take centre stage and very little appears to happen. If you have read Haruki Murakami then you will have an idea of what to expect in respect to narrative style. Also an aquaintance with James Joyce would not go amiss, 2666 contains some very long paragraphs and rambling sentences. One paragraph in particular contains one sentence of about 1700 words. Indicative of how thought processes work, of how conversations can meander how for example a conversation can start on one topic and somehow end on something totally unrelated, until someone pulls you back to the point.

I think that I found 2666 less challenging than some readers because I had an idea of what to expect having read The Savage Detective and his short stories Last Evenings on Earth. In fact I would go as far as saying don't start with 2666, build up to it. Also I believe that it is a novel that you cannot read without taking the life of the author into account. In the Introduction to 'Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview' I have read that his ambition for 2666 was 'to write a postmortem for the dead of the past, the present and the future'. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of this novel and the author.

Many reviewers have already tried to explain what the book is about, I couldn't even attempt that, the further I read into the novel my ideas concerning what it was about changed. For instance it brings into focus what a crazy world we are living in, one death merits front page headlines while hundreds fade to insignificance, a boxing match is more newsworthy than the disappearance and violent death of the women. It is also about the importance and value of literature in this crazy world. I am sure that readers could pick up on many themes. 'The Part About the Crimes' is incredibly difficult to read and yet this is the heart of the book. Bolano had become fascinated about the murders in Ciudad Juarez long before they became widely discussed and somehow he managed to obtain insider information. The reason why the descriptions of the murdered girls read like autopsy reports is because they probably are. While writing his other novels this one about the murders was never far from his thoughts.

2666 is the most challenging and satisfying book I have read for years. The narrative is beautiful, compelling and quite addictive.

Since writing this review I have read 'Between Parentheses' a collection of Bolano's writing between 1998 - 2003 and it has definitely shed new light on the man and his body of work.
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on 16 February 2017
great thank you
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on 2 November 2016
2666 is a novel that defies easy categorisation. Following two distinct strands of story - one concerning a great, lost German author who writes under the name Benno von Archimboldi, the other wrapping itself around the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa and the monstrous, relentless serial murders of women that are occurring there - it veers off throughout into numerous subplots and side tales that just as much make up the 'true' story being told here.

2666 is a masterful novel, full of darkness and light, horror and humour. It manages to scale the peaks and sink to the depths of the human condition, showing us the best and the worst that the world has to offer. Everyone we meet in the book feels real, from the most minor character mentioned only in passing, to the deeply drawn main players in each section of the novel. Split into 5 parts, each one quite different in story line, it nevertheless maintains an internal consistency and voice that never falters. Whether we are in the brutal Mexican underworld, the academic circles of Europe or on the front lines of World War II Russia, Bolano manages to tie it all together. What was he trying to say with 2666? I'll leave that to others to decide, all I can say is that he says it very, very well.

At times surreal, always gripping, this is certainly not a book for everyone. The middle section dealing with the Santa Teresa serial killings is particularly gruelling - a litany of murdered women appear, page after page of brutal killings without an end in sight, made all the more poignant due to the fact that they are clearly based on true events (the Ciudad Juarez serial killings). But the novel is well worth the struggles it presents.

I give 2666 4* for one reason only. Roberto Bolano unfortunately passed away before he could complete the manuscript for 2666. For such a long novel, and one that presents such a challenging read at times, you could be left with a sense of incompletion at it's climax. It stands perfectly well as it is, indeed Bolano intended each section of the book to be sold separately, but there is no grand finale, no answer to the grand questions posed in the story. Regardless, in conclusion I think it is well worth reading. A great final novel by a great author.
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on 4 January 2014
2666 is a novel in five parts which, although separate from each other, weave themselves together to create a truly dazzling literary experience. That, like some of the blurb on the cover ("Stupefying ambition", "vital, thrilling, life-enhancing", "Stunning originality", an "Electrifying literary event" and "A landmark") doesn't really say anything of the novel itself. Such superlatives, such post-mortal fawning would usually serve as a more than adequate warning sign; a big grandiose monolith in garish neon proclaiming: "here be over worthiness, hand wringing and excessively staid verbosity". In actuality the praise is, if anything, lacking in effusiveness.

The five tales in 2666 reveal themselves like five Russian Babushka dolls, all of the same family but each set with a myriad of exquisite sub sets, each layer exposed adding to the richness of the whole while at the same time being more dazzling than the previous.

The first tale involves four literary critics drawn together through mutual admiration for a reclusive German author, Benno von Archimboldi; how they meet, critique, fall in and out of love and eventually find themselves in the Mexican border town Santa Teresa chasing a lead in the search for their elusive obsession. The second tale is of a Santa Teresan professor as he seems to sink slowly into madness as his daughter becomes further and further estranged, dangerously so. Third is about New York journalist Oscar Fate when he is sent, after unfortunate events, to cover a boxing match in the border town. Fifth and final tale is the story of Archimboldi himself; from fighting in the Third Reich on both West and Eastern fronts to a kind of redemption through writing and his elusive literary career, family and eventual, presumed, journey to Santa Teresa.

The fourth tale, about the crimes, is a litany of corruption: Santa Teresa's dark unspoken secret in unflinching, clinical candour.

That these five tales finally come together like the best whodunit, with requisite twist in the tale, would be enough cause for praise, but in Bolaño's effusive and exhaustive prose the stories within stories are as captivating and compelling as they are feats of gigantic intellectual dexterity. 2666 is a complex, multi-layered, immensely readable and re-readable masterpiece.
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on 1 February 2017
This is a bleak novel full of graphic and violent pages. Yet, those parts are necessary for the whole narrative structure of the novel, which you will understand only at the end of Part 5, that is at the end of the book itself. Than, you will start think about what you read for days, weeks. Finally, you'll realise that your life has become an extension of the novel. Bolaño is a genius and this is one of the best novels I have ever read in my life.
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on 20 September 2011
Back in spring I had 3 weeks with not an awful lot to do and was up for some meaty fiction, so obviously the thickness of this book on my parents' bookshelf attracted me, as did a previous interest in Latin American fiction. It was a while ago that I read it now but when I think of the time I still feel a kind of excitement, a breathlessness and a feeling like I'm staring into the void. The part about the killings IS horrible, but I think Bolano meant this as a way of making us feel the suffering of all those women killed in Cuidad Juarez instead of just statistics, which justifies it. Reading this part noon and night (partly absorbed, partly wishing it would finish) gave me this impression. I can see that if it was your bedtime reading it might get tedious. So follow the example of the characters in the part about the critics, and read every day till the sun comes up (take a few weeks off work!).

This book really inspired in me a new love of life and art, I would go so far as to say it actually changed my life. It makes Garcia Marquez and the magic realism I used to so enjoy look childish!
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