...2666 is at heart a fascinating meditation on violence and literature, on how writers 'turned pain, which is natural, enduring, and eternally triumphant, into personal memory, which is human, brief, and eternally elusive.' At its simplest level, 2666 leisurely follows a handful of characters who are drawn, like vultures to a rotting carcass, to the northern Mexican city of Santa Teresa in the 1990s ... Archimboldi never meets his critics, the reporters never solve the crimes, and nothing is resolved at the novel's end ... is a delightfully bookish novel, filled with writers, critics, publishers, copy editors, reporters — all illustrating how reading and writing help make sense of the world.
All but one of 2666's five sections focus on scribblers of one sort or another: the first on a comically repugnant group of European academics who specialize in the work of a reclusive German novelist named Benno von Archimboldi; the second on a sad, Bolaño-like, Chilean exile professor of philosophy; the third on a black American journalist weightily named Oscar Fate; the last on the mysterious Archimboldi himself ... This is no ordinary whodunit, but it is a murder mystery. Santa Teresa is not just a hell. It's a mirror also — 'the sad American mirror of wealth and poverty and constant, useless metamorphosis' ... Stories sprout from other stories. Digression rules. Nothing is ever finished, nothing answered, nothing solved. Bolaño is too smart, or too sad, to attempt to piece it all together.
Reading 2666 demands a degree of sustained artistic communion that strikes me as deeply old-fashioned, practically Victorian ...a novel built out of five linked novellas, each of which is itself a collage of endless stand-alone parts: riffs, nightmares, set pieces, monologues, dead ends, stories within stories, descriptive flourishes ... Bolaño takes the crimes on directly, one by one, compiling a brutal, almost journalistic catalogue of the murdered women...clearly outraged by the culture of misogyny, exploitation, and indifference that enables the killing, he refuses to load the fictional dice...the final indeterminate Bolañesco touch: mystery, openness, imperfection—a simultaneous promise of everything and of nothing.
...2666, superbly translated by Natasha Wimmer, is a magnum opus about, well, almost everything ...the love-child of David Lynch and Jorge Luis Borges — he's that visceral and erudite...912 pages of vivid characters, startling dream sequences and stories within stories within stories, all told in the seductive voice of one who experiences the world more intimately than we do and can capture all its nocturnal melancholy and unexpected sunbursts of beauty ...2666 is obsessed with writers and writing... He never lets us forget that, beneath writers' vaulting words, the world still exists in all its pain, struggle, inequality and violence ... Bolaño gives us an unforgettable portrait of an earthly hell, a dusty, sun-flayed sprawl of shacks and little factories just teeming with lost souls — gangsters, corrupt cops, media mystics, heartless bureaucrats.
... is the prime example — maddening, inconclusive and very, very long; hideous in parts and beautiful in others; exerting a terrible power over the reader long after it's done ...in the severe Sonoran Desert in the north of Mexico, in a fictional border town called Santa Teresa, where hundreds of women who work at American maquiladoras are being raped and strangled ... a World War II epic, and a literary love triangle, and a chronicle of insanity, and the story of a washed-up African American journalist ... The muddled, incantatory monologues of the book's massive cast of characters, pathetically striving toward something they can't define...like so much in the book, is a riddle without a right answer — ineffable, yet palpitating with meaning.
Reviewing Roberto Bolaño's 2666 is like reviewing the ocean. To call it a thing of nearly unfathomable breadth elides the intimacy of experiencing it; to focus on the relentless, pounding rhythm of its violence does no justice to its shimmering beauty ... Each of the five parts of 2666 is written in a distinct style ...offbeat quests of literary figures are a staple of Bolaño's fiction... Reams of information and anecdote swirl toward the black hole at the novel's center, knowable only by the force of its gravity ... Everywhere in Bolaño's work, there is an unquantifiable precision to the absurdity; when a character insists that she believes in the existence of nothing except storms and Aztecs, the declaration makes sublime sense even before the explanation comes ...a work of devastating power and complexity, a final statement worthy of a master.
To read Roberto Bolaño's massive and final five-part novel, 2666, is to embark on a gigantic journey with this restless and imaginative writer, whose prose ranges as far and wide as did the author's own path across Chile, Mexico and Spain ... Every piece of it seems somehow different from every other piece, written by an author who composes everything from sharply pointed dialogue to sentences that spin on and on for five pages ... The writing style, with each page full of brilliant touches, is hard to categorize ...Bolaño writes this massive novel with a poet's ear for the succinct word — yet there are single uninterrupted sentences that go on for five pages, with clauses heaped upon clauses.
...2666 is made up of five sections that are so independent Bolaño originally planned to release them as separate books...not as installments or sequels but, rather, as five planets orbiting the same sun. With their very different stories and settings, they seem to describe a single plummeting arc — the trajectory of a universe on the verge of apocalypse ... He does not take advantage of the novelist's privilege of going anywhere — into the mind of the victim as she suffers or of the killer as he kills ...the eeriness of Bolaño's account lies in its complete exteriority, the deadened affect of its relentless cataloging of deaths ... 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 ...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.
...2666 is a novel of stupefying ambition with a mock-documentary element at its core ... We begin in familiar territory, with a tale of four literary critics from different European countries who are united both by their promiscuity and their obsession with a cult German novelist called Benno von Archimboldi ...this is a novel with many disappearances... As the bodies mount up and all the investigations come to nothing, it becomes clear that what we are being presented with is a vision of hell, a place where horror is unending and meaningless ... 2666 is indeed Bolaño's master statement, not just on account of its length and quality but also because it is the fullest expression of his two abiding themes: the writing life and violence.
This five-part mega-novel has as its thematic centerpiece the sexual crimes against women in the city he calls Santa Theresa. But like some crazed resonance chamber, this notion of desire gone berserk enters into many asides – some unforgettable, some tedious... 2666 is structured as a polyphonic clash of voices and dreams, all trying to make sense of the insensible ... The characters navigate blindly through dark fields, twisting alleys, perilous ravines, and the passageways of ruined castles ...told in a neutral, matter-of-fact style that serves to humanize the victims ... Yet despite this unremitting despair, a vivifying, promiscuous sense of life shines through.
2666 can be described as a novel of disappearance, and it's fitting that the meaning of the title goes missing within it ... A labyrinth of stories as murky as they are brilliant, the novel weaves together plots surrounding the serial disappearances and murders of hundreds of women in central northern Mexico over the past 15 years, and the mysterious life of a fictionalized and reclusive literary figure, Benno von Archimboldi ...each crime creates a vacuum, which Bolaño fills with stories, and the ever-progressing developments create more possibilities than it's possible for the novel to answer ... The novel's major fault is the jarring transition from the section about the crimes into the final part, which covers the life of Benno von Archimboldi ...a true-crime page turner, as well as the work of one of this generation's finest authors at the height of his powers.
...Chilean author’s final work: a mystery and quest novel of unparalleled richness... Published posthumously in a single volume, despite its author’s instruction that it appear as five distinct novels, it’s a symphonic envisioning of moral and societal collapse... Bolaño’s gripping, increasingly astonishing fiction echoes the world-encompassing masterpieces of Stendhal, Mann, Grass, Pynchon and García Márquez, in a consummate display of literary virtuosity powered by an emotional thrust that can rip your heart out.
This brilliant behemoth is grander in scope, ambition and sheer page count, and translator Wimmer has again done a masterful job ...begins with the adventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist ... The heart of the novel comes in the three middle parts... 'The Part About Fate,' the novel's weakest section, concerns Quincy 'Fate' Williams, a black American reporter who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a prizefight and ends up rescuing Rosa from her gun-toting ex-boyfriend ... 'The Part About the Crimes,' the longest and most haunting section, operates on a number of levels: it is a tormented catalogue of women murdered and raped in Santa Teresa ...no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one.