Thursday, March 01, 2012

My 2666 Experience

It took me quite a while to finish reading this book. More than a month actually. It's not a hard book to read, if one is judging it purely based on grammar, sentence structure, and progression. 

The writing was quite simple, but the details lead my mind to think and wander. While reading 2666, I, being an overly analytical person, was already going ahead of myself and forming my own conclusions. Thoughts, that because the writing was too detailed and extended, became more of a distraction. Picture 2 different songs played simultaneously, one slow and monotonous and the other fast and syncopated. What do you get? Noise. Yes, my friends. I read 2666 for more than a month because I suffered from "brain noise".

In any book review, you'd always see a synopsis of the book being reviewed. But, for this book, I simply do not have the energy to write one. As such, please forgive me if I, instead, give you the summary as  written in Wikipedia:

The novel is divided in five "parts" all linked by varying degrees of concern with unsolved murders of upwards of 300 young, poor, mostly uneducated Mexican women in Santa Teresa.

Part 1, "The Part about the Critics" describes a group of four European literary critics who have forged their careers around the elusive German novelist Benno von Archimboldi. Their search for Archimboldi ultimately leads them to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa in Sonora.

Part 2, "The Part about Amalfitano" concentrates on Oscar Amalfitano, a mentally unstable professor of philosophy at the University of Santa Teresa, who fears his daughter will be caught up in the violence of the city.
Part 3, "The Part about Fate" follows Oscar Fate, an American journalist for an African-American interest magazine, who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match (despite knowing very little about boxing) but becomes interested in the murders.
Part 4, "The Part about the Crimes" chronicles the murders of dozens of women in Santa Teresa from 1993 to 1997. It also depicts the police force in their fruitless attempts to solve the crimes.
Part 5, "The Part about Archimboldi" reveals that the mysterious writer is Hans Reiter, born in 1920 in Prussia. This section explains how a provincial German soldier on the Eastern Front became an author in contention for the Nobel Prize.
I thinks it's worth noting that 2666 is the last work of Roberto Bolaño and was published after his death. Despite the claims that the book is finished as intended by the author, I for one feel that it isn't. I've read the book with some of my TFG friends and they know, that after reading 2666, it took me quite some time to stop searching for that ever elusive next page.

I did love Bolaño's writing. In fact, when I started reading this, I could not get over how eloquently he wrote Part 1. It was such impeccable writing that I could not put the book down and that I was even contemplating on giving up sleep just to continue reading. I was drawn to the world of the critics. I somehow wish I lived the life of Liz Norton. Young, intelligent, beautiful, sought after (not just for intellectual reasons). Although, I don't think that I have it in my person to be Liz Norton. At least not that part of her that  approaches sex and relationships with such detachment.

Reading Part 2, 3, and 4 constantly made me question it's relevance to Part 1. I must admit, I was a bit lost and I didn't really know where Bolaño was trying to lead me. But, still, the writing and the descriptions egged me to finish the book. It was a struggle. I kept on closing the book, placing it on top of the coffee table in front of, staring at it and repeatedly asking "What's your point? What's your point? What's your point?"

At the middle of Part 4, I was seriously contemplating on stopping. I'm more than half-way through and I still don't know what Bolaño was driving at. This is one crazy book. Oh, I do get that he's trying to be different and experimental. In some ways he achieved that. Was the book experimental? Yes. Was it a successful experiment? No.

Around 20 pages before the last page, the now-i-get-the-need-for-part-2-3-and-4 eureka moment arrived. Finally! Now, I can continue reading without holding my breath. Or so I thought.

Done reading. Yet, I'm still left feeling empty and confused. I'm plagued with the same question posted in the beginning of this book.

My Rating for this book:

Go ahead and read it. But don't say I didn't warn you. If you do decide to read this, I suggest you read it while enjoying a very good cup of coffee.

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