miércoles, 29 de enero de 2014

2666

2666 (Anagrama, 2007)
by Roberto Bolaño
Spain, 2004

A quick intro post.  Revisiting "La parte de los críticos" ["The Part About the Critics"], "La parte de Amalfitano" ["The Part About Amalfitano"] and "La parte de Fate" ["The Part About Fate"] in the company of our readalong group which is scheduled to move on to the controversial "La parte de los crímenes" ["The Part About the Crimes"] and then "La parte de Archimboldi" ["The Part About Archimboldi"] in February, I found that I'd inadvertently reopened the old internal debate about whether Los detectives salvajes [The Savage Detectives] or 2666 is my favorite Bolaño of them all.  Problem: I'm also fond of La literatura nazi en América [Nazi Literature in the Americas] and its corrosive humor.  And another: perhaps "favorite" isn't the type of descriptor that should be applied to this sort of work.  In any event, for people who haven't read 2666 before, I don't think it'd be revealing too much to remark that the second half of the book frames one set of horrendous crimes--the ones based on the still unsolved femicides in Ciudad Juárez, the real life model for the novel's fictional Santa Teresa--against an altogether different one that I'll pass over in silence for now.  While reclusive German author Benno von Archimboldi is the putative protagonist connecting the five parts of the novel (at least in spirit), it should become increasingly clear that Santa Teresa is the real star of the show for better or for worse.  By star of the show, I of course mean vortex of evil.  In this sense, parts 1-3 of the book are something like the calm before the storm or, for Poe fans, the beginning of the descent into the maelstrom.  On that note, the Baudelaire epigraph--"Un oasis de horror en medio de un desierto de aburrimiento" [French original: "Une oasis d'horreur dans un désert d'ennui"; English translation by Natasha Wimmer: "An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom"]--hints at what lies ahead for while the oasis of horror/desert of boredom imagery sounds like it could be applied to the hellish Santa Teresa, even a cursory glance at Baudelaire's "Le Voyage" from Les Fleurs du Mal reveals that the oasis isn't really a specific place but a reflection of "notre image" ["our image"] or ourselves.  More on whether Santa Teresa is made in our image next month; more on what I enjoyed about the first three parts of 2666, beginning with a few specifics about the narrative voice, by the weekend.  In the meantime, please check back here from time to time as I'll be adding links to other people's 2666 posts once they're ready.

Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza
Roberto Bolaño's 2666: The Part About The Critics
Roberto Bolaño's 2666: The Part About Amalfitano
Roberto Bolaño's 2666: The Part About Fate

Frances, Nonsuch Book
2666: the part about the critics

Miguel, St. Orberose
The Part About the Critics
The Part About Amalfitano
The Part About Fate
The Part About the Crimes 
The Part About Archimboldi

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos
2666
Authorial Voice(s) in the First Half of 2666 #1
Authorial Voice(s) in the First Half of 2666 #2 
"La dimensión desconocida" by Sergio González Rodríguez 
Three Readers in "The Part About the Crimes" 

Sarah, what we have here is a failure to communicate
2666: 'Ugh, said the critics...'
2666: 'The world is a strange and fascinating place, he thought.'

Scott, seraillon
2666: The Part About the Critics
2666: The Part About Amalfitano
2666: The Part About Fate 
2666: The Part About the Crimes

16 comentarios:

  1. I can never choose favorites nor have I even been able rank books, or anything else that I like for that matter. I have given up on that internal debate!

    The desert and oasis imagery is so twisted and superb.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Brian, I wish giving up on that sort of internal debate were so easy! Of course, then I'd have one less excuse to reread some of these great books--so maybe the debate's not so bad, after all. 2666 is probably Bolaño's most interesting book in terms of the imagery and symbolism on display.

      Eliminar
  2. Richard, I can't tell you what it means to read with you and the others who have commented at my place (seraillon and Rise and Claire, to be specific). Each of you add tremendously to my understanding of this novel, but more importantly to my appreciation of it. You have introduced me to an author I frankly didn't like very much upon the first taste, but as I get to know him I find my respect growing. Where once I wondered if I'd ever finish one of his books, I now find myself looking forward to the second half of 2666. Who knows, I may even go back and finish The Savage Detectives, and then we can talk about which one is our favorite. ;)

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Bellezza, thank you for being the first one to commit to the group read (especially since you haven't enjoyed Bolaño previously). I was worried that I might not have anybody to argue with! Seriously, glad to hear you're enjoying the experience while figuring out if you like Bolaño or not. Those other people you mention are all fine, fine readers and very generous and collegial readalong mates, so we should have some wonderful discussions once the others chime in with their posts and comments. By the way, the upcoming "The Part About the Crimes" might be the most polarizing part of all Bolaño's oeuvre; however, it also features some of his most powerful, most impressive writing. If you can get through that unscathed, you should indeed be able to get through any other Bolaño afterward with relative ease. Then, as you suggest, we can discuss favorites. Cheers!

      Eliminar
  3. Nazi Literature in the Americas is awesome. Corrosive - to Spanish-language writers, it must have felt like RB had sprayed acid over the entire body of literature.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Tom, I really should read both Nazi Literature and Distant Star again sometime soon. I think it's been 4 years since I first read the former and 6 years since I first read the latter. Yes, long overdue, especially since your description is so on the money.

      Eliminar
    2. That sounds like my next Bolaño then.

      Eliminar
    3. Miguel, it's in a virtual three way tie for first among my favorite Bolaños--although it doesn't have the depth or scope of the two big books. A great read.

      Eliminar
  4. I'm looking forward to all the forthcoming posts on 2666, even if (as usual) I'm behind, with just Part 1 finished.

    It's worth one's while to read "Le Voyage" before (and after) reading 2666. Heck, it's worth one's while to read "Le Voyage" anytime.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. No worries about being "behind," Scott; this is a book to savor whether one is reading it for the first time or the nth time! However, I very much look forward to your posts along with those of all the others. Thanks for the thumbs-up re: "Le Voyage." I hope to get to it in full this weekend and to get to all of Les Fleurs du Mal in February with any luck. I think I've read about a third of it over the years but only in dribs and drabs (i.e. I have absolutely no clue about whether the work has a "secret architecture" or not embedded in it). À la prochaine.

      Eliminar
  5. I am somehow tempted to reread 2666 along with you. Can't believe it's been four years. I believe I wrote a lot of gibberish but in the end words can't express how much Bolaño's writing opened up so many things to me, literary-wise. Looking forward to your insightful reflections on it and your final decision on which one really is your favourite.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Claire, how nice to hear from you! It would, of course, be totally awesome if you were able to rejoin us for part or all of 2666 (and Frances and I can both vouch for how rewarding it has been to take on the novel in the rematch so to speak). By the way, I don't recall you ever having written "a lot of gibberish" about any book much less 2666. In any event, it'd be great to add your point of view to the mix in February should you have the time. Until then, thanks for the visit!

      Eliminar
  6. Oh man..."descent into the maelstrom" indeed. I'm hanging onto the edge of the cliff by my fingertips now. I'll have a post up in the next day or so. Suffice it to say for the moment: LURV and simultaneously ACK!

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Sarah, your status as a Savage Detectives fan but a first-time reader of 2666 has made your post one of my most eagerly awaited. Now that you've checked in with these comments, I'm even more excited to hear what you have to say! Anyway, no rush on the post--others will be posting this weekend as well. Cheers!

      Eliminar
  7. Savage Detectives is an easier read for me but I have a greater admiration for the pieces of SD I find in 2666, and the impact of the latter overall. Have never read a book that touched my dream life, in not always pleasant ways, more than 2666. Keep putting off those crimes.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. I haven't started "The Part About the Crimes" yet but more because I keep putting off my initial follow-up post and less because of the sort of thing you mention. Haunting, terrible scenes, check, but another check for some of Bolaño's most ambitious, most captivating writing as I remember it from the first time around. By the way, thanks for weighing in on The Savage Detectives vs. 2666 debate; I can't argue with your reasoning and I might even feel the same to an extent, but that middle section of the earlier book is so rife with great storytelling from the proliferation of distinctive narrators that I have a hard time assigning it something as "lowly" as a silver medal.

      Eliminar