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2666

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Posted

I'm reading the novel 2666. If anyone wishes to discuss it, you can do it here. :)

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Posted

Somebody co-read 2666 with me! :x

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Posted

I'm happy to read it again. :) How shall we break it up?

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Posted

I'm reading it amongst my readings and be more than happy to join in some discussion. By means of sloppy summary, the first part for me is about how lost people can really get. In this case, lost academics in search of what is already lost to them, a life which is anything but ornamental, could we say, banal? When they try to get closer to life, in relationships, in the promise of love, in interacting with eager young minds, the chance and awe in visiting unexplored lands (Mexico) or areas of cities (the buzz of London), it is when they are most apart from it. It seems no coincidence that much of their interaction happens across the cold wire of telephones, at best the quick shag weekend. When at last an outsider indicates to them what their life seems to mean to him, rather than reflect or listen or ignore the fellow, they shamelessly attack the man and almost kill him. These academics are not human, but violent ghosts. They fly the continents, take desperate round trips to nowhere. They are lost individuals passing the time, simply because they happen to exist. They seem bored, wanting more but offering little in exchange. They exist under the self-deception that they are in search of something, but when the opportunity arises, one just as quick goes home, the other does little more than read the same books day after day, whilst the other buys rugs and his way into beds. This first part of the story is, I believe, not about any search for truth but about failed encounters.

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Posted

I'm happy to read it again. :) How shall we break it up?

:)

It seems we could just break it up into its five sections (I believe there are five) and discuss them in that order.

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Posted

I

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Posted

Just a few comments for now while I re-read...

The sojourn of Lola in Part 2 [...] is by far those affecting part of the novel so far, in my opinion.

Wait until you get to part 4. :(

There's a line at the close of part 1, in which Pelletier says: "The important thing is something else entirely." He is speaking of the fact that Archimboldi is in Santa Teresa, or so Pelletier believes, but I think this is the summation of the overall purpose (one of many, no doubt) to date: the literary critics spend their lives fornicating, reading and debating readings of Archimboldi, someone they've never spoken to and who, by virtue of his decision to be a recluse, wants no part of their analyses; and yet they don't care about much else, certainly not the ominous events taking place in Santa Teresa. Bolaño is scathing with literary critics in some of his other works and it seems his objections centre on the irrelevance of the critical craft, the ignorance and apathy towards terrible events elsewhere and the inability or unwillingness of the critic to challenge him- or herself to the very limits, as coping with the deaths would require.

Amalfitano says something interesting in this connexion earlier in this part: "Everything becomes a habit, he said, but none of the critics paid much attention to this last remark." He also talks about exile, having left Chile after the coup in Chile (as Bolaño did). He calls it "a natural movement" that "helps to abolish fate". Pelletier responds that exile "is full of inconveniences" that "interfere with anything you try to do that's important", whereupon Amalfitano remarks that this is exactly what he meant by abolishing fate. When we get to the next part and see why Amalfitano is concerned about his daughter, this will make more sense and take on greater meaning, I think.

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Posted

Oh, lord, this book is savage.

I

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Posted

My reaction at this point is that the murders are in part, but only in part, symbolic representations of the �disappearing� and torture and killings of untold numbers of people under the Pinochet regime and other right-wing dictatorships in Latin America and elsewhere. I think, though, that the killings have multi-layered meanings and it would be a mistake to see them solely as figurative representations of the Allende years.

You should bear in mind that the murders are based on real events in Ciudad Ju�rez (see here for an overview), which Bolaño spent a long time studying.

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Posted

I did not know he was writing about real events. Amazing the horrors that take place in the world that you are only dimly aware of, if at all. Which also seems to be one of the points of the book -- how the killings barely impact on anyone's consciousness.

Earlier in the book there was a monologue or a dialogue about how killings are real only if they happen to someone other than the poor and anonymous.

I do think he's using these killings as a symbol of something larger. But what that is will have to wait until the final part of the book. Everything else for me is pure speculation. Meanwhile it's almost impossible to get through the Part About the Crimes.

---------- Post added at 14:03 ---------- Previous post was at 14:00 ----------

"2660 murders during 2009..." Very close to the title of the book. But pure coincidence, since the book is published and Bolano is dead by 2009. Strange.

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Posted

I found I could only read The Part About The Crimes a few pages at a time before having to put the book down again. I think that knowing these were real events made it harder, if that's possible. I suspect you're right about the killings being a backdrop to demonstrate indifference and I think if we read the earlier chapters again we can see this critique playing out more powerfully, especially with the literary critics themselves. For me, this chronicling of horror is the most brutal I've ever read, the moreso because it's largely real and no one cares, which functions as a direct (and convincing) indictment of the reader, too, which is probably the point.

Given your guesses about Archimboldi, I'll be interested to know what you think come the end of the book. :) For your suggestions about Pinochet, I think you'd enjoy other works by Bolaño, including Nazi Literature in the Americas and Distant Star.

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Posted

Yes, I'm really, really having a hard time getting through this chapter.

As a literary exercise in might be interesting to compare and contrast Bolano's descriptions and use of violence with Cormac McCarthy's. They really seem different to me, but it's hard to say just how or what it means at the moment. Just at the moment I'd say that strangely enough, McCarthy's violence seems more endurable than Bolano's. Which is really saying something.

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Posted

I've got about 40 pages to go in The Part About the Crimes. I've never read such a compendium of atrocities, one piled on top of the other, page after page ... this makes Cormac McCarthy's works look like Dick and Jane stories. :(

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Posted

davidm, I sometimes wonder why we do this to ourselves? I am curious, have you ever lost sleep over a work of particular fictional character or literary work? I remember as a young lad losing sleep having had a day full of reading Nietzsche. More recently, The Judge from McCarthy's Blood Meridian caused such deep levels of disturbance in me that my weary eyes and mind simply could not make the transition into sleep....

Is this pain, the pain we experience perhaps not just in the depiction of violent acts or crimes, but also in the destroying of our "comforting metaphysical pillows," something we suffer through with higher ends in mind? Is it this pain, and by pain I suppose I also mean possibly revulsion, disgust, or discomfort, that is what makes a particular work ultimately desirable to read in our eyes? If so, for God's sake, are we masochists of the mind?

I plumbed the depths of this experience of pain induced from literature in reading American Psycho; I suppose it is a positive thing that I can still experience this pain, a testament to being in possession of a soul as yet not wholly callused and immune to empathetic feelings. I should say, on reading reviews of American Psycho, I found people who praised the work because of the sexual violence, not because this violence was part of a higher truth or message, but the violence in itself- this disturbed the hell out of me.

....just some thoughts....

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Posted

davidm, I sometimes wonder why we do this to ourselves?

Good question. :(

I'll elaborate on this more later, the queston being: why am I reading this?

But because I am reading this, I wish to announce that I have achieved the end of The Part About The Crimes, and have embarked, with terrible foreboding, upon the final chapter: The Part About Archimboldi. *shudder*

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Posted

I'd actually quite like to read this book, now. It sounds thoroughly entertaining.

Having not read the book, I have no authority to comment, except to ask questions.

The title '2666' strikes me as being quite Biblical ('666'), and I was wondering if this is done deliberately? According to wikipedia, there are 2666 years between the Hebrew exodus and the Creation. However, I'm not sure what significance this would have except to establish the Biblical undertones (overtones?) within the book.

Hence, I'm curious as to whether one should read the title as 2:666. Clearly, some abominations take place in the story, and there is grief and misery quite befitting to an apocalyptic prophecy. Hence, '666' would be an apt reflection of the book's mood and character. However, that perversity might also be exemplified by the implicit denial of Christian doctrine. By labelling it as the 2nd '666', the author is, in my humble view, rejecting the idea that Revelations marked the end of it all. He is thus, by the very methods he uses to invoke God, and the Beast, casting them aside.

I might be totally wrong, but there is something of a blasphemous perversity in my interpretation of the title that would not be amiss in the novel discussed within this thread.

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Posted

So...I'm about halfway or so through "The Part About the Crimes" and the thing I'm struck with so far has little to do with content, but rather the way in which the pacing is varied throughout the book. Part One had the heavy, detailed, cumbersome feel of a piece of literary criticism; contrast with the breezy way in which Part Four is unfolding, breezy to the point that I am thoroughly desensitized to the rapes and murders that are being described. I find myself far more emotionally involved with the Inspector & Elvira as well as Lalo Cura's travails. Very anxious to get to Part Five and learn something about Archimboldi.

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Posted

Beast, thanks for the interesting speculation about the title. The reality is that no one knows what it means but there's a mention of it in Bolaño's Amulet, in which he is describing the Avenida Guerrero as similar to a cemetery:

...a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.

Welcome to TGL, seriousbee. Do you think the pacing emphasises what we discussed above about intentionally desensitising us to the violence?

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Posted

I have only 39 pages left to go in the whole novel. Now I know who Archimboldi is, and I even have from him a quote for my sig to rival Campanella's "red slop" sig. it is:

History' date=' which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.[/quote']

:twisted:

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Posted

Beast, thanks for the interesting speculation about the title. The reality is that no one knows what it means but there's a mention of it in Bolaño's Amulet, in which he is describing the Avenida Guerrero as similar to a cemetery:

...a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.

Welcome to TGL, seriousbee. Do you think the pacing emphasises what we discussed above about intentionally desensitising us to the violence?

I do, but let me be clear...reading this is a lot like the time I read Ulysses in college and the ever-present question was some variation of "what in the hell is going on here?" I sense a thematic unity (I'm about halfway through part 4), and I feel like there's a ghost in the book (for lack of a better way of articulating it) that keeps cropping up here and there. Ghost or red herrings, I'm not sure. I keep thinking that one of the critics must have had an encounter with the killer(s) in part 1, but I can't pin it down. Maybe I'm remembering something from part 2. I refuse to backtrack too much right now, on my first reading, but I can totally tell that this book is going to necessitate a reread in the near future.

The only really intelligent thing I can offer right now is that this novel is truly like none other I've ever read, and I can only imagine how it's going to distill into the greater literary conversation over the next couple of decades.

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Posted

I do, but let me be clear...reading this is a lot like the time I read Ulysses in college and the ever-present question was some variation of "what in the hell is going on here?" I sense a thematic unity (I'm about halfway through part 4), and I feel like there's a ghost in the book (for lack of a better way of articulating it) that keeps cropping up here and there.

Yes, I’d say so.

I finished the book last night, the final 39 pages. I should have anticipated that the author would have one more trick up his sleeve, but I didn’t anticipate that the final 39 pages would be another novel; a novel just 39 pages long. But then the whole book consists of novels within novels within novels, producing the dizzying sense of mise en abîme—placing into infinity, or placing into the abyss. The final part, The Part About Archimboldi, was for me by far the best part of the book, and the final pages were magnetic. They were also the most humanly moving part of the novel.

Literature can be dangerous if you take it too seriously. Unfortunately I do, and after I read the final line I looked up and thought about how completely useless reality was to me, after reading this book. And I also completely understood, after finishing the book, its introductory quote from Baudelaire: An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom. I also thought about Kafka’s line that a book must be “ the ax for the frozen sea within us.”

I found it spine-tingling (not to give anything away in particular, I hope) to read on Page 887, with just six pages left to go in 2666, of a broken old woman flying from Frankfurt to Los Angeles on her way to Santa Teresa, Mexico, who on the plane is reading a book she bought at random at a bookstore at the airport. A book by an author she never heard of. The dawning sense of disorientation and then astonishment at what she was reading is impossible to describe. She thinks:

The writing was clear and sometimes even transparent, but the way the stories followed one after another didn’t lead anywhere; all that was left were the children, their parents, the animals, some neighbors, and in the end, all that was really left was nature, a nature that dissolved little by little in a boiling cauldron until it vanished completely.

There is a point in the book in which Archimboldi leans out a window, I think it is in Venice, and says, “Listen: nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.” And another point that he is walking in a desert, I think, and just says over and over, Boredom boredom, boredom….

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Posted (edited)

I'm about thirty pages from the end of part 4. Murder after murder after murder after murder of women & girls and finally I find myself disturbed only by the murders of a few men:

The (presumed) death of Harry Magñana and especially the castration of the Caciques left me feeling sickened.

Interesting that he would write it in such a way as to garner a response only over the men. I felt sickened about what's portrayed, and then sickened about my own response, and then finally sickened about the truth about our culture that is being revealed.

I can't believe how good this novel is.

Edited by seriousbee

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Posted

Being a first-time reader of '2666', I was wondering if anyone would care to join me in a detailed discussion of the first part of the book, as I read it?

Thus far - and this is far from a criticism - the focus of discourse appears to have been on 'The Part about the Crimes'. Perhaps, this is due to the nature of this forum's members; being of philosophical nature (and typically eager to evaluate what one's approach to life might say about one's self), I'm sure it has been of greater interest to analyse 'The Part about the Crimes', proffering, as it does, opportunity to speculate about one's own socio-literary nature.

In short, part four looks to have forced readers to - despite being horrified - doubt their own moral code, as the lack of typical writerly methods employed to provoke emotion are absent from Bolano's novel, and the reader is consequently subdued into not caring for the victims. Perhaps, if that is the case, it would be interesting to reread some fiction whereby the style is geared entirely towards provoking horror, or disgust, or sympathy, and to determine, from there, if those feelings stem from a moral or ethical stance, or whether one has simply been led, emotively, to feel remorse (or whatever emotion is appropriate) for what is reducible, ultimately, to ink on paper.

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I'll be very happy to join you, Beast. I want to re-read the book from the beginning and it would be great to go through it together, maybe a portion at a time. if anyone else wants to join in, try to get yourself a copy.

Btw, some fans of the author think his novel The Savage Detectives was even better than 2666. In terms of completely mastering a host of different voices at least, I'd agree, but we could move to that earlier work after this.

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