Should you read 2666? By Roberto Bolaño

What’s the book about?

               So, what is this book?  Is it a commentary on atomic weapons like Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle? Is it a high fantasy like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings?  Honestly, I don’t really know.  I mean, I know but not really.  2666 is broken into 5 parts with each part connecting to the others in a way.  Understanding what is on the surface is straightforward.  Each part follows a different character or characters and how they come to know about Santa Teresa and the murders that are happening there.  Yet I don’t think I understood even a tenth of what was hidden beneath the surface.  In fact, I think most readers feel the same way.  The characters in the book probably feel that way.  Heck, even Bolaño would struggle to give me some explanation about certain lines in the book if he was still alive.  It’s hard to follow the symbolism (if there is any) behind basically anything.   I still don’t know what the title of the books name even means after searching the internet for an answer.  The reason is, Bolaño never explains it in the book.  He never explained it at all.  The books name is still a mystery.

Well was it good?

               Pssh was it good?  Was it good?  Murder, violence, sex, mystery, foreshadowing, and let’s not forget the huge cliffhanger.  Well 2666 has all of this.  The book ends on a cliffhanger.  You don’t get to find out what happens to the characters because it ends.  Things were foreshadowed but the book ends just when everything was about to be put together.  A part 6 could have woven the first 5 parts together but Bolaño intended for the book to end this way.  In fact, the book got amazing reviews.

It was considered the best novel in 2005 within Spain and Latin America.  It got a lot of acclaim and a lot of critics gave it positive reviews.  It’s what some people call a “masterpiece”.  One reason I think some might consider this a “masterpiece” is because the overall structure is so unique.  It’s written in five parts with characters that don’t really know each other but are connected. 

What’s good about it?

               It’s interesting.  You read 5 parts of a story and most of the characters in the story don’t interact with each other.  Yet you can see events from multiple different perspectives as the characters hear and experience these events in different ways.  The book does connect the characters but it’s more like in a dream like fashion.  A character may dream of another or have a vague feeling that something is afoot.  It seems like the characters often aren’t sure what is going consciously but subconsciously have an idea of what is really happening. 

It’s like watching insects getting caught in a spider’s web.  Each character is an insect and the spider web is the city of Santa Teresa.  Each insect is unique and drawn into the web and caught a different way. The insects often pull the web when they struggle, and you can see how that connects to the other insects.  When an insect comes along that may break the web you don’t get to see the end.  Most books normally would focus simply on the struggle of the insect with the web and you would find out the fate of the insect.  Bolaño instead focuses on the insects in the web and how their actions can shake the web. 

Should you read it?

It’s worth the read if you have the time and not that many expectations.  Each of the 5 parts are different but I would suggest reading the 1st to see if you like it.  The other four parts are similar in the fact that they are interesting but don’t have a nice wrapped up ending.  It’s a memorable book and people tend to either love it or hate it. 

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