This is a great book. Too bad so many reviewers decided what it was about after listening to less than 10% of it. My reservation (indeed dismay) is that I have to concur with Nancy that the reader of the "Part About Fate" (whom I believe is G. Valmont Thomas) is not very good. In fact, his performance is without question the worst I have ever encountered in any audio book. He performs characters inconsistently, gives ridiculous and incongruous accents to characters, sometimes eschews accents altogether, overacts scenes like a 3rd rate high school theatre arts teacher, etc. His performance suggests he only read his part of the book, and had no idea what the book as a whole was about. It becomes quite comical at times. Fortunately, it's the shortest section, and eventually one is relieved at the advent of his replacement. G. Valmont Thomas: now that's quite a name, but an easy one to remember and try to avoid.
Normally I hate it when friends of mine read a book and complain that "nothing happens." Usually, it's just a slow build, or necessary exposition, or things happening by not happening--all of which can be done beautifully and in captivating ways. And while there's no doubt that Bolano's "2666" is a masterpiece is beautiful prose, it is a confusing, frustrating, and (dare I say it) somewhat boring story. The characters go in circles, nothing really ever happens, and after a while I just couldn't be bothered to try and follow or care anymore. It reminded me a lot of Faulkner's " Absalom, Absalom!", so if you are a fan of that novel or of Faulkner, then this may be up your alley. This may also be a great novel for those who are fans of Bolano--I can't really say, this being my first Bolano. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a novel for me. The narration, however, is quite good. All of the narrators capture different voices well and play the rhythm of Bolano's writing.
Say something about yourself!
39 hours long and I didn't want it to end.
For one thing, I had no idea where Bolano was going with this one--andl that is a treat. For another, even though this touches on some grim facts of life as humans in the world there are in this book a myriad of interesting tales and people. Very entertaining and often funny Sometimes I found myself in the midst of a conversation and said to myself--wait a minute, who are these people and how are they related to the character I was following? Going back just a few minutes always cleared that up.
On the performances--I enjoyed them all. But the first reader gets extra stars for making a very difficult text enjoyable, funny, easy to follow. There were four professors of German Literature, one from France, one from Italy, one from Spain, and one from England who just kept going to meetings and he made that fascinating. He is the reason I could get into this book--which was utterly rewarding.
I listened to this book twice, then bought the hard copy. I'm so glad to see that many other listeners reacted to it the same way I did. After a long lifetime of reading, it's not that often a "new" book enters my consciousness permanently the way this book has done. It seems timeless, yet absolutely focused on life as it is in our time. The readers are superb.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
There is a phenomenon going on in Juarez that is so enduring and so horrific that it just begs to be written about. But how can you write about something that is mysteriously ongoing and refuses to resolve itself? How can you not write about something so desperately in need of resolution? Bolano cannot give us closure on this but he can attempt to put into words how it feels to live in such a world. He does so in the broad leisurely way that it deserves. This is necessarily a painful book, but ultimately rewarding. How it is rewarding is difficult to put into words. Perhaps the book itself is the only way to verbalize that.
Bolano's writing is quite hypnotic, his ability to keep the reader / listener engaged and waiting in anticipation of the next word is truly magical. His goal of writing a "work" of substance and girth was certainly achieved, however it was disrupted by untimely circumstance. The book is incomplete, thus the 3 star rating.
The problem for me and why I'm not so motivated to finish it is, it doesn't sound like a Bolano book ought to sound, the accent doesn't remind you of Bolano, it reminds you of a stuffy British translator, totally ruins the experience for me.
At the beginning and then at the end it was clearly stated that the Author demanded that the five books that comprise 2666 be publshed separately. The author knew best. Each story is a stand alone that happens, vaguely, to touch upon the others. In each of the 2666 "books" Bolano delves deeply .. possibly too deeply .. into the lives of selected characters. It is possible that, taken alone, at least 2 or 3 of the tales would have been captivating, but taken altogether it is wearisome. I wouldn't ever recommend it to anyone else because I woudn't know what to tell them made it worth reading. The "narrators" for the most part were excellent except for Scott Brick who imparted his normal sardonic tone thus rending the narration a joke .. and since the subject was the murder of many women it was a bit too irreverent for my taste. I listened to the whole thing, and I'm not sure this is a feat to be proud of, or ashamed because I wasted so much time.
I am baffled by the positive reviews of this book.
I have listened to about four hours of it, and will go no farther. It has wasted enough of my time. So far, it has been four hours of some completely implausible academics wandering around Europe and Mexico vaguely looking for a mysterious German writer who may or may not exist, and participating in a limp love triangle that might be believable were they 12-year-olds. We get every tedious detail of their observations, including--I have just been hearing this part--all about whether a guy should take ice cream or a ham sandwich as a present to a pretty girl's brother, and then the exact ingredients of the chosen ham sandwich. Deep.
In sum, it was either calculated for maximum tedium as a caustic joke by the writer, or it is the work of someone with nothing to say and no story ideas who is just typing any dull thing that next comes into his mind. Ghastly.
Librarian, father, fantasy fool and tech enthusiasts.
The only problem with this master piece is its length. It's impossible to grasp it all in one go, but it makes me want to start again straight away!