National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2009
Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa—a fictional Juárez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.
©2004 the heirs of Roberto Bolaño; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This winner of the 2008 National Book Critics' Circle Award for Fiction is the master work from "one of the greatest and most influential modern writers" (James Wood, New York Times Book Review)
"...think of David Lynch, Marcel Duchamp (both explicitly invoked here) and the Bob Dylan of Highway 61 Revisited, all at the peak of their lucid yet hallucinatory powers." (Janet Maslin, New York Times)
"It is safe to predict that no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” (George R. R. Martin)
This is easily my favorite audiobook of the year. Bolano's haunting masterpiece is epic in scope and truly lends itself to audio due to its cinematic nature - a must-listen for any fans of literary fiction.
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.
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.
2666 is a work (or several works) which never actually does more than touch on several interesting subjects. One work touches on the supernatural and then we abandon that story. Another spends hours and hours merely listing deaths both relevant and irrelevant to the work. Many interesting characters are met along the journeys but as soon as something catches your attention which may lead to a storyline all of its own the author abandons it (snuff films, otherworldly voices, the mexican underground, corporate coverups, corrupted government/police officials). The book is well written, but well written and intelligent do not, in this case lead to entertainment value in the least. I'm growing very tired of authors seemingly writing books to display the fact that they are knowledgeable in many different subjects and ridiculously over-educated in the works of many other authors. Sorry about my review as I've finally finished the book, it's late, and I'm upset that I kept telling myself to stick with it because something has to be revealed about one of the storylines.
I enjoyed most of the 5 narrators's performances. None were truly horrible, or hindered the content of the book.
Half to three quarters of the characters should have been cut to actually focus on a story. Not a single one of the 5 works had any completion to them, as if the author had grown bored with the lives of the characters he'd started writing about only to continuously do the same with each new character he introduced. I understand the author died before truly completing this but one could assume that a few of the 5 arching storylines would be completed.
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.
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.
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.
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 bought this in Jan/2010 and have tried to get thru it at least 3 times and have never heard the last of book 1 (or part 1). The narrator makes me sleepy and is so boring in his pedantic style of reading that he is as bad as the author. Wish I could get it exchanged for something better....this in my opinion does not deserve the 1 star I gave it.....jd
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