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This is the best book I read or listened to in 2009. The readers are very good, John Lee especially. Please don't be discouraged by the several negative reviews below. Most of these people gave up pretty early on, and the book is actually divided into five parts, each a short novel of its own.
To be fair to all those people who wrote negative reviews below (or by the time you read this, above) this one: Reading is like running, and there are all kinds of readers--sprinters, joggers, middle- and long-distance types...this book is definitely not a sprint, and it's not a casual jog, either, and you should be told that before you start. But I hope you go this distance anyway.
94 of 97 people found this review helpful
As the title suggests, 2666 is abstract and mysterious. The narrative is dark and unapologetically weird, but each character is crafted with such care that what could be a very intimidating story becomes addictive within just the first few chapters. It's definitively a great book - just look at the reviews - but it's even better in audio. The story is told by several fantastic narrators, each of whom read aloud a specific part that highlights their skill and personality. If you’re still not convinced, the book is 39 hours and at just one credit it's perfect for a road trip!
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
The narrators do a good job of recounting the story. Their delivery was professional and easy on the ear, though I can't stand the way Scott Brick delivers his narratives (Frank Herbert's Helstrom's Hive put me off him for life) but in the recounting of part 4 - the crimes - he is probably well suited to evoking a sense of Bolano's Schadenfreude at the rapes and murders that he describes ad nauseum. Listening to the relentless drone I wondered if Bolano's purpose in this section of the book wasn't his own perverse pleasure but was designed to evoke a feeling of loathing for humanity from his readers - total immersion in the sense of futility of any thought of redemption for human kind. Like saying humanity has certain self-images (intelligent, sophisticated and civilised) that 'it' is constantly reinforcing to make us feel that we are not the base animals that we evolved from but that we still carry within us such instincts; and here is the evidence, and here and here and here, etc. We are either the deer or we are the tiger and either way we die eventually and usually with pain and suffering. In any case I thought section 4 laboured the point. Part 5 wasn't exactly a tea party either taking place as it does during the brutality of Europe in WWII.
Its a long haul book but worth the journey if you don't mind getting dirty and roughing it a bit along the way.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about 2666?
This is so tricky. There is brilliance throughout, along with occasional tedium, and horror. Its how it comes together as a work afterwards, and on reflection. It makes other novels look a bit light.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I loved Benno Von-Archimboldi. What a brilliant name to choose for yourself, and what a confluence of ideas and themes this character represents, both to the reader, and to several of the other characters in the book.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
The final chapter detailing how Haans Richter becomes Benno Von Archimboldi was very satisfying, or at least as close to that as this book comes!
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Didn't make me laugh, didn't make me cry, but left me feeling contemplative for a good long time. (Still having the effect a few days after finishing.) Has also left my next book feeling really simplistic and light, Its like 2666 has changed the rules in my head for what a book should be.
Any additional comments?
There is a part of this novel which is hard to get through, The part about the murders. It is relentless, and depressing, and is the under-current to about 2/3rds of the book. It deadened me to the emotion of what was being described because i just couldn't allow myself to feel the horror for the length of time it was being described. It is an essential part of the book, and there is no getting away from it, and its link to real life events, and real life and very dark human psychology.Basically be warned! not a happy novel.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
this is a story of themes driven in fiction but presenting a number of interesting real world problems of crime, family, guilt, ideology, corruption and more. don't expect a traditional beginning middle and end but listen for the experience and expression. if you can do this i think you'll find yourself in a thoroughly
captivating and unsettling world.
This sprawling novel in five diverse parts feels like being swallowed whole by an ocean of currents and amazing sights. The detailed descriptions of places, the lengthy dialogues that in their triviality and banality (and occasional laugh-out-loud humour) build not just a picture of life but a sense of life itself. The calm delivery of shocking images together make this an amazing and pleasurable 40 hours.