It’s the well-publicized summer of Infinite Jest, but after eight months wading through Roberto Bolaño’s 900-page 2666, all I have energy for is the occasional Facebook post. I want only morsels of text. Horoscopes. Marriage announcements. Billboards.
The unanimous “best of 2008,” I tell people I agree. I say I savored every word, every surreal situation, every hundred-page philosophical tangent.
Mostly true. In truth it started feeling like a slow death. Mid-way through its notorious fourth section I fatigued, reading in fits and bursts – laboring through the 300 pages where the terminally ill Bolaño escorts us to the multitudinous landfills, dusty fields and abandoned parking lots where the raped and murdered bodies of anonymous Mexican women lie in dry detail. It got repetitive. Boring. I’m not spoiling anything in saying there’s no resolution. There is catharsis, though: the feeling of a job-well done, both for the reader who gets through it and (apparently) the author who wrote with a pen in one hand and a sword in the other, fighting off his inevitable, tragic death at 50. There’s also beauty, wonder, sadness, and curious, visceral writing. It’s a slog well worth it. Get started while you still have time.