Reviews in 200 Words

2666 by Roberto Bolano (Guest Punch by Amos Magliocco)

In Novel (Guest Punch by Amos Magliocco) on December 9, 2009 at 3:35 pm

It’s understandable that Roberto Bolano intended to release 2666 in five parts, because reading it is an episodic experience, with a plot stretched almost unrecognizably by the end and a tone that circles its ensemble cast, methodically withdrawing all the implicit promises a contemporary reader expects. You’re dragged across hemispheres in search of the shrouded German novelist Archimboldi, the target of three romantically-entangled literary critics, then bludgeoned in The Part About the Crimes—a 300 page interlude where the mentronomic certainty of murder is a sensation you desperately want to escape. Bolano doesn’t care much for what you want, though. He offers frustration and occasional boredom, but installs a nagging momentum like the hum of a power line. You remain for moments like this: “At the first bend the village disappeared from sight and all she could see was a row of pines and the mountains multiplying in the night, all white, like nuns with no worldly ambitions.” Your reward for surviving, for reaching the final section, is a stunning capstone journey with Archimboldi through war and love and literature, a triumphant ending woven from earlier threads by now more like dreams than memory. The pattern leaves a dazzling impression.

Many thanks to Amos Magliocco for his Guest Punch! Check out Amos Magliocco’s websites: and

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