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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don't waste your Time Searching for Benno von Archimboldi: Book Review of 2666

One of the ways I expand my imagination is reading literature.  I read widely, all kinds of things, much of it not Christian. I find that God excites my imagination, but like a muscle the imagination must be stretched.  The stronger, more flexible my imagination is, the more capable I am of seeing God at work in the world and appreciating and joining in on the work God is doing.  So, for the sake of growing my thinking cells and building my capacity for imagination I read.  Writing a book review helps me process what I've read.  
The book I review here, "2666," is not a Christian story.  And, it is an R-rated novel.  I decided to follow it through until the end, but I don't really recommend it.  If you are thinking about reading this or other works by Roberto Bolano, remember, it's typically R-rated literature and does not promote Christianity.  

Here's my review of "2666" by Roberto Bolano:

Giles Harvey writes an article in the New Yorker online ( giving an overview of the workd of Chilean author Roberto Bolano.  I had trouble trusting Harvey's review because he lists "Nazi Literature in the Americas" as one of his top for suggestions for "navigating the Bolano labyrinth."  "Nazi Literature" is, he writes,  "every bit as fun as it sounds."  That's true.  It sounds miserable and it is.  I only read it (parts of it) because he recommended it as a way into the Bolano oeuvre.   That book is nothing more than a way into glum tedium.

However, for me, Harvey redeems himself at the end of his article on Bolano.  He writes, "Avoid '2666' for as long as possible, and for heaven's sake, don't start with it."  I laughed upon reading that sentence, because at that point, I was 10% percent into my first encounter with Bolano - "2666."  I kept at it, but per Harvey's advice, I picked up "Nazi Literature" and also "Last Evenings on Earth."  I will eventually read "Savage Detectives" and "By Night in Chile" as he suggests, but later.

I need a break from Bolano.

Harvey wrote of "2666."   Harvey says, "The book is a desert of negative space across which the panting reader will search in vain for the traditional pleasures of the novel.  ... The result is neither horror nor sympathy.  It is exhaustion."  He's right.  I cannot say I wasn't warned.  Harvey said, "Don't start with 2666."  I did.  He said it lacks all the traditional pleasures of the novel.  It does.

"2666" is almost 900 pages long, and Bolano could have accomplished his goals in maybe 400-500 pages.  Also, when he introduced interesting characters, he could let us know a little something about them later on instead of spending hundreds pages helping us get to know them only to have them drop unexpectedly out of the book with no explanation and no return.  He pulls the rug out like this over and over, throughout the book.

At the end of this novel, all I feel is unsatisfied.  

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