Thursday, May 03, 2012

Just a little more on 2666

...because I'm obsessed, still hung over, grasping at the fading glimmers this novel's explosion left in my psyche.

I came across this piece, In the Labyrinth: A User's Guide to Bolaño, on the New Yorker web site. Now, I actually receive the New Yorker at my home on a mostly regular basis, but I hadn't read this piece. I believe that's because, back in February, I was still resenting Bolaño for being dead and yet *still* getting published in the New Yorker more often than almost anyone else. This writing gig is hard enough, New Yorker editors! Must we compete with the deceased as well?

Anyway, the "User's Guide" is mostly interesting and helpful, although I plan to read all of Bolaño's work anyway. And then there was this:

Avoid “2666” for as long as possible, and for heaven’s sake, don’t start with it. The book is a desert of negative space across which the panting reader will search in vain for the traditional pleasures of the novel: form, character, coherence, meaning.

No, no, yes, yes, yes, and this is why you should read it. It's not a "traditional" novel, but what 2666 proves is that the novel is not synonymous with the bildungsroman or the romance. True, it's the rare writer who can pull off the *appearance* of formlessness and characterlessness. Melville, I'd say, was one. As in Moby-Dick, the only real character here is the universe (differently conceived, but still incomprehensible). And as for the piece's other complaint, that the huge section on the killings in Ciudad Juárez leads to nothing but "exhaustion," again--yes. I believe that is the intended and the appropriate response.

Anyway, read 2666!

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