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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tonight we’re gonna blog it like it’s 2666

Posted by Adam Roberts on 02/07/10 at 09:51 AM

Not tonight, actually: but sometime this week.  I got Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 for Christmas, and now I’m finally getting around to reading it.  As I’m sure you know, Bolaño wanted this huge novel published as five separate books—here’s the ‘Note From The Author’s Heirs’ with which the book opens:

Realizing that death might be near, Roberto left instructions for his novel 2666 to be published divided into five books corresponding to the five parts of the novel, specifying the order in which they should appear, at what intervals (one a year), and even the price to be negotiated with the publisher.  With this decision, communicated days before his death by Roberto himself to Jorge Herralde, Roberto thought he was providing for his children’s future.

The note goes on to explain how blithely his executors disregarded this decision, hence the microwave-oven-proportioned book sitting on the desk in front of me.  My plan is to blog my reading, book by book, as I go through it.  I’ll start with book 1, ‘The Part About the Critics’, later this week. Wednesday, maybe.  If you wanted to read along with me, comment and so on, that would be very nice.  But I’ll understand if not.  I don’t mind blogging in a vacuum.  For are we not all, in an existential sense, ultimately blogging in a vacuum?

I have never previously read a Bolaño novel; but if this one’s half as good as the hype suggests, I daresay I’ll go back over his backlist.  The Savage Detectives is supposed to be pretty good.


Cool! I really enjoyed “The Savage Detectives,” but largely because I felt it was so clever in how managed to both nostalgically embrace the kind of youthful exuberance and idealism of its youthful protagonists (which are, of course, the younger versions of Bolano and his cohort) and absolutely mercilessly skewer their callow artistic pretensions from the perspective of a grizzled and disillusioned cynicism of age. Those kinds of “portrait of an artist growing up” books so rarely get the idealism of youth and the disillusion of old age right as the dialectic they are, but that’s one of the things TSD does so marvelously. It makes me wonder, though, whether that’s the sort of thing Bolaño could do twice; he’s such a writer about writing (as the first part of 2666 illustrates, the only one I got through before running out of steam) that I have a hard time imagining how he could do it again without repeating himself, but he also seems like the kind of writer who would do it, and well. I look forward to finding out, whenever I actually finish the novel.

By on 02/07/10 at 12:04 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Good luck for the journey, Adam! I read “The Savage Detectives” just before Christmas and also enjoyed the “young idiots” aspect of it, as well as the narrative structure of the middle bit (built on the idea of a narratee going from character to character in search of the story of Bolano et al, which mirrors what they themselves did). But my problem was a feeling of constantly missing something, since I sensed layers and layers of allusions and references to Spanish and South American literature that I know nothing about. And that got to be a drag.
Looking forward to hearing whether that applies to “2666”, if not, I’ll definitely give it a go!

By on 02/07/10 at 02:45 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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