Monday, February 23, 2009

In the interest of presenting conflicting points of view, I present some negative reviews of 2666 taken directly from, which is host to anyone with anything to say about a book or CD or whathaveyou:

"I bought this book based on reviews, big mistake this time. I spent most of my time looking up defintions to 100's of words. I hated the spewing of authors I'd never heard of. The writing or words are geared towards intellectuals. I haven't even finished this book, I can't seem to get past the long winded boring little stories leading me somewhere in the slowest pace possible to nowhere. Maybe I'll get around to finishing it, but based on the 1 star reviews, I may not end up enjoying this book at all, even in some of the 4 star reviews they claim this book is more for academics or writers interested in the creative processes. BORING."

"I fully admit that Bolano is smarter and better-read than I am. So is Umberto Eco. But when Eco starts rattling off the names of other literary works, as he does with some frequency in, say, 'Foucault's Pendulum,' it always feels like it's relevant to the plot. In '2666,' it feels like Bolano is just throwing out laundry lists of literature, philosophy, art, history, and even biology and math, solely to impress you with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. It may or may not relate to the plot, which isn't surprising, since there really isn't much of a plot. The five books that make up this volume are only loosely related, and even within the different books, there is not always much cohesion. Bolano will start out talking about one or more characters, but the minute he sees the literary equivalent of a shiny object, he runs off after it. While chasing said shiny object, he may see another shiny object and abandon the chase for the first one. At some point, he might remember what he was doing before he wandered off-course, but not always. The writing is very stream-of-consciousness with lots of accounts of people's dreams. If you don't mind rambling thoughts and 'deep' philosophy that goes on for so long that when he does occasionally return to an early character you find yourself wondering who he's talking about, you might be enchanted. But if you need to have characters that you love or like, or even ones you hate, you're out of luck here. […]Book 4 is l...o...n...g and, as others have noted, filled with lots of gruesome and sad details about the girls & women who've been raped and murdered. At first I thought, 'yes -- someone is giving these women an identity and a voice,' but after awhile there are so many of them, and so little story to them, that you stop caring. Again, this could be the point. There are some interesting characters in this section, but there are so many people, it's hard to know who or what is important. Maybe none of it is."

Like I always say, positive reviews alone are dull.