— Field Notes

Roberto Bolaño

2666 published posthumously in Spain in 2004 one year after the death of Mr. Bolaño, the now famous and celebrated Chilean author, is a complex and convoluted tale with a grand and dark cast of characters.

“ I conceive, in a very humble way, the totality of my oeuvre in prose, and even some of my poetry, as a whole. A whole not only stylistic, but also narrative. The characters are continously dialoging among them and they are appearing and dissapearing. “ – Robert Bolaño

If Mr. Bolaño is describing his complete body of work in the above quote, 2666 must be considered the Mother Lode. 2666 and Bolaño other work can be consider a break from the cliched “Magic Realism” popular in Latin American Fiction. Bolaño and authors like Ignacio Padilla have choosen to leave the magic behind and focus more on character and plot ala Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges.

2666 is broken into multiple sections or novellas that placed together make a whole. The dark core of the novel focuses on Saint Teresa which is a fictional representation of Ciudad Juárez, the border town, site of many grisly murders of women and girls. These murders are fictionalized and documented by Bolaño and make for difficult reading. 2666 is both linear and a non-linear in style. It consists of stories within stories, many of the characters tell stories to each other or relate dreams to the reader. It makes for a complex plot.

The center of the novel called The Part About The Crimes is more realistic less poetic more like reportage. The real Ciudad Juárez is a part of a vast “Metroplex” of more than 2 million people. It is in the junture of three states Texas, New Mexico and Chilhuahua Mexico. It is the largest border community in the world and is growing at an astounding 5% a year. In 2666 Ciudad Juárez is a nightmare world.

I can’t conclude this brief review with out a few words of praise for the translator Natasha Wimmer. She has done a herculean job and done it well.

Reprinted from Text Northwest

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