Reading 2666 (or, Why Did I Do This To Myself?)

12 Feb

I am still slogging through 2666, and I keep looking longingly at my beautiful stack of new books that look so modern and shiny and short by comparison (especially Little Hands Clapping by Dan Rhodes). I’m reading other stuff in between, but I feel like my whole reading process has slowed way down, all because of this big fat masterpiece.

I’m still waiting for it to get good (granted, I have about 800 pages to go, so it could happen), but I really don’t think I can take any more dream sequences. It’s not fun when a regular person says “it was like I was in my old school, but it wasn’t a school, y’know?”, and it’s not much easier to follow when Bolaño does it, either. Though I must admit, one of the nightmares really was terrifying (Liz Norton and the mirror, and the person in the mirror is herself, but not herself, y’know?). And I kind of appreciated the fact that after one of the long, meandering, metaphorical passages that the book is full of, a character actually says “Really, I’ve just been talking nonsense.” Yeah, thanks. When do the murders start?

I’m a huge fan of Robertson Davies, so you’d think I’d be up for the wide, sweeping epic thing, the symbolism and the academic squabbling.  Then again, I think I read Fifth Business two or three times before it became my favourite book, and I am not going to read this sucker again.

So why am I forcing myself to finish it? Because a friend lent it to me and sweetly wrote on the inside, “Dear Lija, Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. x”! And if he’s going to be so delightfully casual about enjoying this monster of a book, I sure as hell better at least finish it.

7 Responses to “Reading 2666 (or, Why Did I Do This To Myself?)”

  1. savidgereads February 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Oh those pesky thoughtful friends who recommend. lend or even buy us books it irks me so hahahaha. I do admire you I have looked at that book on many an occasion and thought ‘could I’ and then have not. Cant wait for your final thoughts. Its not helpful if I say Little Hands Clapping is brilliant is it?

  2. Lija February 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    No, it’s not! I might reward myself with it when I hit the half-way mark with this one.

  3. farmlanebooks February 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    2666 is a big commitment and it felt like a chore almost all the way through. I recommend reading one part a month and letting yourself read lots of other books between each part. I do think it is worth it in the end, but a lot of the time I was very frustrated with it.

    I also think it helps to read along with others. If you can’t do this then make sure you read other people’s thoughts at the end of each part – it gives everything a lot more meaning.

    Good luck!

  4. Lija February 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks for the tip, Jackie. Apparently he wanted the five different parts to be published separately anyway, so that might be the way to do it!

  5. Sasha February 15, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    I love this post, Lija! A friend of mine has been reading 2666, and told me I should read it. I looked at the sheer fatness of the book and said, “I think I’ll pass.” Haha, I’m not even tempted!

    And yes, an edition was published as a five-book box set. So maybe you could divide it that way? :]

    • Lija February 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks! I’m going ahead with the five book reading as suggested by Jackie. Now I can read my shiny short stuff without shame.


  1. I quit! (2666) « the Writer's Pet - June 9, 2010

    […] signs were not good, right from the start. I complained vigorously about Part 1 and 2 back in February. I also took to Twitter to bitch about it on a regular basis. Mercifully, […]

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