Friday, January 30, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 28.1 (Roberto Bolaño)

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Bolaño, Roberto

This is easily the most talked about book of the year. I bought it at Talking Leaves...Books in Buffalo. I just finished reading the Spanish language hardcover version a month or so ago. It arrived from Spain with a damaged cover, but I was primed and ready to go, having spent two months waiting for it to arrive after finishing and loving The Savage Detectives, so I took the damaged book without complaint.

In the meantime, Lori and I had purchased a house, moved in, and starting working away at it. The previous owners had lived there for 36 years and were heavy smokers. We spent three weeks wiping tar off the woodwork and the walls. In case this ever happens to you, I highly recommend a product called "LA's Totally Awesome!" It's a spray cleaner that can be purchased at Family Dollar for almost nothing. When you spray it on to tar-stained wood, it froths up into a black foam that oozes toward the floor. In a word, it's nasty, but effective. And there's something very satisfying about wiping that black froth off the wall. Please, don't get me started on home improvement.

While I waited for 2666 to arrive, I tried reading Don Quixote in Spanish. I got about half-way through it, but it really tested the limits of my Spanish reading ability, filled as it is with archaisms and so forth. I intend to go back to it, possibly soon. Possibly.

2666 arrived in October. I was happy to receive my copy about 3 weeks before it was released in English so I could get a head start on the rest of America. It's a powerful and disturbing book, much of whose narrative concerns the more than 450 murders (and beatings and rapes) of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, over the last ten or twelve years. The accumulation of violence in the book is almost too much to bear, but the writing and storytelling are so exceptional that you are able, eventually, to rise to some sort of catharsis.

Did I mention that I love Roberto Bolaño? Well, I do.

Here's an excerpt at the NY Times website:

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