I’m astonished by the amount of attention Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 has been getting recently, including Time naming it the Best Book of 2008. I agree, of course, with all the praise and intend to reread the book soon in English, slowing down this time to pick up whatever stray weirdness and glimmers I may have missed. When I read it in 2004 I had the sensation of what readers of Cortázar’s Rayuela must have felt in the mid-sixties, the realization that you’re in the presence of a book that changes the landscape around itself. Certain books take on a talismanic quality as your read them, and Bolaño’s two major novels had that effect on me. It just feels odd to see a personal reading landscape being proclaimed in newspaper and magazine headlines. I usually think of my tastes as being relatively marginal. Bolaño’s choice of Baudelaire as a starting point for this book seems completely appropriate as a hinge into whatever arcades we’re now proceeding through at the turn of the century. The Savage Detectives and 2666 serve as platforms from which Bolaño’s ghost accompanies us without pretense, ideology, prophecy or resolution. Earnest ambition reiterating the book as a practical talisman, portable in the convenient 3-tome paperback edition FSG has just published.
“In 1935, Ivanov’s novels were withdrawn from bookstores. A few days later, an official notice informed him of his expulsion from the party. According to Ansky, Ivanov spent three days unable to get out of bed. On the bed were his three novels and he reread them constantly, searching for something that might justify his expulsion. He moaned and whimpered and tried unsuccessfully to take refuge in his earliest childhood memories. He stroked the spines of his books with heartbreaking melancholy. Sometimes he got up and went over to the window and spent hours looking into the street.” (724)