by Roberto Bolano
Faced with 2666 - all 898 pages of it - a short review seems more than usually laughable. Then again, how long a review would you need to do justice to this powerful, unusual and, let it not be forgotten, enjoyable novel? On the surface, enjoyment seems a forlorn hope: 2666 was largely composed when Roberto Bola?o was dying of the liver disease that plagued his life. Yet, as his previous book The Savage Detectives showed, the Chilean was a master of his craft, mixing different narrative forms (dialogue, diaries, realism), characters who tend to be vibrant, complicated outsiders, politics, art and quite a lot of sex. 2666 is divided into five sections, each a worthy novel in its own right. The first part follows the travels and travails of four literary critics as they search for a cult German novelist called Benno von Archimboldi, who may or may not live in a Mexican town called Santa Teresa. This is the setting for the next two 'books' - but now our heroes are an American journalist and a disillusioned academic. Slowly, the dark side of Santa Teresa emerges as a series of brutal killings, all of young women, slowly comes to light. 2666 may take 2,666 days to read, but it will be worth it in the end.