Bolaño’s literary body is woven tightly together without ever being sewn up, and in 2666 – his final novel before his death in 2003 at age 50 – he refuses still to close old wounds and old characters. While the title has been said to refer to the Biblical Exodus from Egypt, a mystical future date of redemption, or simply an earlier novel, the story’s wobbly orbit is Santa Theresa – generally considered to be a fictionalized version of Ciudad Juárez in northern Mexico. It is here that a flood of unexplained murders of young women has threaded itself into a pervasive atmosphere of dread. Like many of Bolaño’s works, the dread is not so much fixed on a point as existential, with the events of the book coloring and being colored by it as they weave to the fore and to the background. The city and its murders are never too far behind, even when globetrotting around Europe (in “The Part About the Critcs”), moving backwards through time (“The Part About Archimboldi”) or following a sportswriter (“The Part About Fate”). A harrowing fourth section – “The Part About the Crimes” – is a masterfully rendered portrait of this landscape, and may have you putting down the book a few times to regroup. No light reading, that.
For those new to Bolaño’s world, it might be said that the equally masterful Savage Detectives or the more compact Distant Star would be better starting points. That might even be so. But, then, that’s the beauty of Bolaño: you can pick up the thread wherever you like and follow wherever it leads. Probably, like Newton’s cannonball, back in on itself. At a high velocity.
Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer, (prlins on Goodreads)