Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lovecraftian Horror Rises from the Desert: Europe at War, a Mythological Author & Mass Murders as a Artifact of Globalization in Roberto Bolaño's 2666

Crushingly inventive. What a damn novel this proved to be! Finished it late last night and was veritably stunned when the last book of the five that comprise the novel was completed, not for any revelatory conclusion, but instead the sense of cumulative wrapping (or more exactly, warping) together of a world and a century that "2666" does. Sad, moving, dark, passionate, psychological, methodical, piece of fiction made that much more moving/believably atrocious by it's inclusion of fictionalized interpretations of historical events, namely WWII on the Russian front and this ongoing series of sprawling, nightmarish mass-murders in Mexico. Having come to Bolaño in the past year through friend's recommendations and later through the massive accolades the man's received from major literary sources and contemporary authors of note, including this excellent review from Jonathan Lethem it's been a process of discovery for me where I found I was reading it reading at a slower and slower rate to be able to properly absorb and digest along the way, which is the inverse of my usual approach as I delve into a book. His contemporaries have called him the anti-Gabriel Garcia, for me, he's more the next-gen Borges, as these are tales that riddle out the passions, obsessions and deeply tricky maze that is where the mind meets the world and the peoples who populate it - as a ever unfolding, slowly revealed, labyrinth. "2666" here, the first book by him I've read, has tones of traditional lit like Borges, or even the sense of humor of Dostoyevsky (really), but with a both more modern sense of narrative construction (the five open-ended novels that comprise the whole of the hardcover) that reminds me of some of the conscious 'gaps' in chronology/information that Foster-Wallace has so frustrated some of his readers with ... and weirdly, in combination with a almost Lovecraftian sense of looming dread.