Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 2

The Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long is a twelve week read of 2666 with people who can’t face reading the tome on their own. There are about 8 of us who are reading this together.

If you like to join in, get your copy of 2666 and join us any time. You can find the full reading schedule in THIS POST.

Reading for Week 2

This week, we read the following

Section I The Part About the Critics

Week 2. Pages 80-159 (79 pages) March 12th (to the end of Section I)

My summary (may contain spoilers)

Pelletier and Espinoza have the idea of going to Switzerland, to meet the artist who cut off his hand, a story that Norton told Morini in last week’s part of the book. However, when Norton hears about it, she pretends that this is the first time she hears about this artist. Rather curious!

They, and Morini, are indeed allowed access to Edwin Johns in the institution where he lives. The artist tells Morini (a whisper in his ear) why he cut off his own hand, but the other two are not told this.

At a conference, Pelletier, Espinoza, and Norton hear that Archimboldi, the author they are keen to get into contact with, has been spotted in Mexico. They travel to Mexico-city where they are met by the man who apparently met Archimboldi. He is a Chilean university teacher called Amalfitano, and with his help, they discover that he went to a small town near the American border. So they go there, too.

Espinoza has an affair with a Mexican street seller of carpets while Pelletier reads the same books over and over again. Norton decides to leave early and can be found, towards the end of this part, in the bed of Morini in Italy.


I’m not really sure what the story about the artist, Edwin Johns, is about. I mean, why is it included in this book?

I like it that the book turns into a detective story where the main characters, initially happy enough just to read Archimbaldi’s books and to talk and write papers about them, now want to find the master in person, before it is too late (as he is already at an advanced age).

Norton is moving from one bed to the next. What does she want of these men? I’m not sure.

So, while on the one hand the story progresses nicely, I’m a bit at a loss about certain events.

Discussion questions

Can you answer my questions above? Have you thought of something that can explain why Edwin Johns is mentioned in this story in such detail?

And why does Norton dive into bed with all three critics at some point?

Do you think they will eventually find Archimboldi?

Next week (Week 3)

This week, we’ll read the following

Section II The Part About Amalfitano (1 week)

3. Pages 163-228 (65 pages) March 19th (the whole of Section II)

What did you think of this week’s read?

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16 Responses to Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 2

  1. Cindy says:

    Sure does seem odd to have an odd character drifting about.

  2. Chinoiseries says:

    Johns was indeed a strange character, he seemed to be added at random, like you said. At this point in the book, I can’t figure out a reason for him either… maybe later?
    I think that Norton slept with Pelletier and Espinoza, because she finds it harder to connect emotionally to someone than physically. They are, in a way, safe choices for her. I think her other sexual relations don’t last this long. I thought it was really nice that she realized that it was Morini she loved 🙂 Hmm, maybe he is the one who understands her best? Because he also went to search for Johns?

    I hope they’ll find Archimboldi at some point or that these three characters will at least return to the story later. Right now, I am very curious about part 2!!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Great answers, Chinoi! Glad I didn’t miss anything and that you also think Johns may be a random character- for now, at least.

      I like your explanation of why Norton sleeps with all three critics. I think you’re right!

      The next part is about Amalfitano, who I don’t find particularly interesting until now. We’ll see. I’m curious to see how the book progresses.

      So far, I’m happy we’re doing the read-a-long, because on my own, I would have given up during the long-sentences part, I think!

  3. thebookbee says:

    I agree with the comments above, I feel like Johns is a random character as well at the moment and hope that an explanantion for him will be provided later on.

    I loved how this section turned more into a detective story and I am curious how part 2 is going to play out.

    So far this novel is not what I thought it was going to be like.

  4. Leeswammes says:

    Chinoiseries summarizes her experience of the first part of the book (the critics) here:

  5. Gnoe says:

    I’m just immersing myself in the story, not trying to come up with answers yet about what, why, who etc. Not even on why this book came so highly recommended by Kazuo Ishiguro. 😉 Time will tell.

    It took me a long time to really get into the story (past the page 100 crossing point) but I quite like it now. Although the over-detailed stuff bothers me sometimes… (“Get ooooon with it!”) Let’s see what The Part about Amalfini brings us!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Indeed, Gnoe. It took me a while as well to get into it. Maybe I wouldn’t even have bothered any further if it wasn’t for the read-a-long. The pages after pages with long sentences really appalled me, but I had to keep going, and now I’m just fine with it.

      I’m also curious to know how it continues. Let’s see.

  6. JoV says:

    If it’s not for you Judith, I’ll probably threw the book out of the train window and let it land somewhere between Reading and London, in the county of Berkshire!!!

    I am at 184 pages now and at some point I’ll write a short review. This better be good, because I genuinely don’t know where the story is going!

    • Leeswammes says:

      JoV, sorry you’re not enjoying it much. I was OK at page 184 – my problem was especially the beginning. But now, in Amalfitano’s part, I’m bored. We’ll see. Try and keep it up for a bit longer…. I’m sure Berkshire has enough books. 🙂

  7. Joanna says:

    Hi guys, finally got around to catching up and I’ve written my response

    I think Johns is the first victim and an example of what the abyss will consume. He and Liz seem central to the story.

    I’ve really liked it so far but have been taking my time with it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      You wrote a brilliant analysis – I hope other people will read this too and let you know whether they agree.

      I thought Archimboldi was central to the story, so I’m curious to see if you’re right that it’s Johns and Liz!

  8. Joanna says:

    I forgot to add that I missed the long sentences which weren’t as prevalent in this section.

  9. Pingback: Read-a-long: Bolaño’s 2666: week 2

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