Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 12, FINAL Week!

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.

You can find the full reading schedule in THIS POST.

Reading for Week 12

This week, we read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

12. Pages 810-END (84 pages) May 21st

My summary (contains spoilers)

Ingeborg and Archimboldi are staying in a village, where the owner of the house they are staying in is reputed to have killed his wife. One night Ingeborg leaves the house while it’s cold and after Archimboldi finds her back, she becomes very ill. In hospital the house owner admits to having killed his wife.

Some of the story is about Archimboldi’s relationship with Bubis, the publisher, who seems happy to publish anything Archimboldi sends him. Of course, as soon as he gets the chance, he’s in bed with Mrs. Bubis, the baroness. Ingeborg dies eventually. She’d been ill with tuberculosis a long time.

Later on, we get to know Lotte, Archimboldi’s sister. She stayed in Germany and moved to the West of the country at the end of the Second World War. She married Werner Haas, and has a child with him, Klaus Haas. Then we finally realise the relation between Archimboldi and Santa Teresa: the prisoner Klaus Haas is his nephew.

Lotte hasn’t heard from her son for a long time, and when she is already a widow, she hears that he is in prison in Mexico. She hires a translator and together they travel to her son. His court case is being delayed time and again and there is little hope that he will be out of prison soon.

By coincidence, she reads a book by Archimboldi that describes her own childhood very well, and she realises the writer must be her own brother, Hans Reiter. Via the publishers she contacts him. By the time he visits her, she is old and worries who will take care of her son in prison. Archimboldi agrees to do this for her and prepares to go to Mexico.

Discussion

This fifth section is a proper story, in the sense that it is about the life of one German man, Hans Reiter, a.k.a. Archimboldi and it all makes sense. It’s a normal story. There is no endless summing up of murders, there are no strange characters that hang books on their washing line. Instead, it’s a straightforward story, just how I like them.

If this had been the only part of the book I’d read (weeks 10-12), I would have said, yeah, 2666 is OK. Except of course, there would be too much of the storyline lacking, as we wouldn’t know the story about the dead women and how Klaus Haas was put in prison, etc.

Bubis publishes anything Archimboldi sends him: isn’t that what all writers would like. It seems like wishful thinking, a bit of dreaming from Bolaño’s point of view. A bit of fun for the writer himself?

We never hear about the critics again, as far as I know.

General Discussion

I know there are people out there who loved this book. I’m not sure why, they must see something in this book that I didn’t. Or they don’t mind all the dead ends that we got: the book could have been many pages thinner, if all the irrelevant material (most of the book) was left out.

I’ve recently learned that a really good book has not a sentence too many. Everything in the book is somehow relevant to the plot. I don’t think that is the case with this book, but again, maybe I’m just not seeing everything there is to see about this book.

I think my main questions while reading the final part of the book were to find out:

a. Will the critics ever discover who and where Archimboldi is?

b. Why were so many women in Santa Teresa killed?

I don’t think I’ve found the answer to these questions. We did find out who Archimboldi was, but the critics didn’t – or will they find him in Santa Teresa eventually? Also, I still don’t know why all those murders took place. If Klaus Haas killed four of the women (and that is still uncertain), then there are many murders unaccounted for. I had hoped to find some organised force (whether physical or spiritual) that was responsible for the murders.

As I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts: I would never have finished this book if it wasn’t for the read-a-long. I liked the last part but I still feel like I’ve lost a lot of reading time on the earlier parts when I could have been reading something else. I don’t feel accomplished or proud for having read this tome. I feel… relieved to have finished finally. What about you?

What did you think of this book?

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Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 11

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 11

This week, we read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

11. Pages 724-810 (86 pages) May 14th

Read until: “In all, he spent three weeks in Hamburg.Twice he dined with Mr. Bubis.

My summary (may contain spoilers)

Something happened. Something momentous! After 800 pages, we finally meet Archimboldi. The only time we heard about him was in Section I (I don’t think he was mentioned in Section II and certainly not after that). And finally, finally, we get to meet him!

He is no other than Hans Reiter, who we’ve been following in this final section.

He is Hans until he goes to publishers with his manuscript, a book that he.wrote in 20 days. As he’s seen as a criminal of war (I think?) he invents a new name, Benno von Archimboldi.

Whatever else happened in this part is probably irrelevant (again) so I won’t mention it, except that in a prisoner of war camp he meets a man that killed many Jews because he didn’t know what else to do with them. For most of this part, we were well in the second world war.

Discussion

I like the books I read to make sense. I like them to have a beginning, a middle and an end that relate to each other. At the end everything should come together. Who’s with me thinking that won’t happen here?

I’m glad we found out who Archimboldi is, and I hope one or two of you can tell me about the significance of Reiter’s youth or his time at war for him to become a writer.

Discussion questions

Please explain. Most of the book please. I’m lost. Although the Reiter story is interesting and it makes sense as a story on its own. But where is the relation to the earlier Sections?

Next week (Week 12 – Final Week!)

This week, we’ll read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

12. Pages 811-895 (84 pages) May 21st

All the way till the end of the book!!

What did you think of this week’s read?

Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 10

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 10

This week, we read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

10. Pages 637-723 (86 pages) May 7th

Read until: “In any case, storm clouds hovered over Ivanov, though he never even dreamed they were there…

My summary (may contain spoilers)

Hurray, no more dead bodies! If I counted correctly, there were zero people killed in this part. That made a difference.

What also made a difference, was the story. This could be a completely different book. Don’t be fooled by the title of this section: The Part About Archimboldi. There is no Archimboldi… yet, at least.

This is the story of Hans Reiter, a german who was born in 1920. At school he isn’t much good, so at 14 he has a few jobs. Eventually, he starts working for the local baron and meets the baron’s nephew, who steals expensive goods from the baron’s house (as he is never there himself). The nephew is called Hugo Halder and he works in Berlin. When Hans follows him to Berlin, he finds Hans a job.

Later Hans is drafted into the army, and he spends some time in Romania, and later, in Ukraine. In an abandoned house where he lives for a while, he finds some hidden papers. These are from Boris Ansky.

We then get the story of Boris Ansky. He was born in 1909 and joined the Red Army in 1923. After he leaves the army, he travels and visits museums, and reads a lot. He meets Efraim Ivanov who is an science fiction writer.

We learn a bit more about Ansky and Ivanov… but is it relevant?

Discussion

The story is about Germans, and Archimboldi is a German, but other than that, I have no idea where this is going. It was a good story, as such. More interesting than the previous part about the dead women. It could be a book on its own. But then… just as I’m happily reading about Hans Reiter, we get a new story: Boris Ansky. Why?

This is what I don’t like: there is so much irrelevant material here. I’ve learned that in a good book, every sentence, every word even, is relevant to the story. But Bolaño seems to include all kinds of information that cannot possibly all be relevant to… what, really? The murders? Archimboldi?

Discussion questions

What is the book about, really?

What did you think about Hans Reiter’s story?

Next week (Week 11)

This week, we’ll read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

11. Pages 724-810 (86 pages) May 14th

Read until: “In all, he spent three weeks in Hamburg.Twice he dined with Mr. Bubis.


What did you think of this week’s read?

Bolaño 2666 Read-A-Long – Week 9

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 9

This week, we read the following

Section IV The Part About the Crimes (4 weeks)

9. Pages 567-633 (66 pages) April 30st

Read until the end of this section.

My summary (may contain spoilers)

Not so many dead women this time. Just a few more. And hey, we’re used to it now, so who cares any longer?

There are several stories running parallel now. There is the story of Haas in prison, who holds another press conference and gives the journalists the name of Antonio Uribe as the killer of all those women in Santa Teresa. However, that man seems to have disappeared and also, Haas doesn’t really give any explanation for his accusation. So, a dead end?

Another story is that of Albert Kessler. He is a expert in serial murders and has come to investigate the Santa Teresa killings. He travels around town, especially in the unsafe areas and in particular wants to see some of the places where bodies have been found. In addition, he gives a well-attended lecture at the university.

Sergio González Rodríguez (whom I probably should have remembered from earlier but I forgot) asks Azucena Esquivel Plata to tell him about her friend Kelly, who has gone missing (maybe she’s one of the women that was found dead? I can’t remember). Plata is a journalist and also representative of a political party. Her friend Kelly worked as a kind of party organiser, but when she looks into the further, it seems she arranged escort girls for rich men.

Discussion

There’s so much going on, I’m losing track. Part of the problem in the size of the book, so much happening, and much of it not relevant to the further story, it seems. On the other hand, reading just a section per week doesn’t help. I seem to miss any overview.

The murderer(s) have not been found, the killings seem to be getting less frequent. The police doesn’t care much. Journalists are looking into Haas’ storry.

Discussion questions

Well, was Kelly killed or not? Do you remember?

The next part is about Archimbold again. Do you expect to find an answer about the killings? I’m starting to doubt it.

What do you think of this part of the story?

Next week (Week 10)

This week, we’ll read the following

Section V The Part About Archimboldi (3 weeks)

10. Pages 637-723 (86 pages) May 7th

Read until: “In any case, storm clouds hovered over Ivanov, though he never even dreamed they were there…

What did you think of this week’s read?

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