May 21, 2011 12 Comments
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.
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.
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?