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2666: Through Part Three

March 30, 2009

Having finally read the three parts that comprise the first volume of the paperback edition of 2666, I am glad to report that I am still fully and energetically engaged as a reader.

Reading the English translation, I am consistently impressed with the English tone of the prose. Over the last few years I have been reading more South American authors in translation and the others (Márquez, Borges, Coelho) seem to have a common syntax that the translation of 2666 does not possess. 2666, to me, has an almost American sound. I am not sure whether this difference is due to the translation (by Natasha Wimmer), the fact that Bolaño did much of his writing in Spain, or that I want it to have a different sound.

The first three parts tell three different stories that begin in separate locales with different plots that become most interesting when they subtlety cross paths. Much to my surprise, Bolaño attempts to deal with American race relations, most overtly in “The Part About Fate,” and does so with surprising deftness. The character of Fate could easily slip into a black militant stereotype but he is treated fairly and given what I consider to be a fair voice.

The novel, up to this point, has been less violent that I had expected. From what I understand the fourth part is where the gore if poured on. We’ll see how it goes from here.

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