New York on Bolano
In this week’s Fall Books Preview, Sam Anderson has a write-up on 2666, which promises to be one of—if not the—big books of 2008.
For a certain demographic of high-lit dorks, 2666 is like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: We’ve been shivering for it for months. Given the current climate of critical love, it might even have a shot at becoming the Infinite Jest–style Strangely Popular Giant Novel of the Year. It promises all the Bolaño signatures: sex, violence, nightmares, stories within stories, obsessed obsessives, an intercontinental hunt for a literary recluse, radical art (one painter finishes a self-portrait by affixing his mummified severed hand to the canvas), and the occasional five-page-long sentence. The big question will be, can a former poet whose mind seems to work most powerfully in short dashes, and whose long novels tend to feel like rapid successions of short fevers, sustain our attention for almost 900 pages? Either way, its publication is bittersweet: Although it marks the end, finally, of the English-speaking world’s Bolaño lag, it’s also the end, forever, of our new Bolaño.
A subset of those high-lit dorks have been carrying around galleys since the beginning of summer . . . I’m almost done reading this (it really is long, and has big pages to boot), and it’s absolutely astounding. (I actually got an e-mail yesterday in which someone claimed that it might well be the greatest book ever.)
This write-up is nice, if not a bit inaccurate. This fall New Directions is bringing out a collection of Bolano’s poetry, and they have a few more titles coming out over the next few years. ND is publishing everything by Bolano, except for The Savage Detectives and 2666, so thankfully this isn’t the end of new Bolano titles . . .