So Good Up ‘Til Now

Up until now, my new year’s reading list has been amazing. With the sole exception of Michel Houellebecq’s unmemorable Elementary Particles, I have devoured five gems:

But two weeks ago, I embarked on the very promising 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, but for some reason I have barely been able to get through fifty pages. Maybe it’s the fact that I am reading the novel in Spanish or that I have been distracted with other things, but I simply cannot get myself to care about any of the characters. They all seem very forced and trite, almost as if I had already read the story before and didn’t like it the first time. Furthermore, the interminable, never-ending, page long sentences, typical of both formal and informal Spanish writing, gets on my nerves. At times I find myself wondering if Bolaño was being paid by the word, or if he really needed to add yet another comma and phrase to the already uninteresting run-on sentence. “I got the point, Roberto, can we move on?” With the exception of Garcia Marquez’s beautiful sentences (Borges wrote short stories, not novels), I am beginning to question whether the Spanish language is cut out for novels. While I do believe Spanish, with its ability to reverse the order of the subject and predicate, is better suited to poetry than English, I do now have my reserves about Spanish prose.

In any event, I have yet to decide whether to keep fighting through the 1300 page 2666 — it might be great in the end — or to re-read something that I really love, preferably Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.



Filed under Literature

5 responses to “So Good Up ‘Til Now

  1. Sorin Hadârcă

    I want to re-read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle myself but the books keep mounting and, yes, this year is exceptionally good for my reading.
    The books that I read by Bolano were The Distant Star, and In Chile By Night. I loved both of them (and they are about 150 pages each).
    My own top 5 in 2009:
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz,
    The Distant Star by Roberto Bolano,
    In Chile By Night by Roberto Bolano,
    The Shadow by Ismail Kadare, and
    The Tale of Love and Darness by Amos Oz.

  2. eric

    I haven’t red Ismail Kadare, but I will put it on my list. I guess I should keep trying with 2666, but knowing that The Wind Up Bird is there wanting to be re-read . . .

  3. Sorin

    OK, Eric, have it your way… 🙂

  4. Sanjeev Gandhi

    I’ve just finished reading The Savage Detectives and am about to start 2666. I don’t know, but maybe you should read that first…I’ve been totally blown away by it…and the translation is excellent as it is quite a slangy book in the original Spanish. Yeah…give this a try first…it’s been a real revelation reading The Savage Detectives.

  5. eric


    I actually wanted to read The Savage Detectives first but had some trouble finding a copy here in Madrid. I’ll look again.

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