2666 is indeed Bolaño’s master statement, not just on account of its length and quality but also because it is the fullest expression of his two abiding themes: the writing life and violence. Bolaño’s interest in the former is easy to explain – he believed that a life dedicated to literature was the only one worth living. But his fascination with violence is more complex. One explanation can be found in his background. As someone who came of age during the era of South America’s dirty wars, it is understandable that he should side with the view he attributes to one of the characters in 2666, who sees history as a “simple whore… a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness”.
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