2666 Group Read

Well, it looks like the planned read of 2666 is not going to materialize on Infinite Summer. If at some point it does materialize, I will probably refrain from posting too much here in favor of taking advantage of the infrastructure they already have in place over there. BUT until then, I plan to coordinate the group read here on this blog and on bolano-l (a google group/mailing list).

The format here will be similar to Infinite Summer’s group read of Infinite Jest. There will be a schedule, a weekly recap, and some analysis from guides. There will also be a Twitter hashtag. Since this read is not limited to or sponsored by Infinite Summer, I propose #2666 instead of #infsum partly because it’s one character shorter and partly because people are already using it. (My personal twitter account is @mattbucher)

The group read is scheduled to kick off January 25, 2010, so there is still time to order the book if you have not already done so. It’s available (in the US) in three editions: a three-volume paperback, a single paperback, and hardcover. There is also an audiobook. I believe all three editions have the same pagination (I don’t have the single-volume paperback to verify this).

We will work in different sized-chunks per week. The average-sized chunk will be about 50 pages. Some of the sections read faster than others and some demand more explication than others, so there will be some weeks (toward the end) that cover 60 or even 70 pages per week. I believe this is better than dragging out the read for four or five months, when participation drops off significantly.

The tentative schedule is as follows (the part in parentheses refers to the subject line for bolano-l messages, where x=week #):

The Part About the Critics (GR-Critics-x)
Week 1: January 25 – pages 1-51
Week 2: February 1 – pages 51-102
Week 3: February 8 – pages 102-159

The Part About Amalfitano (GR-Amalfitano-x)
Week 4: February 15 – pages 163-228

The Part About Fate (GR-Fate-x)
Week 5: February 22 – pages 231-290
Week 6: March 1 – pages 291-349

The Part About the Crimes (GR-Crimes-x)
Week 7: March 8 – pages 353-404
Week 8: March 15 – pages 404-465
Week 9: March 22 – pages 466-513
Week 10: March 29 – pages 513-564
Week 11: April 5 – pages 565-633

The Part About Archimboldi (GR-Archimboldi-x)
week 12 : April 12 – pages 637-701
week 13 : April 19 – pages 702-765
week 14 : April 26 – pages 766-830
week 15 : May 3 – pages 831-893

Like Infinite Summer, we will attempt to read this novel without spoiling any plot points for you. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about background or events surrounding the book.

Roberto Bolaño died shortly after presenting the first draft of 2666 to his publisher, Anagrama. It was reported that he was not completely finished writing or editing the novel at the time of his death. Realizing he was terribly sick, he instructed Anagrama to publish one part of the novel per year, hoping to stretch out the amount of money that his heirs could receive. His heirs were convinced that if he were not sick, he’d want the book published as a complete novel. After his death, the novel was published as a single volume with five parts.

The Part About the Crimes received the most attention when the book was published. It presents a fictionalized version of the Juarez feminicidios, or the murder of women in Ciudad Juarez. Since 1993, almost 400 women (usually young, often poor, factory workers) have been murdered in and around the city of Juarez, Mexico. Often their bodies are dumped outside of town and discovered well after the time of death. Most of the crimes are unsolved. 2666 contains a multitude of other stories, though. There are stories about academics and writers (one of Bolano’s favorite subjects), stories that slightly cross paths with The Savage Detectives, and stories of love, infatuation, and dreams of death. If this is your introduction to Roberto Bolano, you are in for a remarkable ride.

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