The much-dreaded 2666

Earlier in the year, I started reading Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.

I was eager to read it because I’ve heard book club friends raving about it, and I’d splurged on a lovely hardcover copy because I wanted to be in the mood to read such a long book. I’d also signed up for the Chunkster Challenge because it seemed to be a promising start. And I’d designated it as the B book in my A-Z Challenge!

I’m not even sure if I should count 2666 as one book, because technically there are five books in this hefty volume. 2666 was Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s last work; he died shortly after the first draft was presented to the publisher. His original intention was to publish the books individually, but then he passed away and the heirs decided on compiling all the parts in one massive volume, the English translation of which was named by Time Magazine as the Best Book of 2008.

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Haroun and the Sea of Stories

I’ve always wanted to try Salman Rushdie, so I included him in my list for the A-Z Challenge. I have a bunch of his books in my perpetually insurmountable TBR pile, and I’m falling behind in the challenge, so I resolved to pick up the pace so I can finish by the end of the year. Having not read any of Rushdie’s books before, I decided to go with Haroun and the Sea of Stories first, so I can take on his more complex works later on (maybe next year?).

Written in 1990, Haroun and the Sea of Stories was Rushdie’s first novel after his highly controversial Satanic Verses (earning him an Islamic death sentence and causing multiple deaths from violence related to the book). Told from the point of view of a young boy named Haroun, the novel is an allegorical children’s book dedicated to Rushdie’s son, Zafar.

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Love gone awry

Since I joined the A-Z Challenge, I’ve crossed out three names on the list already. I first crossed off Trenton Lee Stewart with the first two books of the Mysterious Benedict Society, which I enjoyed tremendously. I managed to cross off two more: Emile Zola with For a Night of Love (Z); and F. Scott Fitzgerald with The Rich Boy (F).

The two books are published by Hesperus Press, a sophisticated imprint I’m growing fond of (I have Jonathan Swift’s Directions to Servants and a couple other books from Hesperus Press). Hesperus specializes in hard to find novellas and short stories of famous authors, with each book running to only 100 pages or so. I got a bunch of them on sale last year, and while I don’t normally like mass market paperbacks, Hesperus books are a welcome addition to my library — I love the concept behind the imprint and the elegance of the book design.

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