Struggling to Finish a Book
Published on January 23, 2014 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my attempt to read the Roberto Bolano novel "2666," and other unfinished business.

Here's an excerpt:

"I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book. I think it was middle school, when I failed to complete 'The Red Badge of Courage.' And I managed to get through Stephen Crane’s classic war novel in high school, so it no longer counts as an unread book.

It’s been a long time, but I’m now faced with the question of whether to bail on a book: Chilean writer Roberto Bolano’s massive 2004 novel '2666.'

I’d heard nothing but good things about '2666,' and when I started reading it, months ago, I was excited. I usually enjoy long, acclaimed literary novels. I liked 'Infinite Jest.' I love 'Moby Dick.' I’m a fan of both 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina.' But I’m struggling with '2666.' And because I always finish the books I start, I feel like I’m trapped in a novel I cannot get out of. For various reasons, I cannot bring myself to stop reading. But I feel like, at my current pace, it’s going to take me another three years to read '2666,' and that there are a lot of books I’d rather read instead.

So why can’t I stop reading '2666'? Well, it was so widely praised I feel like at some point it must all come together and start to make sense. I mean, sometimes long literary novels require a certain amount of patience. But I’ve read about 300 pages, and I’m still puzzled by the book’s reason for existence. What is this book about? What is it trying to say? I have no idea. I’m worried that I’ll read all 900 pages and feel like I’ve wasted months and months of precious reading time."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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