As a reflexive reactionary, I did not want to like Roberto Bolaño. It seemed too much like jumping onto a bandwagon. But The Savage Detectives was such dark fun, and By Night in Chile has to rank as one of the great monologues in prose fiction (not to mention that it accomplishes, if glancingly, an effect that it took Proust himself ten jillion pages to create), and before I knew it I was sold.
I mention this because I hope that my reluctance will lend some greater sense of sincerity to my critical judgment. Of all the novels I've read that were published within the last fifty years, 2666 is the finest and greatest of them. Every page is an astonishment.