Had one of those forehead slapping moments today when the writing of Roberto Bolano started to make a great deal more sense.
What has helped me unlock it is by starting to read the Amulet. Here is a book that concerns a specific event, the terrible events in Mexico in 1968 where opposition was silenced with torture cells and bullets.
But the story unfolds with a woman who moves to Mexico and starts to hang around with poets and literature professors. She finds herself the last one in the University as the army lay siege to the building as she is distracted reading poetry on the toilet. So far so good.
Of course things aren't quite as simple as that with the action of 1968 surrounded by memories and speculations about poetry, teeth and Mexico.
And that's when I realised that the point being made is how art reacts to life and how poetry interacts with not just the mundane but the brutal. In 2666 there are several things going on but one of them has to be about the way Mexican society is being torn apart by drugs and how intellectuals are not immune from it. Their search for a reclusive author would have ended in a court room as the German writer became intertwined through his extended family in some killings in Mexico.
In a way it has made me appreciate and understand 2666 a great deal more. perhaps it would have been better to have read The Amulet before but that's the way reading unfolds sometimes.