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As it has only been available since October, we weren’t too surprised we hadn’t spotted a copy of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 on the downtown 1 train; even though Farrar, Straus, and Giroux can boast of what se

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ems like unprecedented buzz for the title. We can’t think of a recent novel that has titillated the literary community this much, and this rapidly. It took Harry Potter and Twilight a few years to catch on, right? Bolaño’s popularity in the United States has gradually risen over the course of the past couple of years, but anticipation for 2666 mounted months before the release.

We noticed the many “best of” lists that included it and the New Yorker‘s Book Bench blog even declared January “National Reading 2666 Month.” Needless, to say, we were curious how long it would take before it appeared underground. Well, it happened. We finally came across one yesterday afternoon. A gentleman was toting the hefty hardback version, not one of the three slim volumes that FSG are also offering up to make the work more portable. It must be good if he’s willing to lug it around town.

We also noticed Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart being read by an engrossed high school student. Let’s hope she was engrossed by the book, not by the mad dash to finish up last night’s reading assignment on the way to school in the morning.

A vampire genre fan appeared, reading the first volume of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Until Dark, which inspired Alan Ball’s most recent venture for HBO, True Blood. We always thought that the basic concept of the series, vampires attempting to peacefully assimilate into mortal society, was compelling and regretted that the TV version was such a letdown. Maybe we should check out Harris’s books.

Oprah favorite, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank appeared. Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, a “hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation” on how long it would take for humanity to disappear, was spotted under the arm of a man briskly walking through the Christopher Street subway station.

Charles Dickens’s serialized and fragmented, Pickwick Papers and Obama’s The Audacity of Hope showed up as well; two that have been on our “to read” list for quite a long while. And finally, a work from Italo Calvino, one of our favorite Italian novelists, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, was spotted in the palm of a mustachioed and bespectacled 20-something. Next time we’ll ask for his number.

Related posts: Exclusive: Natasha Wimmer Tells Us About Translating the Next Great Latin American Author and Weekly Reader: If I Die In Juarez, by Stella Pope Duarte

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