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Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underdeveloped Early Work, February 7, 2012
This review is from: The Third Reich: A Novel (Hardcover)
Bolano's posthumously published novel was probably abandoned for good reasons in 1989, because it's a thin and sketchy work of fiction. Udo Berger is a German vacationing on the beaches of Costa Brava with his girlfriend. The early scenes do bristle with the kind of intrigue that Bolano would later develop, but nothing much emerges. Berger is a German war games champion-so we are forced to consume pages of monotonous game play in the form of endless lists of moves and strategies. This method foreshadows the way in which Bolano would present his list of murders and rapes in 2666 in a stenographic form, without passion or feeling. Yes, we do see the emergence of certain central themes: e.g. offstage violence, displaced characters, and the impression of past violence. Nevertheless, this novel never gets off the ground-it will only be read by the devoted.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 10, 2012 9:16:57 AM PDT
I think Mr. Steiner's cool, incisive reading would cause Roberto Bolano to smile wistfully and nod in agreement. While he didn't have the advantage of our hindsight, so he couldn't have seen what would follow, he must have felt it wasn't worthy, probably for the reasons given here. "The early scenes do bristle . . . " - - YES, they do, and it's frustrating that what begins so well ends up just going downhill through entropy towards the protagonist's too-familiar crack-up. Bolano may have been unable to come up with a worthy ending and so abandoned it, but the conclusion of a good novel is implicit in its beginning, and Bolano may have realized this in time to set it aside, knowing it would take a complete overhaul to reach a proper ending that didn't pop out like a jack-in-the-box. If he'd lived, he might have turned it into something that did for Europe what Distant Star or Night in Chile did for his homeland.
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Steiner
(VINE VOICE)   

Location: Philadelphia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 15,251