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Ultimately a disappointing book
on 27 March 2010
Structured as a series of obituaries/histories and including a bibliography, the book is a history of Nazi and neo-Nazi writers and sympathisers in South America, their writings and other works. Totally credible, except that the characters are all fictitious. An interesting premise.
But as much as anything, it was the unusual format that attracted me to the book; I wanted to see how well it works. And it almost works very well. There is a web of connections between many of the characters and some of the "histories" grip one's attention, although others seem to be no more than makeweight.
The book is tempting but not satisfying. Bolano clearly put great effort into writing it, but why? There are many parts but no coherent whole. There is no clear message, beyond a distaste for fascism and torturers.
Perhaps to those who are exceedingly clever or steeped in Latin American culture the point of the book is clear. But I cannot help wondering if Bolano wrote it simply to amuse himself, and nobody else.