Author: Roberto Bolaño
number of pages: 898
Okay, I'm going to be straight with all you out there on the interwebs, I got the idea to read this book mostly because I saw a picture of a celebrity carrying it through the airport. But, not just any celebrity! It was Robert Pattinson *swoon* (I love Twilight even though it's not exactly great literature, and I will probably review it someday on here) ANYWAYS, I saw the book in the oh-so-handsome Rob's hands (see pic below) and just had to know about what he was reading. So I did a little researching on Amazon and Barnes and Noble dot com, and decided that I would give it a go. Wow, am I glad I did!
This almost 900 page book is actually very manageable because it's broken down into 5 parts. These parts are The Part about the Critics, The Part about Amalfitano, The Part about Fate, The Part about the Crimes, and The Part about Archimboldi. Each part is about different people in different situations and reads like it's own book (which makes sense since the late author originally wanted this book to be published as five separate novellas).
The Part about the Critics focuses on four literary critics in Europe who become friends because of their common love of a German author named Benno von Archimboldi. Archimboldi is not a particularly widely read author by any means, but he is critically acclaimed and is mentioned for the Nobel Prize. The kicker here is that barely anyone has EVER met Archimboldi or even knows what he looks like. This part goes through all the critics, their love lives, and their hunt to find Archimboldi which leads them to a town name Santa Teresa in Mexico. There, they meet a professor of the University named Amalfitano and find out about hundreds of murders of women have been taking place for years.
The Part about Amalfitano covers his life, how he ended up in Mexico, his family, and how the murders affect his life.
The Part about Fate I originally thought was going to be about fate, as in the inevitable outcome of events, but turns out it's actually about a reporter named Oscar Fate who is in Mexico (from New York) covering a boxing match and how he becomes interesting in covering a story on the murders.
The Part about the Crimes is exactly what it sounds like. It goes through all the murders of women over the past few years, whether they were solved or not, the defects in the investigation system, and who all has been convicted.
And finally, the Part about Archimboldi. This was probably my favorite part. It tells the story of Archimboldi from childhood until present and what a great story it is. You finally figure out why he decides not to be in the public eye and why he ends up in Mexico.
The novel doesn't end with a clear cut, everyone lives happily ever after ending, but it does leave you satisfied with how everyone becomes connected and realizing how small the world can really be. The writing is just amazing because there really was never a point where I thought "ugh, this is so pointless" and Bolaño does not overuse any particular word or statement (which tends to happen in a lot of longer novels, ahem, Stephanie Meyer and chagrin). I felt like his writing changed a little with each character also, so everyone had their own "voice." A great example of this was when a woman was telling a group of people about a dream that she had had. It went on for about 3 pages and when I got to the end of the dream story, I looked back and realized that there wasn't a single period used that WHOLE time yet it made perfect sense. Genius!
I would definitely recommend this book. Don't let the hugeness dissuade you! It's worth it!