Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I'm reading a Picador proof of Roberto Bolano's The Third Reich. The literary world seems to be divided between those who think Bolano is one of the most exciting writers ever and those who think he is the most over-rated of recent times.

I love Bolano. He's not hyped. If you think so then I'm sorry but you cannot claim to be literate. Yes, I really did say that. You don't rate Bolano? You suck.

The book is presented as the holiday journal of a German war games enthusiast. Udo is on holiday in Spain with his girlfriend Ingeborg. While she bakes on the beach he works on strategic variants. There are echoes of Michel Houllebecq in a tourism as nightmare/living hell setting but it's really pure Bolanognese - a tasty mix of sex, death, boredom, burns, black dogs and windsurfing accidents. There is also something spooky about the fact that the dates in the diary start on August 20th and finish on October 20th. At present I am reading the entry for September 2nd but I'll soon have caught up with the year. Bolano gives me these reality jolts all the time. Like when you think 2666 is pure fiction then read about this and see the horror is REAL.

Like all the best dead stars Bolano's powers just seem to increase. His death has resulted in the unleashing of an awesome literary force that drags you into a darkness from which nothing, not even light, can escape...


  1. Re: the 3for2s, I had the misfortune of working under Gerry Johnson's confederacy of dunces until I jumped before I was pushed. It was a sad contrast to the Waterstone's I'd worked for years earlier where, like you, I could get a book like the Murakami and really pull out the stops.

    We had authority then. If we put an unknown author in the window, customers trusted our judgement. All of those morons who were recruited by HMV destroyed that authority. I wonder if James Daunt can ever win that back.

  2. I think the combination of private money from Russia and James Daunt is very powerful. I like the flat discount move and the end of 342. I like the emphasis moving back towards the book.

    I'm watching the whole project with great interest as I'm sure all true book-lovers are.