The Third Reich

Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer (trs.)

The Third Reich

Shortly after becoming the German war-games champion, Udo Berger and his girlfriend, Ingeborg, holiday on the Costa Brava. There they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, and a band of shady locals who introduce them to the darker side of life in the town. Then, late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo’s well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval. 3.4 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
The Third Reich

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 288
RRP £18.99
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-0330510547
Publisher Picador
 

Shortly after becoming the German war-games champion, Udo Berger and his girlfriend, Ingeborg, holiday on the Costa Brava. There they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, and a band of shady locals who introduce them to the darker side of life in the town. Then, late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo’s well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval.

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

Reviews

The Evening Standard

Andrew Neather

It lacks the polish and ambition of his masterpiece, 2666, but many of the familiar Bolaño themes are present: obsession, a delight in absurd fictional worlds, and a persistent, dreamlike sense of anxiety and impending violence.

19/01/2012

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The Financial Times

Ángel Gurría-Quintana

The book contains many of the themes common to his other novels – from a fascination with detective fiction to meditations on the undercurrents of violence that underpin even seemingly innocuous activities. The result, strange, unnerving and occasionally tedious, confirms that Bolaño’s writing is at its best in his shorter works of fiction. This being a Bolaño novel, it is rich in startling images and unapologetically literary.

27/01/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Michael Eaude

The Third Reich peters out towards the end, though an argument could be made that it is unended and unendable, like 2666. It feels, though, that in this case Bolaño was not able to round off his themes. Yet it is essential reading for fans of his later books: you can see and touch the voice and themes developing. And for those who do not yet know Bolaño, it is a fine novel in itself, enthrallingly written and well translated by Natasha Wimmer.

08/01/2012

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The New York Times

Michael Wood

But knowledge of the later work almost certainly improves the latest Bolaño novel to appear in English: The Third Reich, written in 1989, which against every tenet of the New Criticism offers a richer reading experience once you have seen the signature. Indeed, I kept responding to it like a person living in two times. Mainly I was reading the novel now, and finding it thoroughly, weirdly absorbing. Partly I was reading as if I were an unfortunate editor in around 1990, wondering how I was going to tell Bolaño that this wasn’t quite a finished book yet, that his plot led nowhere, that his characters kept trailing off into incoherence. That earlier reader would have been wrong even then, but without hindsight it’s easy to be wrong.

23/12/2011

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Scotland on Sunday

Stuart Kelly

Bolaño’s great theme, and what marks him out as a profound novelist, is his utter conviction that literature is always in a state of complicity with the forces of absolutism and corruption. Udo is one of his earliest attempts at examining the toxic nature of fictions. Although parts of the novel seem first draft-ish, there are also moments of sublimity.

03/12/2012

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The Washington Post

Marie Arana

A mesmerizing tale: sleek, linear, easily digested, beautifully translated. But it cannot pretend to rival Bolano’s mature work. Nor will any serious Bolano fan prefer its trim, conventional story line to his sprawling masterpieces. Yet the book shows Bolano as we’ve hardly seen him before: young, sniffing for new ground, applying old-fashioned suspense to a very modern chaos.

22/12/2011

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The Literary Review

Anthony Cummins

Bolaño’s themes are ever-present whatever he writes.

01/12/2011

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The New Yorker

Giles Harvey

The Third Reich, a moody and uneven novel … should join that shelf marked “For Completists Only,” on which also sit Antwerp, Monsieur Pain, The Romantic Dogs, Between Parentheses, and The Skating Rink. Although The Third Reich, which seems to represent Bolaño’s first attempt at novel-writing, is not without certain characteristic charms—black comedy, idiomatic vigor, a looming and ineffable sense of doom—its power is only intermittent and its prose is often as flat as old seltzer water.

19/01/2012

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The Guardian

Giles Harvey

As in a film by Antonioni, what we are left with – what we are forced to get by on – is atmosphere, pages and pages of the stuff ... Nevertheless, it is in its second half that the book starts to repay our attention. With passages that anticipate the dark, chaotic splendour of By Night in Chile, Udo's diary becomes a record of moral and psychological disintegration, swarming with toxic hallucinations and poignant non sequiturs.

27/01/2012

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The Sunday Times

Robert Collins

The narrative eventually tails off; but, as with all Bolano, it’s not the endpoint that counts, but the sheer accretion of atmosphere. Even in this first move into long fiction, Bolano is already enjoying his gifts as a novelist — even if not at the top of his game yet, beginning to impress as he sees which rules he can bend or break.

01/01/2012

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The Guardian

Adam Mars-Jones

… overcontrolled … It's not clear that anyone short of an expert could identify the book, neutrally well managed as it is, as Bolaño's work.

13/01/2012

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