Matt's Reviews > The Private Lives of Trees

The Private Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra
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's review
Sep 09, 10

I really liked this self-conscious and very short novel from the writer the back cover at least reassures me is the best of the new Chilean writers. The basic idea is that the whole novel is centered around one night when a step-father puts his daughter to bed and reflects on why his wife is late... in the process he digs into the different possibilities for her lateness, the relationship history they share, his writing, and what might happen next. It's singularly focused but at the same moment aware to the multiple worlds that are called into being by the event of his wife's lateness. It's smart and insightful and a pretty fun read, though I wonder a little bit if I'll even remember it a week from now. I mean, maybe I wil, but I'm not sure.

It does put me in the mind of the similarly inventive comic series _Daytripper_, though that series has for itself a kind of visual distinctiveness that the sentences here lack an equivalent for, and _Daytripper_ also perversely benefits from how boring and conventional most American comics are.

It's hard to express just what this means about Zambra's book, just that I think he's one to watch and that I hope this is his weakest work and not his best.

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