Mike Puma's Reviews > The Third Reich

The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4193758
's review
Jun 20, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: bolaño, lit-fic, chilean-author, 2011
Read in December, 2011

Goddammit! I’m pissed, pissed and a little troubled. I just finished The Third Reich, within the half-hour. I’m not one to pore over what I’ve just read—rehashing the ‘what did it means’ or a book’s merits or flaws, I like it or don’t, set a course and run with it. A hastily formed first impression, whether with books or people, is good enough for me. Opinionated, I suppose, but it’s me.

So, what do I make of The Third Reich? What indeed? Part of me, the part I favor, tells me this is every bit as sophisticated, well-planned and executed, mature, all the favorable superlatives I dole on most of the other Bolaños. Yet, part of me is bugged (buggered?) by one little paragraph on the flyleaf and in the GR summary for the title:

Written in 1989 and found among Roberto Bolaño’s papers after his death, The Third Reich is a stunning exploration of memory and violence. Reading this quick, visceral novel, we see a world-class writer coming into his own—and exploring for the first time the themes that would define his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666.
Particularly troublesome is the feeling that FSG lost control of a message or THE message with the phrases “found among Roberto Bolaño’s papers after his death” and “see a world-class writer coming into his own” with an implicit ‘immature’ ‘abandoned’ ‘rejected’ or ‘unfinished.’

A cursory look at the dates in the Wikipedia entry for Bolaño would suggest this is the first novel he wrote, with only a couple of the poems from The Romantic Dogs written earlier, though published in book form much later. Who knows? Bolaño always considered himself, first-and-foremost, a poet. Until I know otherwise, I prefer to believe that TTR was never lost among his papers, but rather, held onto, perhaps reworked, tweaked, handled like a first-born child—left to be discovered at some future time, left to be discovered by me.

To further romanticize this one, I really prefer to believe that this one is a game, akin to The Third Reich game that the protagonist immerses himself in. If that is, in fact, the case, then my apologies to FSG (one of my favorite publishers) for a teasing ‘found among the papers’—whatever else, I do not want to believe that this is merely something publishable mined from the surviving papers of RB (an unfortunate feeling given some of the ND titles that have surfaced recently). Given the mediocre reviews that have appeared to date, consider this one for what it’s worth—the thoughts of a die-hard RB fan. Hope you like it.



44 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Third Reich.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Great to see a 'contrarian' review. It's actually the 4th novel RB wrote chronologically. I also don't understand why the press kept saying it was a 'lost' novel, when it's clear it was meant to be published. The manuscript was said to be typewritten and meticulously corrected by hand.


Mike Puma Thanks, Ryan, for the chronology and your blog which I'll be spending more time checking out.


message 3: by Magdelanye (new) - added it

Magdelanye ooofffhh
not exactly looking forward to this


message 4: by mark (new)

mark monday i like it when you're pissed!

but i think i have to disagree with your self-assessment, as being a person who doesn't pore over a book's merits or flaws. your excellent reviews are excellent precisely because you do spend the time weighing the pros & cons, evaluating, deconstructing your experience, etc.


Mike Puma mark wrote: "i like it when you're pissed!

but i think i have to disagree with your self-assessment, as being a person who doesn't pore over a book's merits or flaws. your excellent reviews are excellent pre..."


Thanks, Mark, for the kind words and the subtle correction of my verb (since corrected). Obviously, I liked this one, but after reading the dust jacket, cover and some of the early reviews, I was prepared to be disappointed. Imagine my disappointment at not being disappointed. I know better than to generalize from myself to the world, but I often forget how poorly the world's generalizations find their ways back to me.


Mike Puma Magdelanye wrote: "ooofffhh
not exactly looking forward to this"


Fret not, Magelayne, not nearly as oppressive as 2666 and a relatively quick read.


Megan I loved it. I too believe the book itself a game.


Mike Puma Megan wrote: "I loved it. I too believe the book itself a game."

Glad you liked it. Just two more months for The Secret of Evil; looking forward to it.


Matt Holbrook Seriously, how did you read this in half an hour?


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Matt wrote: "Seriously, how did you read this in half an hour?"

It def took longer than half an hour; I can't read a menu thoroughly in half an hour.


message 11: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Matt wrote: "Seriously, how did you read this in half an hour?"

I see where you got that--I'd finished it within the half hour of writing the review.


message 12: by Matt (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt Holbrook Haha ok Mike, sorry I understand now. I'm enjoying the book but I'll be happy to have it red by the weekend!


message 13: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Matt wrote: "Haha ok Mike, sorry I understand now. I'm enjoying the book but I'll be happy to have it red by the weekend!"

You'll make it; it picks up steam toward the end.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, see, I thought it looked awful good and should have gotten it. And I think you bring up some good comments in your review. I think FSG has been playing a game with their publication of this guy. After all, I thought THE SKATING RINK was his first novel, a book which I happened to like quite a bit.


message 15: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma I'll be curious to see what you make of it when you get to it. I'm looking forward to finally getting to read Woes of the True Policeman


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

What are you doing up so early? It's only six-thirty in Springfield, right? God I miss Illinois. Have to get back home one of these days. You a professor there, Mike?


message 17: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma I've been up since 5:00; old habit. Nah, def not a professor, nor do I play one on TV. I like to get up early so I can eazzzzzzzzzzzze into the day.


message 18: by Magdelanye (new) - added it

Magdelanye Hey Mike,long time no connection. I am travelling, and not always able to get online. Today this post came up and I so relate to your comment about getting up early and eazzing into the day. Even my parents,who didnt give much room to be, recognized this trait in me and allowed me a little space to :get adjusted to the morning:
Liked your review too


message 19: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Magdelanye wrote: "Hey Mike,long time no connection. I am travelling, and not always able to get online. Today this post came up and I so relate to your comment about getting up early and eazzing into the day. Even m..."

Thanks, Magdelanye, nice to hear from you, and thanks for Liking the review.


Tanuj Solanki I am midway, and I think it is as good as his best work.


message 21: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Puma Glad you're liking it.


flimsymists Thanks a bunch for this review. I'm about halfway and I love it. My first Bolaño. :>


back to top