The Third Hotel
"[A] future cult classic." —The New York Times Book Review
"There’s Borges and Bolaño, Kafka and Cortázar, Modiano and Murakami, and now Laura van den Berg." —The Washington Post
An August 2018 IndieNext Selection. Named a Summer 2018 Read by The Washington Post, Vulture, Nylon, Elle, BBC, InStyle, Refinery29, Bustle, O, the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Conde Nast Traveler, Southern Living, Lit Hub, and V—The
"What in the world did I just read" - sums up this book very well. At least for me. Aside from giving it a low rating I actually do not think that this is a bad book, I think that this is a brilliant book - for the right audience.
The closest thing I can compare it to is The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman, so if you enjoyed that one you will probably love The Third Hotel. Myself? Not so much. I didn't enjoy Gaiman's book and I didn't much care for this one, although it was still v/>"What ...more
The remarkable thing is that in just over 200 pages, the author creates so many layers - horror films, Cuban culture, psychological thrills, grief, the questions of if we can truly know another person - but at the same time manages to help the r ...more
(a) horror movies
(b) smart discussions about horror movies
(c) ghost stories
(d) ghost stories that kind of maybe aren't ghost stories, but also maybe are?
(e) strange, confounding protagonists
(f) metaphysical mysteries
(g) deep considerations of marriage and what it means
(h) short, finish-in-one-sitting novels with unique, irresistible voices
The writing is good, it's easy to read, even has some light humour but nothing jumped out and demanded serious attention from me. The individual disparate elements of this book were interesting but I missed the point of the unified whole. The setting of Cuba for example added a lush tropical holiday v ...more
I think my biggest issue with The Third Hotel was that I did not feel the slightest emotional connection to this story. I really don't need to feel an emotional ...more
"Clare had never before seen her husband operate a motorbike, but he navigated it like he had been riding one all his life, like he had been riding one in Havana all his life, like he had not been struck by a car and killed in the United States of America some five weeks ago." p/>"Clare ...more
I read this sentence only a few days after returning from my own vacation, and I paused for a minute to consider how true it was: On my first trip in a few years, I felt liberated from my routines and obligations, which made me relaxed and happy and therefore more easygoing and nicer to the people around me—more myself, as I would be without all the stresses that typically grind me down. Then I ...more
The book follows recently widowed (or is she?) Clare around Havana during a film festival. Her ...more
Recently widowed Clare travels to Havana to attend a film festival that her husband, a horror film scholar, had originally planned to attend. Then she sees him standing outside a Cuban museum--but he died five weeks earlier in a hit-and-run accident. The ...more
In this moody, liminal novel of ideas, Van den Berg immerses the reader in a hallucinatory narrative that is highly cinematic. And, like a surrealist film, the results are variable and largely dependent upon the spectator's interest, focus, and willingness to abandon all attempts at making good sense of the proceedings.
"...to plunge the v ...more
Suddenly and newly widowed Clare (5 weeks as the story opens) has gone to a Latin Horror Movie Festival in Havana, not because she’s into horror movies, but because her husband was. She mingles a little with the other attendees, but mostly wanders around isolated and alone. Then she sees her husband on the street--I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. I was hoping a bit for fast-paced, gripping psychological suspense. It’s definitely gripping, and incredibly intense, but it’s essentially ...more
In terms of narrative- I’m not really sure what this novel is ultimately about. A woman suffers loss and trauma, and in a state of extreme grief goes to Cuba, to a horror film festival. As a reader I didn’t get too invested ...more
3.5 rounded up
of her dead or perhaps not-dead husband. If you need clarity, appealing characters, meaningful linear plot, or anything resembling a resolved ending, you'll want to skip this one.
The book doesn't say boohockey about the nature of grief. The narrative's way too absorbed with being detached and self-consciously arty to slow down for mere grief. And I normally love artiness. ...more
I suspect that if you're a fan of horror films and books, you'll get it and that's who I recommend it for. I also suspect I tried to read it/take it too literally.
Clare is in Havana for the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. Richard, a film studies professor specializing in horror, was an admirer of the director Yuniel Mata who is there showing his new film Revolutión Zombi, a ...more