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 ...
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 ...Frightened, Udo refuses to leave, even after Ingeborg returns home, and his increasingly feverish dreams push him into delirium. As everything slips beyond his grasp, he attempts to re-assert himself by engaging the enigmatic and severely disfigured El Quemado -- a foreigner who lives in a Spartan burrow on the beach -- in a days-long match of his favourite war game, Third Reich. But, too late to stop the madness, he realizes that the consequences of this game are much more serious than he ever imagined. Combining the exhilaration of The Savage Detectives with the darkness of his later work, The Third Reich -- Bolano's first new novel since the epic 2666 -- is a visceral book exploring memory, madness and violence. It is both the perfect way to discover the dazzling genius of Roberto Bolano and an unmissable addition to the oeuvre for those who already have.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-08-22 Many hallmarks of Bolano's work are present in this novel, written in 1989 and found among his papers after his death in 2003. Presented in diary-like entries over a two-month span late in an unspecified year after WWII, the book follows the unstable Udo Berger, a man who veers between love and hate and is barely able to control his violent impulses. Udo has come from Stuttgart with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, to the Costa Brava in Spain where he vacationed a decade before. A self-absorbed, egotistical autodidact war game champion, Udo obsessively plays a strategy game called the Third Reich while Ingeborg enjoys the beach with Charly and Hanna, another German couple they've met, and three local characters: the Wolf, the Lamb, and a badly burned beach worker called El Quemado. Charly goes for a swim and disappears, and Udo makes advances on the hotel manager, an older woman who calls his game "obscene... horrible... tasteless." Udo soon lures El Quemado to play and events turn feverish and surreal; the novice defeats Udo, symbolically repeating the Nazis' downfall. Infused with unease and menace, deliberately ambiguous about reality vs. perception, Bolano's novel is a psychological thriller without a convincing payoff. Its atmosphere, however, clearly prefigures the preoccupations of the author's later masterpieces. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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