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Review: Exercises in Style & Amulet

January 11, 2010

Publisher: Oneworld Classics

(originally published as Exercices de style/1947)

Paperback: 200 Pages


An indelible delight through the remarkable world of language, Exercises in Style is, by all means, a wonderfully “show-off” piece of work. One unremarkable story told in 99 different styles, Queneau pulls off an impressive linguistic romp through the art of storytelling. While not every piece, delivers, and some aren’t even very readable; the collection, in a succinct 200 pages, shows that perspective is a slippery, fallible thing and that storytelling is complex in its many different forms and contortions. Yet, in the end, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Publisher: Picador/2006

(originally published as Amuleto/1999)

Paperback: 192 pages


Roberto Bolano is entirely worth the hype, yet, like most authors, there will be ebbs and flows in quality. Not as mind-bogglingly great as classics like 2666, Amulet is good but compared to his other works it’s positively mediocre. That’s not a word that can be used lightly to describe Bolano’s work. Yet, Amulet is mediocre in comparison. It’s difficult not to compare with his other novels, Bolano’s work are through-and-through his own; themes of political upheaval, the lost and the wandering, poets and poetry, ghosts of the past. His work belongs to each other, they inform and intersect; characters pop-up as background characters and there is always a haunted quality to them, something on the edge of the horizon. Amulet has a sense of a ghost writing the tale; it never fully forms but wisps away. It’s similar to By Night in Chile, in that it recounts a life but while By Night is a hallucinogenic and claustrophobic novel, Amulet is just dull. A Bolano novel to be read after reading 2666, The Savage Detectives etc

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 1:03 pm

    My husband really enjoyed Exercises In Style. I’m hoping to get to it this year.


    • January 12, 2010 6:12 pm

      It’s very good and does make you appreciate how wonderful language & storytelling can be


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