Books, Bikes, and Food

Reviews, Recipes, Rides… and some other things, too.

José Donoso: El obsceno pájaro de la noche (1970)

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I didn’t finish El obsceno pájaro de la noche. I think I got led onto it by Jorge Volpi’s praise, although I’m not sure about that any more since I have a very bad memory (this fact will again become relevant below). The truth is, I started it and I really, really tried to push through, but it just wasn’t for me. At least not right now.

It’s the kind of book that requires stamina and, I think, a lot of uninterrupted reading time because (a) it’s huge and (b) if you keep interrupting your reading for several days repeatedly, you will get completely lost, unless you have an incredible memory. And a lot of uninterrupted reading time I have not, my friends. Between the summer finally finding its way to Hamburg and enabling almost daily bike commutes (no reading time on the bus), the more active social life that comes with summer, and the constant need to organise stuff like my impending move, I completely lost track of what on earth was going on in El obsceno pájaro de la noche, which is where the bad memory comes in again.

It’s full of time and perspective shifts, the narrator is more than just unreliable (I would say downright schizophrenic, but who am I to judge), and it’s overall not easy reading material. I’d love to get back to it one day with more time and brainpower, but for the moment I’m giving up. I’m interested though: have any of you read it? What did you make of it?

English title: The Obscene Bird of Night
German title: Der obszöne Vogel der Nacht

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Author: bettinathenomad

Nomadic fan of books, food, the outdoors, and water. International Relations geek. Chlorine is my perfume.

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