I, like most other readers, was first intrigued by the reviews of this book. From The New York Times and The New Yorker all the way down to my local paper, everyone had something to say about it. Dreamlike, epic, worldly, etc.
I don't normally purchase books, but I purchased this one.
I adored the first part, the second part, the last part, but the third part left me cold and confused and the fourth part, as you may have gathered thus far, is a collage of police response, political response, and personal responses to the hundreds of murders on the Mexico/US border.
I felt as though Bolano was trying to weave together his ability to write the personal narrative of a few characters, his ability to write almost fairy tale-like history, and an objective, raw account of reality. Instead of weaving them together, though, he placed them side-by-side, a sort of sampler plate of Bolano's abilities. It meant that most readers will most likely enjoy only some of the five sections.
His knowledge and perspective are astounding. The prose, when meant to be, is unique, intriguing, whimsical, or completely emotionless and succinct. Definitely written for a modern audience, as, unlike past authors, Bolano doesn't stretch anything beyond necessity, doesn't linger on any side story unless it's something the reader will inevitably feel to be vital. He keeps up a swift pace.
I recommend reading it. I recommend it for the pithy little quotations, for the little things that tie each part together, details from one clarifying mysteries from another, for the feeling that you're being taken on a crazy journey across multiple continents throughout the twentieth century, for the fact that you, as a reader, are bound to adore at least one of the five sections.
It's not perfect. We know that Bolano didn't have the opportunity to give it the time it deserved. But it's worth your time.