It is said that Bolano meant for this work to be published as five separate books over a five year period partly as a way to assure his family's future. The publishers decided to release it as a single work stating that would have been Bolano's literary preference. I'm not so sure. Each of the five parts have its own feeling and style. Even the plots, and some of the parts barely have that, are so loosely tied together that it seems like Bolano was still working on this novel and we have only received the rough draft. Frankly, it does feel like an unfinished work. What the reader finally receives is a 900 page tome with Bolano's dense and elegantly designed prose on every page searching for a theme. The first section, "The part about the critics" is easily the best. It is a lightly comic story about three male scholars and one female scholar tied together by their obsession over a elusive German writer and eventually the three men are tied together by their obsession over the woman. Fairly straight forward yet full of heart, I read on with anticipation. Alas I was to be disappointed for Bolano chose to follow his tale with wordy ramblings and multi-page paragraphs that are beautifully written yet suspiciously cold in style. I hesitate to describe the plot not because of the fear of spoilers but any attempt to find a plot that is resolved will be unsuccessful. I especially loathed "The Tale about the crimes" which is essentially an endless listing of murders which are as laborious to read as the Begats in the Book of Genesis. My suggestion? Read the first part for a five star story. It is the only reason I finally and reluctantly gave this book a generous three stars.