Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra

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Picked this one up during a random perusal of the library’s stacks. Was drawn in by the sleeve and title. Much to my delight, the book itself continued the wackiness.

Didn’t know what to make of the first section, which is just a one-word multiple choice exercise, but I enjoyed the experimentation. The following sections give you more yarn to work with and so, I found, are more engaging. As you get to the final sections and the longer form pieces, the strength of the writing, previously hinted at, becomes undeniable.

Most of the vignettes tend to deal with men struggling to cope with their responsibilities to their families and their strained relationships wherein. There’s some wonderful portraits of Chilean life under Pinochet and the complicated marital and familial relationships which we can only assume were casualties of the repressive regime that inflicted huge psycho-social damage on its citizens.

Despite the horror of the regime Pinochet presided over, the book is laugh out loud funny, bleakly so in many respects, but still hilarious. Redolent of Monty Python for me.

You have to commit to this book; not for its length, as its short enough for one to get through it in one sitting (although due to the strength of the final 3 sections, I’d recommend 2). You have to commit to participate in what the book asks of you. It’s a multiple choice questionnaire after all and is meant to be read as such. If you do, hilarity ensues.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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