Multiple Choice, Alejandro Zambra Rothdas book review RSS
3.5 Stars

An exciting concept for a book that is let down by somewhat less than exciting execution. The conceit is that the book is in the form of a multiple choice test, with each question on the test acting as a short story or poem. So far so good. As an example of the form, here is one of the cleverer test questions, where you are given a series of statements and need to choose statements to remove in order to eliminate un-needed information.

      Question 57:
      1) A curfew is a regulation prohibiting free circulation in public within a determined area.
      2) It tends to be decreed in times of war or popular uprising.
      3) The dictatorship imposed one in Santiago, Chile, From September 11, 1973, until January 2, 1987.
      4) One summer evening my father went out walking with no destination in mind. It grew late, and he had to sleep at a friend's house.
      5) They made love, she got pregnant, I was born.

      A) None
      B) 5
      C) 1,2, and 3
      D) 4 and 5
      E) 2
So, it is a tiny story, and depending on which lines you remove you can unpack several other tiny stories each with different meanings/goals. This is neat and I like it! At its best it reminds me of the epilogues in _The Black Prince_. Now though, let's move on to the next test question.
      Question 58:
      1) I didn't want to talk about you, but it's inevitable
      2) I'm talking about you right now. And you're reading this, and you know it's about you.
      3) Now I am words that you read and wish did not exist.
      4) I hate you.
      5) You would like to have the power of a censor.
      6) So no one else would ever read these words.
      7) I hate you.
      8) You ruined my life.
      9) Now I am words you cannot erase.

      A) None
      B) A
      C) B
      D) C
      E) D
It is not exactly Pale Fire. Read as a statement about an ex, it is cringe-worthy. As a statement about a parent or a dictator, it's a bit better but still not great. So, the book has an uneven quality, where some parts are very likeable while others are much less clever/interesting. Overall I did like it (and the book is only 100 pages, so it is at least short), but it didn't quite live up to its potential.