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the Complete Review
the complete review - non-fiction

Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ?

Daniel Kehlmann

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To purchase Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ?

Title: Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ?
Author: Daniel Kehlmann
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2005
Length: 149 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ? - Deutschland
  • Über Bücher
  • Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ? has not been translated into English
  • Includes numerous pieces previously published between 2001 to 2005

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Our Assessment:

B : decent selection of introductions to books, plus a bit more

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Rheinischer Merkur A 17/11/2005 Henriette Ärgerstein
Die Zeit . 27/10/2005 Franz Schuh

  From the Reviews:
  • "Hier gewinnt man Einblick in die Werkstatt des Romanciers. Er denkt nicht nur über Historie und Erfahrung in seinem eigenen Roman nach, sondern beschäftigt sich auch mit Büchern anderer Autoren (.....) Ein ebenso geistreiches wie interessantes Buch, die intelligente Ergänzung zu einem faszinierenden Roman." - Henriette Ärgerstein, Rheinischer Merkur

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The bulk of Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ? consists of book reviews. The titles covered include some foreign classics -- Stendahl's The Red and the Black, Hamsun's On Overgrown Paths, and a new (and the first complete) German translation of Céline's Journey to the End of the Night -- but modern American literature dominates. Updike, Carver, Vonnegut, J.D.Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye -- even essay collections by Harold Bloom and Tom Wolfe (a review of Hooking Up).
       They're fine book introductions -- and in several cases they are indeed much closer to brief introductory surveys of author and work, rather than straightforward reviews -- but it's an odd mix of works. In addition, while American readers, in particular, might find the foreign perspective on native works of some interest, Kehlmann doesn't really go far enough in the reviews to add much to the discussion that is familiar in the United States: he's clearly presenting these works for a foreign (German-speaking) audience that is assumed to have much less familiarity with these figures.
       Of considerably greater interest are some of the other pieces. The title-piece, for example, is a companion piece to Kehlmann's recent novel about Alexander von Humboldt (and Carl Gauß), Die Vermessung der Welt, and explains some of the liberties the writer of fiction takes. He uses his novel as an example: the intriguing figure of Carlos Montúfar was, in fact, an important part of Humboldt's expedition, and accompanied him for much of the journey -- but Kehlmann simply did without him. It did not fit his fictional requirements -- having two men travel where, in real life, there had been three, worked much better. This particular, fairly radical cut, clearly marks this 'historical novel' as fictional (and that's certainly one of the reasons he did it), but he raises more general questions of how an author deals with facts, and reality. (One hopes the essay will be published in English in conjunction with the publication of the translation of the novel (expected in 2006).)
       Other pieces include an amusing one 'on reading one's own books' (still very young -- he was born in 1975 -- though already prolific (six work of fiction under his belt), this will probably be a subject worth revisiting for the author in a few decades' time ...). An acceptance speech, for the Candide-Prize, offers an interesting look at Voltaire, and there are overviews of figures likely to be less well- (or un-)known to English-reading readers, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and cabarettist Georg Kreisler.
       Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ? is a loose collection of short non-fiction pieces by a very young author. There's enough of interest here -- and any reader of his novel will be interested in the title-essay -- but for the most part it's simply fine but fairly unremarkable.

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Wo ist Carlos Montúfar ?: Reviews: Daniel Kehlmann: Other books by Daniel Kehlmann under Review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975. He lives in Vienna, where he studied philosophy and literature. He has published several works of fiction.

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