Contemporary Literature's Greatest Geeks

There’s no polite way to say it. The star of Roberto Bolaño’s long-awaited novel, The Third Reich, is a geek — a gamer geek, to be precise. And it’s the real-world implications of his all-consuming pastime that underlie the book’s action, even as he relaxes on the beach with his beautiful girlfriend and parties into the night with new friends. The immense role gaming plays in Bolaño’s atmospheric, slow-burning novel, written before The Savage Detectives and 2666 and serialized by The Paris Review in advance of its publication last month, got us thinking about the many memorable geeks contemporary literature has given us. A selection of our favorites is after the jump; add yours in the comments.

Udo Berger, The Third Reich

The diarist whose entries comprise Bolaño’s novel isn’t just a gamer — he’s the German national war games champion, who means to write an important article on the topic while he vacations in Spain. While Udo spends pages expounding upon strategy, and much of the book is devoted to an increasingly disturbing match, he also isn’t your typical geek. For one thing, although he doesn’t exactly excel at maintaining relationships, he certainly gets laid.