Frost, by Thomas Bernhard

The opening paragraph of this novel is one of the best I've read, and is so humorous and sets the tone so well that I had to read the book. The narrator, a young medical intern, is given an unusual assignment to stay with, and observe his superior's brother, a reclusive painter named Strauch, and …

The Silent Angel, by Heinrich Böll

I bought this based on W.G. Sebald's recommendation, and it did not disappoint. Set in Germany, in the weeks after the war has ended, the story follows one soldier as he wanders the wreckage, looking for food, shelter and love. The writing is continuously subtle and deft, and the imagery almost always seems to be …

On the Natural History of Destruction, by W.G. Sebald

In World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were bombed by the Allies, and many were entirely destroyed, leaving over seven million homeless, and 600,000 dead--twice the number of all American casualties in the war. The subject of this book is to ask, given the sheer scope of this destruction, why did rarely any …

The influence of Dostoevsky

I've been reading The Idiot, and the same as with Crime and Punishment, I am now seeing its influences on everything. I will share just one example, early in the novel. Prince Myshkin, the protagonist and titular 'idiot,' is a very open and guileless person, which leads many people who encounter him to doubt his …

700 year old emoji

I'm reading Purgatory by Dante, and came across this passage: The sockets of their eyes were gemless rings; one who reads omo in the face of men, could easily have recognized the m. My eyes widened a bit and I thought, that can't possibly mean what I think it means. But I checked the historical …

Austerlitz, by W.G. Sebald

Another stunning novel by Sebald, and this is the first of his to approach anything like a plot. As with all of Sebald's books, the themes are on memory, and the Holocaust. Of all his books I've read so far, this one most directly addresses the two. The narrator, who as usual is a maybe/maybe …

Just 400?

I got to 400 books read on my Goodreads account recently, and though I'm sure that's not every book I've ever read, it is not far off. What a low number! I've been reading 25+ years, and that's the number I've reached? I fee like I never have time to read these days, and in …