A book too good for me to handle? Some thoughts on impostor syndrome.

I recently (start of the year) had a bit of a crises of confidence, and I'm still not sure I've fully recovered. It was probably a combination of many things, but I think W.G. Sebald's books (Vertigo and The Emigrants) were a big factor. Not only because they are about memory and perception, but because …

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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 …

The Last Samurai, by Helen Dewitt

No, it has nothing to do with the 2003 Tom Cruise movie (which came out 3 years after this novel was released)--and that I need to make that distinction at all is an illustration of the sad state of American culture, because this book was flipping amazing and I can't believe I've never heard of …

Character quirks

I've been listening to my first Raymond Chandler novel, The Big Sleep, and it's a lot better written and a lot less sexist than I'd expected.  What has stood out to me so far is how good he is at quickly putting a clear picture of a new character in your head. All of the …

The Emigrants, W.G. Sebald

Much like the others I've read by this author, this book deals heavily with memory, loss, and--more directly than the others--the holocaust.  The narrator recounts his experiences with four characters, in four sections of the book. Each character is an emigrant from Germany, and each, in some way, seems to want to forget some aspect …

The Handmaid’s Tale: a negative side of human adaptability

I finished this dystopian classic by Margaret Atwood and was both impressed and frustrated. I was impressed by how believable the story was. In the afterward the author talks about how she took great care to put nothing in the book that hadn't already happened somewhere in history, and no technology that didn't exist. She …

Translating poetry: how can meaning be preserved?

I'm so enamored with Sebald that I got a book of his poetry, Across the Land and the Water (from the library, just in case it turns out I'm not a poetry kind of guy.) I've not read much of any poetry, by anyone,  but Sebald's writing is just so damn poetic anyway, I figured …