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 …

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The Loser, by Thomas Bernhard

The rambling, obsessive, internal thoughts of a bitter loser... who'd have thought they'd make such good reading? The Loser is about three piano virtuosos who meet in their early 20s at a music school. All three have great talent, but one of them is Glenn Gould (a real piano virtuoso--this story mixes some fact in …

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 inner workings

Having recently read some great sci-fi for the first time in a couple years, I have some thoughts. I think my perspective has changed after the past few years of reading pretty much only literary classics. Coming back to science fiction after that, everything feels so transparent. I'm not sure if it's me, or just …

Is Sci-fi missing something?

A friend linked me this article about the squeamish hesitance of writers to call their books sci-fi, and the reputation sci-fi has for being cheap or base entertainment. Some of this rings true for me, too, even as a (ex?) sci-fi fan and writer myself. Their example of Faber is accurate. I remember when I …

The books I read in 2018: the good, the best, and the rest

This year I continued my exploration of the literary. I read 34 books, the same as last year (missing my goal of 40 by a fair amount) and only two of those could be called genre. Of those 34, most were brilliant, some extremely so, and very few were bland or uninteresting. I don't think …

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 …