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 …

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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 …

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 …

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 …

Invitation to a Beheading, by Vladimir Nabokov

I always come back to good ol' Vlad, and this one keeps up the pattern of being awesome in unexpected ways. This book tells the story of Cincinnatus C. , a 30 year old teacher convicted of 'gnostical turpitude' and his experiences waiting around in a cell for his own execution. What struck me most …

Back from the doldrums

Hello world! I've been having a hard time writing lately, but I'm happy to say my funk is over, and I'm producing fictional words again! I've gone back to a project I was working on last year, and I've rediscovered the thread, which is not something I'm usually able to do when I'm away from …