Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Review - Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

Before writing out this review, I decided to travel to the land of Wikipedia to read more about author W. G. Sebald. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he died in December of 2001. Although I had not really heard of Sebald until recently, his novel Austerlitz deeply affected me.

Austerlitz is a story of an unnamed narrator who meets architectural historian Jacques Austerlitz by accident one day while visiting Antwerp in the 1960s. That meeting changes the narrator's life forever as he is privy to a life lived by a man who had to discover his identity. Although Austerlitz was raised by a Welsh couple, he found that his true home and family were quite different than expected. So begins a 30 year conversation between the two that reads as though one is dreaming.

Sebald writes as though he were dreaming; perhaps he did dream this novel then wrote it down in the early morning so as not to forget it. I felt myself with the two while listening silently to Austerlitz tell his story that does not have an ending, merely a discovery that continues to plague, or bless, his life. Scattered throughout the novel are black and white photographs and drawings that add to the overall tale; the reader is made to feel that they are that much closer to what Austerlitz and the narrator experience in this novel. I found myself staring at several of the abstract photos, wondering about the whole picture if there was one.

Sebald's writing impressed me so much that by the time I had read 1/3rd of the book, I had already visited a bookstore to purchase a copy of Sebald's novel book The Rings of Saturn, of which I am chomping at the bit to read! Call me insane (of which I am to a point - creative!), but I do not want to lose my dreamlike state that I acquired while reading this novel. I want it to linger inside of me for as long as humanly possible, or at least until I can read The Rings of Saturn.

Ich danke Ihnen, Herr Sebald. 

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