15 May, 2011

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald (2002)

In a world awash with Dan Brown, Harry Potter and that Girl with the Hornet’s Fire Tattoo, authors like Sebald slip under the radar, found only by the diligent or lucky. It’s a shame, for reading his work is a unique experience. It is understated, subtly cerebral and even after translation holds a style that is light yet intricate and at the same time unflinching. I don’t quite know how he does it. The effect is mesmerising, and throughout The Emigrants a sort of stripped-back yearning haunts the prose. If you haven’t guessed, he is among my favourite authors. You will either ‘get’ him or you won’t.

02 May, 2011

Mots d’Heures: Gousses Rames by Luis d’Antin van Rooten (1967)

I love this book. Purporting to be a collection of 40 undiscovered old French verses, this work is actually something else completely. But making the discovery is half the fun, so I won’t give it away here (though the title might). Best read out loud, you don’t have to know French, but it helps if you are familiar with the pronunciation. Each poem is annotated, and it is here that Mots d’Heures becomes a none too subtle dig at the pretentiousness of literary criticism.