Clark's Reviews > Austerlitz

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
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's review
Apr 10, 2012

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Read in April, 2012

In a way, this book is either 5 stars or 1 star, and really it's both at different times. There are passages of thrilling brilliance bookended by interminable prattling. The narrative is essentially exactly what you would imagine it would be like to talk to an articulate and eloquent intellectual at length without getting in a word edgewise and that's probably why it was so maddening to read this novel. When the narrator actually catches your attention, you get a first class treatise on the nature of space and cities in modern Europe. However, Austerlitz becomes incrementally more difficult to care about as a person as he descends deeper into his search for his lost parents because he maintains the same mannered, digressive speech when recounting the search. And frankly, the structure of the novel is irritating. I'm all for experimentation in writing, but there really was no reason to write this as one long passage with 5-6 paragraph breaks. It was fatiguing to get through. (Also didn't love the sentence that went on for 7 pages somewhere late in the book.) There were some great ideas in here, but they were buried in a morass of tedious rambling.

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