Category Archives: Fiction

Sebald’s The Emigrants and Phantasms

Walking England’s oldest pathway in between immersing in WG Sebald, placing foot after foot on a path used by walkers 5000 years ago, reflecting on the memories and stones and truths in The Emigrants. A grass trackway crosses chalk downs beside clumps of trees sitting … Continue reading

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Peculiar, if not Deranged

I have this fascination for fictional libraries, imagining myself absorbed for hours checking out the titles and editions on their shelves. Aside from Borges’s speculations about fictional books, one of my favourites is detailed by Anne Michaels in Fugitive Pieces (I’ve long pondered … Continue reading

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Vertigo by WG Sebald

Freud claimed that a mourner perceives the world as empty after the loss of a love-object. Sebald’s narrator in Vertigo is filled with this sense of melancholy, which coloured my days reading this book. This mood finds an echo, not … Continue reading

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One Wrong Move

What does human reason become when it steps outside its limits? There’s this chilling passage in Sebald’s Vertigo, a digression into Giacomo Casanova’s incarceration in the Doge’s Palace prison chambers Casanova considered the limits of human reason. He established that, while it might … Continue reading

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Notes on Stendhal, via Sebald, Beckett et al.

Sebald chooses soldier, lover and would-be writer Marie-Henri Beyle to open the first section of Vertigo. He never mentions him by his better known pen-name Stendhal, nor does he reveal that his ‘essay’ and photographs are drawn from Stendhal’s fictionalised autobiography La Vie de Henri … Continue reading

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Quirky Treasure-House of Sebald’s Mind

Leafing through an anthology of articles and essays called The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with WG Sebald, it strikes me how little of his work I’ve spent any time with. My love of his books is based solely on Rings of Saturn, his … Continue reading

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Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf

Time is set free in Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, scenes come together and dissolve with little unity beyond the absence of the book’s central character, Jacob Flanders. The narrative makes its own time, almost free of plot, but Woolf feels … Continue reading

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Immobile in Jacob’s Room

I am a mischievous reader. Sometimes I am unable to release myself into the flow of narrative in the way I imagine a writer intends. I get stuck on a sentence, a phrase, sometimes a portmanteau word, and am unable … Continue reading

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Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Before trying to convey my impressions of Fog Island Mountains I ought to begin with a disclaimer that its writer Michelle Bailat-Jones is not only a friend, but a discerning reader who shares more of my literary tastes than any … Continue reading

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What Companions Does the Wind Have?

A sample below of Hans Henny Jahnn’s writing from the horrific Kebad Kenya. I’m currently reading a selection published by Atlas Press. I owe a debt to flowerville for my introduction to Jahnn’s work, little of which exists in English translation. … Continue reading

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