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Book Talk: The Rings of Saturn

October 4, 2009

W. B. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn was another title off the book recommendation list from the fine folks at Obscura. And I can see exactly why.

I’ve been diving into these books blind, having never heard of them, read any reviews nor even knew what the books were about. And so, I expected this (not reading the backcover very carefully, as usual) to be a novel in the traditional sense, with a narrator and a storyline and conflict and resolution. But this, this was nothing like that. It’s a bit of a travelogue, imagined and real, historical and present, delving into places of such incredible beauty and strangeness, a world that becomes too wonderful to be immersed in, histories and characters that touch and flutter. To try and name them would take away the magic, this floating sense of wonder.

Reading this on subways before class, while waiting for trains on heated platforms, it took me away to these lands, and made me never want to leave. The language is delightful, and the tone is so distinctive, I could actually hear the voice and it was one I wanted to listen to. I wanted to reread pages and passages over and over again, just in case I missed a detail. It’s like a tour, narrated by Seblad, whose eye and ability to capture stories and histories is simply marvelous. Recommended? Yes. And I’m even more excited to reading the rest of the books on that precious list.

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