September Reading

My September reading was not quite as strenuous as last month, given that I read Middlemarch in August, from which I am still feeling the glow of accomplishment and the sense of its infinite depths.

Here you’ll see just one masterpiece–Austerlitz–and two books I didn’t quite finish, that I skimmed and eventually put down. Those are How to Disappear and Torpor. I had enjoyed the quirky, downbeat, emphatically loserly style of Kraus’s other books, I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia, but maybe the grimness of the times we’re living through made it impossible for me to make it through this one, which included a tour through Romania to adopt an orphan, and an accounting of the horrific abuse and neglect so many babies and children suffered under the Ceausescu regime. But though A Girl Returned was also the story of an abandoned child–in this case an adopted child “returned” to her birth family, which also had its horrific moments, it was redeemed by the love she found with her birth sister Adriana, and a childhood friend, Patrizia, and a reconciliation of sorts with her adoptive mother. And the girl’s insistence on taking her own life back after she had been thrown among strangers.

Austerlitz is a book I read often. Sometimes I linger in bookstores, browsing the “S” section, wishing a new Sebald book would magically appear, though it never will. So I read the existing ones over and over and over, each time they seem as if I had never read them before, except maybe The Emigrants, my favorite, which I almost have memorized.

Weather, much lauded, much recommended, seemed like it had been partly derived from other people’s work. I recognized some of the (unattributed) podcasts and articles she’d gotten the material from. As such, I couldn’t ally myself with the book; I was already allied with the original material. But I liked the paragraph – paragraph – paragraph style. And the rest–art criticism and Jungian psychology. Now, I am reading myths.