I started reading a novel by W.G. Sebald called Rings of Saturn.
No, it is not sci-fi.
Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald (he went by Max) is a German writer who died back in 2001, at the age of 57. He suffered from a heart attack while driving and died instantly in a head-on collision. He’s known for another prose fiction piece, The Emigrants, that I read in my college Capstone class. Sebald was well on his way to winning a Nobel Prize, the man practically created a new form of literature. He combines memoir, fiction, history, biography, along with a few other elements… just for fun. What is strange is his works feel like you’re reading something from the nineteenth century, but they are unlike anything written during those years… so contradictory.
Reading his novels is no easy feat, and I have found Rings of Saturn has required more patience than The Emigrants. His style of writing is so unique and interesting, it’s like sewing together dreams. The past leaks into the present, future envelops the past, time has no definition with Sebald. If you’re wanting a challenge, look no further. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of what it is you are reading that keeps the pages turning. Surely it will all come together at the end… right?
Sebald’s work was translated into English, and though it was translated successfully, you always wonder what might be missing. It’s how I feel with one of my absolute favorite novels 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m pretty sure I have recommended this several times through my blog. I’m also certain Mr. Green has yet to read the copy I gave him several years ago. Tsk tsk.
Marquez was born in Columbia in 1927; he died two years ago in 2014 at the age of 87. He was a brilliant author who is known to have helped shaped the genre of magical realism, or in the least cast a spotlight on it. He would never take the credit he was due. Marquez grew up the oldest of 12 kids, dirt poor, he pulls a lot from the stories he was told about his parents and grandparents. Magical realism, in short, takes what is fantastical and makes it possible, makes it realistic. What is ordinary life and what is “magical” becomes one in the same. It is more serious in nature than say… The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Magical realism isn’t a genre where one escapes to a fanciful place, if anything the magic amplifies the reality of our daily lives.
Many complain to me about struggling to finish this one, I can’t understand this. To each his own. Those who didn’t like One Hundred Years of Solitude did like Love in the Time of Cholera. Maybe check that one out first if you have doubts.
I really, really love when authors explore combining different genres. I really, really adore magical realism. Salman Rushdie admired Marquez as well, an Indian British author. I’ve also started his latest novel Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, which has proven to be intense. My ADD reading is in full swing still…
I needed to flex my nerdy side for a post, and gush a little about some of the authors I admire. When I come across a book that inspires I just have to share. Especially when those books draw from some beautifully rough and strange places.
I’m, shockingly, on the lookout for some new reads, so if you readers have some suggestions then shoot me a message!
It is thanks to my evenings reading alone that I am still more or less sane. – W. G. Sebald