WG Sebald, Austerlitz
The novel as travelogue of recollection and loss. Of the rootless migrant, adrift in denial yet governed by the dark impulses of deep memory. Of stories, pictures and observational lists told at a narrative degree removed (She said, Austerlitz explained, etc) and consequently perilously close to abstracted distance. A novel without much corporeality or bodily ties; a work of remembrance addressed to the vertiginous void of oblivion, fiendishly devoted to details and the conceptual slip of time and generations lost. And yet powerfully European in a geographic sense, informed wholly by the world lost after WWII. Actually, I'd hesitate to even call it a novel in the formal/dialogic sense of the word, with narrative contours and inexorable movement; it is almost pure travelogue set on the rails and stations of memory. Ahem. There is sufficient mastery in 't (especially on migrant mentality, unbelonging etc), for sure, but also a touch of aloofness in its fortresses and death camps and myriad vaulted objects. Leaves one hungry for the cerebral finesse of the full-blooded writer.