Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Chance encounters

   A couple of years ago a friend gave me “Austerlitz” by W G Sebald. It is one of the few novels (if it can be classed as a novel) that I have read several times. Sebald has an unpretentious style and covers big themes as he meanders through time and thought.

   Last week my friend's husband, who has read more than I will ever read, suggested that I try “Rings of Saturn” also by Sebald. With that in mind, and seeing that I find second-hand books more agreeable than new ones, I wandered into “Books for Amnesty” in Hammersmith, London. It was during my first trip back to England in years. Despite generous assistance from one of the bookshop's volunteers I couldn't find “Rings of Saturn”, but found instead “Vertigo” the first volume of a trilogy that ends with “Rings of Saturn”. This chain of events – ordinary, multi-layered and somehow slightly unreal - seemed a fitting way to find a book by Sebald.