Art Garfunkel famously keeps track of the books he has read since 1968. As of writing this, the count is 1327 (he does not add a review). I thought I could do something similar but I am adding short reviews of books as I read them, and I rake my brain over what I read over the last decades. This is, evidently, a work-in-progress: there are 566 reviews so far. Titles marked with a * are particular favorites.

Christoph Ransmayr: The Dog King *

I have to call this a favourite, but am actually in some doubt. Yes: it is a wonderful and different book. It is ‘alternative history’, but where most of that genre is more-or-less pulp, this is actually ‘high literature’. The premise is that after WWII, the Morgenthau Plan was implemented, leaving Germany (and Austria) as barren, deindustrialized wastelands under perpetual occupation. So, a sort of post-apocalyptic story, but very far from, say, The Road. But that is also because the grander theme here is how to deal with the collective guilt after the Holocaust — although this is never spelt out in so much detail, it is always lurking. To some degree, the characters are enigmas, and whatever feelings they have is never articulated. There is desire, but it is never fulfilled or really acted upon. The world is dark and hopeless, and the only glimmer of hope is getting away, to Brazil. There are other details: the eternal peace after WWII seems to actually be a never-ending background war with one peace treaty after the other, somewhere in the world. And one observation: the first chapter is set in the present, and the rest lead up to joining that timeline again. But there seems to be a slight glitch that may (or may not) mean that some of the story is misunderstood. Surely a book that will stay with you for a while after reading it.