I’m sharing some of my favorite reads of 2016. See them all here.
Probably one of the easiest points of comparison for Lewinter is W.G. Sebald: they have that same fragmentary feel, there’s the eccentricity of following your own obsessions (no matter how small, personal, and obscure), there’s that sense of hidden currents connecting the world of the work, and there’s that first-person narrator who both is and isn’t the author.
Of course, that’s just one point of comparison. Lewinter is an original, so I don’t want to play up the Sebald comparisons too much. What is most immediately striking about these books is the intricacy of the text: not only are Lewinter’s sentences generally long, they are syntactically very complex. They don’t have the sort of baroque order that tends to rein in long-sentences-makers like Proust or Bernhard, and nor are they run-on sentences masquerading as long sentences, as in an book like Mathias Enard’s Zone.
Rather, Lewinter’s sentences are rather chaotic, accelerating in some places and slowing down in others, never reliably moving at a given speed or direction. Lewinter also makes use of all punctuation at his disposal (often in creative ways). These are books that take a little time to get used to, although once you grasp the art of reading Lewinter’s sentences, you will find that they are exceedingly carefully constructed, and the short pieces that make up each of these books are very well-conceived (as are the books as a whole). (Credit to Rachel Careau for amazing translation work.)
If you’re someone who loves language, do yourself a favor and enjoy these remarkable books. And if you’re just someone who loves goo books, do the same.