No Such Thing As Time (excerpt)

Sven Birkets

Some former students of the late W. G. Sebald recently posted a collection of nuggets from their old class notes. Their title, “Max Sebald’s Writing Tips,” felt like a fumble, suggesting that whatever those students may have learned from the master, they missed the main thing—appropriateness of tone. “Max Sebald’s Writing Tips” not only asserts a suspect casual intimacy with the author, it also puts everything that follows into a category generally reserved for grooming guides and household how-to brochures. But then, maybe the students were just tweaking the somber gravitas that clings to the man and literary prose of the sort he practiced. And who knows, maybe he was just “Max” when he sat around in class, sleeves rolled up, a cup of take-out coffee by his elbow.

Emily Gilbert