BECAUSE: Austerlitz is possessed of a form all its own. It's long been in vogue to blur the lines between fiction and non-, between novel and memoir, and W.G. did that before it was cool. But Austerlitz, which is basically about Sebald wandering around Europe, doesn't do it as a gimmick. You get the sense that this is simply what he had to write. Austerlitz is about the intricate, horrifying, inhuman destruction upon which all societies, certainly Western ones, are built. An understandable thing for a German to have been obsessed about. Its message is that we all live in the silent, beautiful ruins of sadistic disaster. And it falls to Sebald to uncover those ruins. To read it is to stop and smell the roses, except, you know, roses that smell like sadistic destruction.