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  • Paul Auster's 'Invisible'

    Tue, 01 Dec 2009 02:14

    Paul Auster's latest novel, Invisible, reviewed in the Seattle Times:

    A Paul Auster book is like an old-fashioned page-turner that you bring everywhere you go so you can keep reading and reading. But while you may get lost in Auster's world, the experience also can be unnerving. This is part of his enormous appeal as a writer and the basis of his unique stature in American fiction.

    Invisible, Auster's edgy 13th novel, begins straightforwardly, set in New York City in 1967, but is subsequently told by different narrators from varying points of view. Adam Walker is a self-absorbed college student and an aspiring poet. He meets Rudolph Born and his girlfriend, Margot, at a party and is immediately drawn to them. Auster sets up the mysterious nature of the attraction masterfully: "The truth was that I had never run across people like this before, and because the two of them were so alien to me, so unfamiliar in their affect, the longer I talked to them, the more unreal they seemed to become -- as if they were imaginary characters in a story that was taking place in my head."

    In the days that follow, Born offers to bankroll a literary magazine with Adam as editor, and Margot and Adam act on their mutual desire. Adam is skeptical of the magazine venture, but the force of personality of his new friends proves irresistible. Near the end of Part I, a horrifying crime shatters Adam to the core and alters his world.

    Part II takes place 40 years later in 2007, told at first by Jim, a former college classmate of Adam's who has become a famous novelist. Now in his 60s, Adam has fallen gravely ill, and asks Jim to look at a chapter of the manuscript he has written -- the story he, the narrator of Part I, has been telling us. Adam's "nonfiction" narrative is now told in the second person, and the "you" perspective gives the action a relentless and febrile quality, heightening Adam's personal crises present and past, including the death of his younger brother when he was a child and an "incestuous rampage" with his sister, Gwyn (more...)

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