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Saturday, January 9, 2010
Order "Invisible" HERE (or use the Search Inside feature to read from it)
Paul Auster at Wikipedia
Read an Extract Here
INTRODUCTION: I have never read anything by Paul Auster before though I was aware of his fame. I saw some reviews of this novel that intrigued me and when I saw it featured prominently in a chain bookstore, I browsed it and got hooked on the first pages so I got a copy immediately and I could not put it down until very late at night when I finished it. A "mainstream literary" novel with a very sfnal plot, full of twists and turns, as well as a technical feat of narration in various modes, all combining successfully in an unitary whole.
OVERVIEW/FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "Invisible" stands at about 320 pages and is divided into four parts. The first three parts follow Adam Walker, the novel's main character in the crucial three seasons of 1967 (Spring, Summer, Fall) when as a twenty year old student, he is embroiled in events that will mark him for life.
These three parts are loosely connected by the meta-narrator, a currently famous writer and former college roommate of Adam, who forty years or so later is contacted by Adam with a request for help to put together the three parts in a novel. The three parts represent also a feat of technical achievement, being narrated in first, second and third person respectively, all keeping the voice of Adam consistent and fresh. There is a coda like fourth part in which the unnamed meta-narrator investigates further some of the previously described events and sheds more light on them through the diary of a main character from the third part.
A coming of age story, an existential mystery, a page turner full of twists, "Invisble" is a novel you do not want to put down once you start. Despite it's relative shortness as pages go, it packs the punch of novels twice its size.
ANALYSIS:The first paragraph of the novel sets the tone for what will come later; ominous foreshadowing and some of the twists of the novel are already implied here:
"I shook his hand for the first time in the spring of 1967. I was a second-year student at Columbia then, a know-nothing boy with an appetite for books and a belief (or delusion) that one day I would become good enough to call myself a poet, and because I read poetry, I had already met his namesake in Dante’s hell, a dead man shuffling through the final verses of the twenty-eighth canto of the Inferno. Bertran de Born, the twelfth-century Provençal poet, carrying his severed head by the hair as it sways back and forth like a lantern—surely one of the most grotesque images in that book-length catalogue of hallucinations and torments."
Adam Walker, the earnest, idealistic but naive student and Rudolf Born the French visiting professor, jaded, all knowing and with a beautiful and seemingly mysterious girlfriend to boot, a chance meeting and almost everything follows from here.
At the beginning of the novel, Adam seems to be the archetypal innocent twenty year old, student, relatively privileged and sheltered, interested in poetry and girls who gets attracted in the orbit of an older, seemingly rich and successful mentor and we think we know at least in general terms where the novel will go, until of course the rug is pulled from under us and everything changes. From then on we *must* follow Adam and discover what was misleading, what was false and what was true and of course, each new twist will make us revisit all that came before and see how little we understood from such a seemingly straightforward tale.
Juxtaposed with meditation on violence, war and the whole ferment and turbulence of the period, the focus on the several main characters and their interactions pays off in a deeply moving personal novel. Highly, highly recomended.
12:02 AM | Posted by Liviu | | Edit Post