Paul Auster’s INVISIBLE…

… which is a real PITA for his publicist.paul_auster

Blogs: where terrible jokes get their chance to shine.

Word from home is that Auster’s new book INVISIBLE, forthcoming from Henry Holt, arrived in today’s mail. I greet the occasion of new Auster with excitement, but it’s a Doug Flutie sort of excitement – it’s awesome until you realize that one Hail Mary pass (The New York Trilogy) was as good as it got. Which I say without having read all of his books. (Though I’m pretty sure Timbuktu wouldn’t change my mind.) Leviathan was good but ultimately unmemorable; ditto for The Book of Illusions; Oracle Night was, for my money, a very good book, but everything since then – The Brooklyn Follies, Travels in the Scriptorium, Man in the Dark – has been a series of contrived forays into a sort of “Dungeons & Dragons” of his better work – characters obsessed with their overwrought emotions and dramatic statements, in ways that never quite seem to align with their situations. I’m hoping this new one will be a return to form – or, if not another Hail Mary, at least a few completed passes.


4 Replies to “Paul Auster’s INVISIBLE…”

  1. I have to beg to differ as far as Doug Flutie is concerned. He was a joy to watch throughout his entire CFL career. But, much as it pains me to admit it, I may be with you on Paul Auster. The New York Trilogy has a secure place in my pantheon of greats and I agree that Oracle Nights was a very good book. His recent books have not excited me. But, even not at his best, I find his work a good deal more thought-provoking than that of many another writer. So, I expect I will always eagerly await his next book.

  2. If “Man in the Dark” didn’t do much for you, “Invisible” probably won’t either—it shares some of the same nested narratives and dark-night-of-the-soul meanderings. I do think it’s a very sharp book that takes a lot of interesting risks, but I’m a little more charitable toward Auster than you seem to be; I think “Book of Illusions” is one of his best books. “Timbuktu,” though, is indeed a dog.

  3. Kate: that makes the Flutie reference even more accurate – Flutie, known in the U.S. for his Hail Mary, known for a solid career overall in Canada. Sub in “Auster/TNYT/France” and it’s still true.

    Mark: I don’t think it was the nested narratives and dark-night meanderings that I found so uninteresting as the execution. I’ve complained here in the past of Auster’s not aging well – with each book, his characters all sound the same: cantankerous old man. When you have a teenage/young adult woman and an old man in conversation, and they both sound the same, it’s a fail. And there’s a “cantankerous old man drama” (for lack of a more eloquent phrase) to many of the events and emotions Auster explores – like the grandfather who gets all worked up over the injustice of crosswalk signal delays, or speaks with great drama about the hangnail on his big toe. Not that the issues Auster explores are crosswalks and hangnails, but the execution of interaction and response with those issues always seems cantankerous.

  4. I feel a need to chime in with respect to The New York Trilogy. While it is Auster’s most important book, this is only because it provided the framework for his later fiction and why it is/will be selected as Auster’s contribution to the American cannon. However, I personally find the subsequent books much more engaging, therefore ‘better’, because they substantiate what Auster outlined in TNYT. A comparison could be made to a scientific/mathematic theory– the applications of the theory being much more interesting than the original theory. I’ve only read TNYT once, and don’t plan on reading it again, but I have read almost everything else twice.

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