This book – by¬†Nathacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan – is reviewed by me in today’s Star Tribune, and comes to us from Graywolf Press.


On a stockpile of erasers.

When I am dead and my son comes to empty my house, he will find a small suitcase on top of my wardrobe crammed with the erasers I that I have amassed throughout my life. On every trip I have made, whether on the island or abroad, I have never been able to restrain myself, I have always bought erasers of different colors and sizes. My son will be baffled, he will perceive it as an old man’s whim. Perhaps I should explain to him that it has been my particular way of frustrating time’s attrition, postponing death and sustaining the illusion that one can always erase everything and make a fresh start.

– From THE LAST BROTHER, by Nathacha Appanah

Characters resurfacing.

Until I was thirty years old, I lived quietly and virtuously and in accordance, as it were, with my biography, and it had never occurred to me that forgotten characters from books read during adolescence might resurface in my life, or even in other people’s lives.
…from the forthcoming WHILE THE WOMEN ARE SLEEPING by Javier Mar√≠as; my review is forthcoming with Booklist.

WELL NOW. Here’s the cover for the forthcoming David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, mofos) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. That little fellow on the bridge is me, contemplating jumping, but wait here comes my good friend with a review copy of the new David Mitchell novel! Life continues.

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.