“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that's the thread that we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” Paul Auster
The characters in Paul Auster’s novels often fall victim to psychological mind games but with his usual idiosyncratic style and use of post-modern structural layering, Auster has created a victim outside of the literary boundaries of his latest novel Invisible and that’s you, the reader.
The premise of the story is protagonist Adam Walker’s encounter with Rudolph Born and the unrelenting consequences of one fatal incident. But the story unusually is the least compelling aspect of the novel. The thrill of Invisible is in its subversive narrative presentation. From first to third person, the novel unfolds using various voices and literary trickery that present the reader with four interlocking and complex parts, each with great depth. Unlike Italo Calvino’s If on a Winters Night a Traveller, Auster is more subtle in his manipulation of the reader, as the familiar distance between reader and the page remains throughout.
Spanning over four decades and continents from Brooklyn to a remote Caribean island, Invisible builds on the regular themes of chance, truth, deception, imagination and reality on which Auster firmly stamps his authorship. However, there is something distinctly European about the book, almost Bertollucian. The seduction of Walker and his relationship with Margot is reminiscent of Last Tango in Paris (1972) sans dairy products. And the unsettling incestuous relationship alludes to The Dreamers (2003). Using distance implicated by the narrative strategy, Auster is able to disassociate himself from expectation and explicitly detail a forbidden sexual relationship that as a result, is impossible to read without grimacing.
Invisible is an intelligent, complex and wholly fulfilling novel and like most of Auster’s work, largely inexplicable. Invisible sits comfortably alongside New York Trilogy, Music of Chance and Oracle Night adding to his impressive array of metafictional masterpieces.
The Best of Paul Auster
New York Trilogy
Music of Chance
The Brooklyn Follies
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