Thursday, 26 August 2010

A Year in Books 2010 - Invisible

Authors can be a bit like favourite bands, you keep buying each new release even though secretly you wish that they would just rediscover the magic formula of an earlier lp. Paul Auster is one of my favourite authors but his last few books have been good but looking back with each one there has been a little voice that I've tried to ignore. A voice of disappointment that the new book isnt as good as my earlier favourites and a suspicion that they are more sketches than fully formed novels . The last one I really enjoyed without reservation was Mr Vertigo.

Well like a good band hitting a second wind, his latest is a reminder of what I love about his writing and his most fully formed novel in some time. His publishers are always trying to sell him to the mainstream, which is apparent from the blurb on the jackets. For Invisible it says "..... finds himself caught in a love triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life". If you bought the book based on this synopsis you'd be a tad disappointed to realise that this basically doesn't even cover the first third. What the jacket doesn't mention is that it is told in Auster's usual sparse . quite cold style, with often meanders down side alleys, changes in narrative structure and an ending that as usual is almost willfully vague.

Paul Auster's best books are like windows on a story with a real sense that the story doesn't begin with the start of the book or finish with the last sentence and Invisible is a great example of this. This doesn't mean that it isn't satisfying , but the satisfaction comes less from the actions of the main characters but the often conflicting motives behind these actions. This fact, the twists in style and the prose that leaves as much unsaid as said leaves you to put together your own picture and to fill in the gaps. Part of the fun is meeting someone who has also read his books and find that you have come to 2 completely different interpretations based on how you both have filled in these gaps

It is not perfect by a long way or approaching his best, there is a big confession / revelation concerning one of the remaining taboos that I'm not really sure what the point of was. Was it is only to throw more confusion on what is truth and what is interpretation or how we feel about the main character. Also, reflecting there are times when the ending frustrates and I wish for a sense of finality / conclusion , but you rarely get that with an Auster novel.

Desperate as they are for him to move to the league of Amis and McEwan , I don't think Invisible will win him any new fans (in fact a lot of the blog reviews I've read have been negative) , but despite or because of its flaws, if you loved his early work and have lost touch recently, this is the book to renew your acquaintance

I realise I've said even less about the plot than the jacket blurb I criticise, but I as with his best books the plot isn't really the point

You can buy Invisible by Paul Auster - here

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