Once upon a time, about ten or more years ago, Paul Auster was one of my favourite authors. I eagerly devoured all his books that I could get my hands on. But during the last few years I've been sorely let down with his newer novels, each one more disappointing than the last till I finally stopped reading his books altogether. However, when I recently read the description for his latest, Invisible, I was interested to give it a shot. It sounded like a classic Auster novel but with a new twist. I thought maybe, just maybe, he was back in form.
Invisible is set in New York City in 1967. Twenty-year-old Adam Walker, a student at Columbia University meets a charming yet dangerous Frenchman, Rudolf Born and his quiet and attractive girlfriend, Margot. Walker is soon caught in their sinister web leading to an act of violence that changes his life forever. Doesn't it sound like vintage Auster? I was intrigued and it does deal with the themes Auster constantly explores in all his books namely coincidence, the role of chance in our lives, identity and memory.
It's not a bad book but because I'm familiar with his work, I would say this isn't one of his best. Don't get me wrong, I still admire him and think he's one of the best contemporary American authors. Funnily enough he's more known in Europe than in his native country. They love him in Spain where he's been awarded the highest award for literature, the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His daughter Sophie Auster is a famous singer in France and is now the model for the Spanish fashion label Mango. In press releases and magazine articles, they never fail to mention that she's Paul Auster's daughter. I do think he doesn't get the recognition he deserves in the United States.
The writer Siri Hustveldt (Auster's wife) with daughter Sophie and Paul.
I think about the past, the old days, that long-ago year(1967) when so much happened to me, happened in me and around me, the unexpected turns and discoveries of that year, the madness of that year, which pushed me toward the life i wound up living, both for good and bad. (page 87)
I loved delving back into Auster's writing style which is really one of a kind. So unique and pitch-perfect that it's almost like music, it just pulls you in. I'm sure if this was my first Auster I would have probably been quite impressed. It's very obvious that he has a brilliant mind. Like all his protagonists, Auster is an intellectual and he's very cultured. He is knowledgeable about different subject matters such as politics, film, poetry, art, books and languages. He'd make a wonderful dinner guest. But I digress....Invisible had some disturbing elements. Incest plays a big part in the book and in fact there are graphic sex scenes between Walker and his sister. I thought it was unnecessary to the main story and actually very distasteful. I'm not really sure why Auster put that in. In spite of that, the book was still very readable and engaging. I think it's probably his best work in years. He's definitely back in form. However, I still wouldn't recommend this book if you're an Auster novice. Try Leviathan (my favourite) or The New York Trilogy first.