Thursday, 4 February 2010

"Invisible" by Paul Auster

A very good review here by Evening All Afternoon of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy prompts me finally to write about Invisible, which I have had in my TBR pile for quite some time.

Some of those who have read the Trilogy might have been left wondering, like me, if it was actually intended as a real novel at all, rather than just an exercise for a creative writing class. Am I alone in finding that all the obsessive behaviour and constantly shifting (and often uncertain) identities get in the way of the story, which is any event pretty thin? Having bought it as a result of all the hype which surrounded it, I ended up being dreadfully disappointed.

If so, relax, for Invisible is a different animal entirely. Yes, it is told by various narrators from various different viewpoints, and moves between the past and the present, but on this occasion it all works, and the reader feels challenged but never downright bewildered.

Auster uses the device of an author struggling to finish a book, and enlisting the help of a third party in order to do so. Death, natural and otherwise, a detective style investigation, and sex make up the mix. It is difficult to say much more about the plot without spoiling the ending.

In fairness I should point out that I have never read any of Auster's other books (which many admire and respect), but on the evidence of the Trilogy, which frankly I did not enjoy, Invisible came as a very pleasant surprise. It is well written and well crafted, each of the three main characters coming across with their own voice. I would happily recommend this book to anyone.

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