Sunday, March 29, 2015

Invisible by Paul Auster

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 28

Here’s my book review of Invisible by Paul Auster.

First off, there are many books with the title Invisible. Make sure you get the right one. Paul Auster writes fascinating literary novels, which are often baffling. This book presents three interwoven versions of the same story as told by three different narrators.

Main character Adam Walker is a young poet in New York. Soon after graduation he meets a worldly couple at a party – Frenchman Rudolph Born and his mistress Margot. Born is an international man of mystery, an unscrupulous character who may be con-man or spy or both. Margot is a seductress. Born helps Walker hook up with Margot, and the first plot complication is a love triangle.

Born pulls Walker into a publishing venture, and then – out of the blue – he murders a man in front of him on the street. He intimidates Walker into helping him cover it up.

Walker is now carrying a burden of guilt that will haunt him forever. When he thinks Born and Margot are out of his life, Walker has a love affair with his own sister. More guilt.

Walker tries to make sense of it all by writing an autobiographical novel. When circumstances prevent him from completing it, he challenges his friend Jim, who is also a writer, to finish the story. Jim then narrates the next part of the book, describing what he’s been able to discover about Walker’s past.

In a third narrative, a French woman named Cécile narrates. She was a minor character earlier in the story, but now she’s center stage. She met Walker by way of Born. She was in love with Walker and tormented by Born. Near the end of the book, she meets up with Born, and he tries to pull her into yet another of his traps.

The book ends on a final scene which seems to have no connection to Walker’s story. Like his protagonist Walker, Auster is a poet. It’s up to the reader to find meaning in this concluding image. This plot is complex and not easily understood. But Invisible isn’t a pulp-fiction whodunit. In the end, you probably don’t have all the facts, and the facts you do have, may not even be true.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. I’m the author of the humorous novel Mr. Ballpoint. And you can catch these podcasts at BoychikLit.com.

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