Invisible by Paul Auster – A Book Review

Invisible spoke to me more potently than many of Auster’s other recent works.

Don’t misunderstand, Auster again explored themes of identity, chance, and reality, but this novella in particular struck me as being far more concerned with character.  Moreover, though the story jumped around in time and made use of several perspectives, it was one of his more linear stories in quite some time—that is, it definitely had a clear beginning, middle, and end.

I also appreciated the format in which he chose to deliver the story.  Auster is always one to experiment with narrative technique, and Invisible’s endeavor succeeded.  Sometimes such fiddling can distract the reader, but not with Invisible.  The shifts felt organic and added to the overall story, making it far more interesting than had it been written conventionally.

Perhaps the most electrifying aspect of Invisible was the pure mystery involved.  I don’t want to go into detail for fear of spoiling any plot points, but Auster did a magnificent job of providing enough evidence to make you scratch your head and question your allegiances.

The only complaint I have—albeit a minor one—is that the book ended rather abruptly, even by Auster’s standards.  It had to conclude somehow, I suppose, and it’s always better to leave the reader wanting more, but I think a very interesting discussion could ensue analyzing why Auster chose to end the book with the specific scene he did.  I was also surprised by the sexual explicitness in this work.  I’ve never read anything quite so sexually descriptive from Auster, but the scenes ended up playing a very important role in the question of character and were absolutely warranted.  He even added a line about writers having to be willing to make themselves uncomfortable if they wanted to be any good, and I wonder if that was a nod to the gratuitousness.

All in all, if you’re an Auster fan, I think you’ll find this outing enjoyable and challenging.  If you’ve never read Auster before, you have to accept him as a writer who demands much from his readers and offers few answers in return.  However, he is a superb writer and he will make you think, which is unusual in today’s books.

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2 thoughts on “Invisible by Paul Auster – A Book Review

  1. pablochiste says:

    Fantastic review! Although I think Auster always has very graphic sexual writing in his works and unfortunately it’s what he does worst. Here are my thoughts on Invisible
    http://pablochiste.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/what-is-left-unseen-invisible-by-paul-auster/

  2. Good review.
    I’m interested in sex scenes in novels, as I generally can’t stand them – broadly speaking, the actual description of them adds nothing to plot, character, themes etc. And it’s easy to label them as soft-porn under the guise of literary eroticism.
    Some writers, though (Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks, Iain Banks) do manage to contrive sex scenes which, in themselves, are significant.
    sorry..rambling on a bit now…oops.
    I like your blog.

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