dimanche 8 avril 2012

Invisible by Paul Auster (2009)

Clancy Martin writes in The New York Times that unlike Auster's last few books where "ïrony vacuums out the content" Invisible is a "crisp, elegant, brisk(ly)" written bildungsroman based on an incestuous love affair which is the key to the protagonist's personality. Clancy Martin is happy to reread it.

James Urquhart, critic for The Independent, is not. Above all, Urquhart is not convinced by Auster's use of all three narrative forms, describing it as "deliberately congested authorship" which yields a "confusing", "rather wearying" narrative style.

Edward Docx, reviewer for The Observer and himself a novelist, applauds Auster's novels generally, but pans this one. Apart from the sins of "precociousness" and endless "cultural citations", the novel evades the heart of the project: to perform the "nightmarishly difficult task of actually writing about character, rendering a scene vividly, describing incest."

My own response? I enjoyed and even welcomed the cultural references, including the mention of Perec, the exotic addresses in Paris, the names of foods - "croissants, brioches and tartines beurrées". The narrative successfully unites form and content such as in the last few pages of section three, written by Jim, which offer a condensation of events, stripped of detail because the protagonist is dying and can only muster a few scant notes. What pathos there is in the last sentence of that section: "They are all ghosts now, and W. will soon be walking among them." I'm with Clancy Martin here: Invisible "has the illusion of effortlessness... it is such a pleasure to read."

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