Mr. Vertigo
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Mr. Vertigo

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  6,245 ratings  ·  248 reviews
Walt is an orphan from the Mid-West who meets the dark and mesmerising figure of Master Yehudi. The Master takes little Walt to a mysterious house on the great plains where begins a tutorial process that will teach Walt to fly.
Paperback, 278 pages
Published 1994 by Faber and Faber Limited
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I read this book for class. No, I'm not going to follow that with an 'and thus I hated it', so if that's your type of thing, shoo. I won't deny that some of those mandated readings during those readers of yore were a total slog, but that was more if not wholly due to extenuating circumstances of teaching style/my young self than the novel itself. Now that I'm older and have an almost obsessively vested interest in literature, I can look at these classroom assignments in book form and say, hm. Th...more
'I was twelve years old the first time I walked on water. The man in the black clothes taught me how to do it, and I'm not going to pretend I learned that trick overnight.

Mr. Vertigo is the story of Walter Rawley, who recounts how at the age of nine he made a pact with the man who promised to teach him how to fly. Master Yehudi spotted young Walt on the streets of Saint Louis, sweeping the foul-mouthed and lonely kid off the ground with his promise. Yehudi swears that if he fails to teach Walt h...more
"Tinha doze anos quando caminhei sobre as águas pela primeira vez."
Assim começa a história fabulosa de Walt.

"É assim que se faz. O vazio dentro do nosso corpo torna-se mais leve do que o ar à nossa volta. A pouco e pouco, começamos a pesar menos do que nada. Fechamos os olhos; estendemos os braços; deixamo-nos evaporar. E então, a pouco e pouco erguemo-nos do chão.

Assim termina a história do Rapaz Prodígio.

Walt é um homem de meia idade, que nos conta a sua vida desde os nove anos. Com o a...more
Há quem diga que está aquém do habitual deste autor...Não sei, pois não tenho termos de comparação com outras de suas obras. Quero referir que é um dos tais livros que me "agarraram".
Paul Auster possui uma prosa indiscutivelmente bela, lógica e cheia de imaginação.
Narrada numa 1ª pessoa, agora já idosa, de nome Walter Rawley, a história desfia a sua vida desde os 9 anos, por meio de analepses. As restantes personagens vão tecendo as partes de um todo harmonioso,distribuindo-se entre uma realida...more
Reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about a very different author, Paul Coelho, who wrote a very similar kind of novel, The Alchemist. Both of them are more a parable than a book, a motivational speaking seminar designed to make you wake up and realize the miracles that you (yes YOU) could make happen if you only dared to believe they were possible.

In Mr. Vertigo, the feat is flying, in the Alchemist it's "becoming the wind" or something of the sort. Mr. Vertigo's telling is more nuance...more
I wish I could suit myself with simply writing, "The man is a genius," and letting my review at that, because that is what Paul Auster is absolutely deserving of. 1994's Mr. Vertigo is nothing short of astounding in its breadth and vision, encompassing a nation's loss of wonderment and innocence in the story of a poor boy from St. Louis who learns to fly.

Walt is a Holden Caufield of another era--a down and out, harsh little man in a boy's body, trying to keep a step ahead of the game he's convin...more
Lorenzo Berardi
When I was a young dumb teenager unaware of the complexity of the whole world, one of the hit songs I use to listen again and again and once more on a self recorded tape was "I wish I could fly" by Roxette.

Have you noticed that "When I was a young dumb etc." at the beginning of the sentence? Please do it.

This novel speaks about flying. This novel speaks about the hard training that a depaupered American child have to do to become a new kind of Barnum phenomenon at the service of a w...more
Having discovered and fallen in love with Auster's writing earlier this year, I have by now read most of his books. I liked them all very much and gave them all top ratings, but this book has really knocked it out of the ballpark. There is an epic quality to this story, a tale of a life that varies from strange to ordinary to strange and spans about eight decades. There are larger than life characters with grandness and pizazz and amazing supporting characters with so much kindness and love stor...more
Paul Auster almost always delivers a provocative mind-bending story. Mr. Vertigo is no exception – the story of a young boy, living on the streets in the 1920s, who is taken in by Master Yehudi, a mysterious older man who promise he will teach the boy to fly.

After a grueling series of physical tests and challenges, some of which almost kill the boy, the promise is realized. Walt the Wonder Boy is born – a 10 year old who can levitate and move through the air performing acrobatic tricks.

Master Y...more
I'm not sure how I feel about this book yet so I hope that writing a review will help. From what I can tell there are two things going on. First, it's a story about a boy who learns how to fly. Meet Walter: a begging, thieving, loudmouth little rascal. Austere uses Walter to narrate his story, constructing his story as a fictional memoir . What makes the book interesting is what makes Walter interesting -- that he can fly. Flight becomes Walter's passion and purpose in life -- the story chronicl...more
This could sound snobby and euphemistic, but I don't mean it that way at all--this is an extremely readable book. It's fairly short (compared to some of the stuff I've read in the past year or so, anyway) at less than 300 pages, and it moves pretty quickly. I think Auster does a very good job of creating this rich, convincing persona of the narrator, Walt--he's often but not always likable, he's imperfect and he knows it, he's got this fun early 20th-century vernacular. My only real complaint is...more
Once again if it had not been for the 1001 list this is a book that I would never have read and that it would have been a shame. To be brutally frank I had never previously heard of Paul Auster let alone Mr Vertigo.

Initially it took me a little while to get into this book and I also found it a little hard to particularily like any of the main characters but as I got further into the book the more it and they grabbed me, so much so that I found it a little hard to put down at the end. The fact th...more
The reason why I picked up this book, why I was determined to finish it despite me being in a bad phase which wouldn't let me concentrate enough to finish this relatively short book, is because I believed the idea, I innocently believed that this is what I needed to finally fulfill the dream for that stubborn kid in me, I was going to learn how to fly. At last.
I patiently and proudly saw Walt transforming into a young decent man, my heart was with him, encouraging, as he went through the pain to...more
Nov 05, 2010 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever dreamed of flying
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Another excellent Auster book. Generally quite happy-go-lucky in tone but with a few major shocks along the way. Walt the Wonder Kid is a likeable character but I have to say I prefered the first half of his life story to the later parts. Maybe this is one of those books which should have finished a bit sooner than it actually did. Less is more and all that.
Weldon Miller
I didn't love this book. It has some fun points and some interesting points in the book, but I thought the book kind of sagged in the middle with little happening. Then, the final 2-3 chapters rush through about 60 years of the narrator's life. The rush makes for some huge contrivances to move things along. I give it 2 out of 5 stars as a generous rating.
Fantastic. I read this in one sitting. Auster writes a fable of America's growth in the 20th century without losing sight of giving us a good story. By the end, I wished it would keep on going.
Agnes Mack
When people find out that I have a ridiculous hard-on for Roth, Updike and Bellow, inevitably they recommend one of two authors – Jonathan Lethem or Paul Auster.

I finally got around to giving Auster a shot and I have to say that Mr. Vertigo didn't do it for me. I can certainly recognize why people would enjoy this book – the plot is interesting and there are many twists and turns that kept me interested. However, the book was very plot heavy and way too light on character development for my tas...more
An episodic story, "told" in strong narrative about the life and times of Walt the Wonder Kid, a.k.a. Mr. Vertigo, the boy who could walk on air.

Walt, a young castaway, befriends the Master Yehudi who puts him through 33 trials of endurance - some pretty gruesome, like being buried alive for 24 hours - before Walt ultimately collapses in utter hopelessness, only to find his body rise above the floor and commence his startling career as a circus and stage performer, mobster, night club owner, wa...more
Glenn Hinkley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carlos Bennett
Mr Vertigo cuenta la historia de la vida de Walter Clairebone Rawley, un huérfano en los Estados Unidos en la época de la Gran Depresión, desde que un hombre misterioso que se hace llamar el Maestro Yehudi lo rescata de las calles con la promesa de enseñarle a volar. El libro narra la vida de Walter: desde el extraño y duro entrenamiento con el Maestro Yehudi, pasando por el momento en que aprende a volar, hasta la serie de catastrofes que sacuden su vida, la pérdida de la capacidad de volar y s...more
I first read Mr Vertigo in the nineties, but picking it up again recently and reading the first page I was totally hooked. (Coincidentally Man on Wire was on TV the other day and they are almost the same stories told in different mediums.) Mr Vertigo has one of the best opening lines ever: ‘I was twelve years old the first time I walked on water. The man in the black clothes taught me how to do it and I’m not going to pretend I learned the trick overnight…’

It is the story of Walter Rawley ‘Walt...more
The last two Paul Auster books I read, Timbuktu and Travels in the Scriptorium, were so bad that I almost gave up hope of his books being great. But Mr. Vertigo was pretty amazing. It's one of the few Auster novels where everything wraps up in the end; he leaves no unanswered questions, which it's kind of his style to do. I always wondered if he was even capable of writing a novel that actually comes together in the end, but now that I know that he can, it's clear that all of the novels that he...more
Only two stars. It starts out OK and the trials Walt has to endure are convincing enough but after the first success of his flying act the novel becomes rather repetitive. Taking the old having to be up very high in order to fall hard. Or something. It didn't work for me much at all, too much of the same. Granted, the careers chosen were all different but they all went along the same trajectory. I was put off even more by the novel after the death of Master Yehudi who, for me, made the book more...more
Agnes Fontana
J'avais une petite prévention à lire Paul Auster, me disant que c'était sans doute un "grand auteur" qu'il était convenu d'apprécier pour faire "je connais la littérature américaine"... quelle erreur !! M.Vertigo est un livre d'une originalité folle, dont l'acriture ne ressemble à aucune autre. Un petit orphelin déjà semi délinquant est recueilli par Maître Yehudi, un Juif à la fois surnaturel et pathétique qui a décelé ses dons et va lui apprendre à voler, non sans le faire passer par toutes so...more
A pesar de ser un libro totalmente diferente a lo que he leído de este autor no deja de ser magnifico. Al comenzarlo podrías caer en el error de pensar "tal parece que es un libro fácil" pero no es así, aunque la manera en la que se desarrolla el relato considero es distinta a lo que Auster me tenía acostumbrada.
El personaje principal al ser un niño me emocionó, la historia es muy buena, y aunque la última parte del libro la sentí muy apresurada me encantó leer un poco al Auster que suele ser y...more
Katie Grainger
Mr Vertigo is quite different from the other Paul Auster novels that I have read. It follows the story of Walt Rawley a down and out orphan who is taught to fly by the mysterious Master Yehudi. The both follows an autobiographical format as Walt takes us through his early days with his new makeshift family, the days on the road as Walt the Wonderboy and then his later years.

The novel is full of highs and lows for Walt and has some genuinely touching moments. The novel has great characterisation...more
I'm a big fan of Paul Auster. Even when his novels aren't completely flawless, there is so much to take from them that they make for wholly worthwhile reading. Mr. Vertigo is no exception to this and Auster takes us on quite an adventure of a ragamuffin boy being taken in and tested so that he might fly for the world and cause wonder amongst all who behold him. There's a sense of magic here and with that, of course, is always suspension of disbelief, but there is also a sense of a lifetime portr...more
Monica Aranda
Wouldn't make into to my top 20 but it's quite enjoyable.
Funny enough, it feels like kind of having experienced something similar yourself, just in an exaggerated to the extent of caricature way. Like in the boy walking on water and you more or less thinking "I know!, right?!".
(view spoiler)...more
Another great book from Auster although I think I liked The Music of Chance a little bit more. I found the way the Master treated Walt at the beginning uncomfortable to read, and I am pleased this was questioned later in the book. An unusual topic as always but a great page turner, just the thing to be reading whilst I waited for my husband in the hospital having a knee operation
the one Auster novel I cannot recommend. Left me completely cold. None of the wild coincidence, nerve-wracking tension or characters-trapped-in-the-story feel of all his other work. A weird one.
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Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Ac...more
More about Paul Auster...
The New York Trilogy The Brooklyn Follies The Book of Illusions Moon Palace Invisible

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“Deep down, I don’t believe it takes any special talent for a person to lift himself off the ground and hover in the air. We all have it in us—every man, woman, and child—and with enough hard work and concentration, every human being is capable of…the feat….You must learn to stop being yourself. That’s where it begins, and everything else follows from that. You must let yourself evaporate. Let your muscles go limp, breathe until you feel your soul pouring out of you, and then shut your eyes. That’s how it’s done. The emptiness inside your body grows lighter than the air around you. Little by little, you begin to weigh less than nothing. You shut your eyes; you spread your arms; you let yourself evaporate. And then, little by little, you lift yourself off the ground.
Like so.”
“If your only motive is to be loved, to ingratiate yourself with the crowd, you're bound to fall into bad habits, and eventually the public will grow tired of you. You have to keep testing yourself, pushing yourself as hard as you can. You do it for yourself, but in the end it's this struggle to do better that endears you to your fans.” 4 likes
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