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Invisible by Paul Auster
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Nov 16, 09

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in November, 2009

Auster, Paul. INVISIBLE. (2009). *****. Auster has managed to come out with yet another book that you can’t put down because you can’t imagine what’s likely to come on the next page. Adam Walker begins to tell the story of his adventures in New York City during the year 1967. He is twenty years old and an aspiring student at Columbia. He meets a Frenchman, Rudolf Born, an instructor of Political Science at the University, and his girlfriend, Margot. Soon, Born draws Adam into a relationship with him and Margot that soon turns into a sexual relationship between Adam and Margot. To show that there are no hard feelings, Born offers Adam a job starting up a literary magazine, with enough of an investment to carry him through for one full year. While walking along Riverside Drive, Born and Adam are discussing details of the venture, when suddenly a young man appears out of the bushes with a gun in his hand and demands their money and their watches. Born pretends to comply, but suddenly pulls a knife out of his coat and stabs the young man. Adam is appalled and runs to find a phone to call an ambulance. When he comes back, neither Born nor the bandit are there. When he looks around, he finds the young man partially hidden in the bushes – dead, with about twelve stab wounds in him. Adam flees the scene. Thus begins the adventures of Adam and the world of Born. Further adventures occur that involve Born, but also involve Adam’s older sister, Gwyn, in which an intense sexual relationship between the two is described. This part of the story is narrated by James Freeman. Freeman was a classmate of Borns at school, but he receives the second chapter of the story from Born who, he learns, is on his deathbed, dying of Leukemia. Freeman shares the second chapter of this story with us. It is now 2007, but the story is still about the events in 1967. Here we learn about Adam’s trip to Paris where he intends to spend a year on a study program. It turns out that this is where Born and Margot had fled to and the relationship is again picked up. Born has a hypnotic relationship on Adam, which he cannot seem to resist. Two more chapters ensue; one narrated by Freeman and one by a young Parisian girl who provides her diaries to help end the story. We then have the rug pulled out from beneath us when we are led to doubt the veracity of Adam and, in fact, the very existence of any of the characters. It is a novel that turns back on itself, as if reflected in a mirror – a funhouse mirror at that. Highly recommended.
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Icon2 "We then have the rug pulled out from beneath us when we are led to doubt the veracity of Adam and, in fact, the very existence of any of the characters"
Absolutely that is what i came to at the end of the first reading the book, i read it again looking for clues from the writer's mention of De Born the Troubadour of 12th century,
and Dante too, pg 110 Dante's ingenious punishment was to divide de Born from himself.... a clue that Adam, Jim and Rudolf Born were all the different parts of one person.
Born mentioning to Adam that Adam would one day end up writing Born's biography and that is we find in the end Born asking Cecile to co author his biography. then i read it several times , enjoying it like i would a game. a brilliant book/ story...


Tony I really enjoy reading Auster. You never know what you're going to get, and, when you get it, you're not sure what it is! I've inadvertently become an Auster collector. I still think "The New York Trilogy" is his best work. Thanks for the comment.


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