Invisible (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
In fourteen novels as well as collected poems and essays, Paul Auster has aspired to give artistic form to meditations on personal identity and the art that might embody them. He is a virtuoso of metafiction, often organized as stories-within-stories that reflect upon themselves and one another. In his fifteenth novel, Invisible, Auster has fashioned a consummate instrument of existential mystery and literary reflexivity. In four bravura sections, the novel ponders the fate of Adam Walker, a student at Columbia University whose life is transformed by Rudolf Born, a charismatic but enigmatic professor from France.
An aspiring poet, Walker meets Born at a party in 1967, and the sophisticated stranger soon offers to finance a literary magazine that Walker would edit. Before departing for a brief return to Europe, Born also appears to encourage the young man to take his place in bed beside his lover, Margot Jouffroy. Walker is disturbed by Born’s nihilistic celebration of violence. Human beings were animals, he said, and soft-minded aesthetes like myself were no better than children, diverting ourselves with hairsplitting philosophies of art and literature to avoid confronting the essential truth of the world.
That essential truth, according to Born, is “the darkness inside us.” When Born stabs and apparently kills Cedric Williams, a mugger who accosts them one evening, Walker is appalled and breaks with his would-be mentor....
(The entire section is 1690 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 22 (August 1, 2009): 8.
The Boston Globe, November 1, 2009, p. 6.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 15 (August 1, 2009): 12.
Library Journal 134, no. 16 (October 1, 2009): 68.
Los Angeles Times, November 22, 2009, p. E6.
New Statesman 138, no. 4974 (November 9, 2009): 52-54.
The New York Times Book Review, November 15, 2009, p. 20.
The New Yorker, November 30, 2009, p. 82.
The Observer, November 29, 2009, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 33 (August 17, 2009): 39.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 8, 2009, p. E5.
The Times Literary Supplement, November 6, 2009, p. 19.
(The entire section is 60 words.)