What is a summary of Paul Auster's Mr. Vertigo?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Paul Auster's Mr Vertigo is a postmodernist novel first published in 1994. The protagonist of the novel is Walter Claireborne Rawley, usually called "Walt," a nine-year old orphan living in St. Louis, Missouri with his aunt and Uncle Slim. In 1924, Walt encounters Master Yehudi, a Hungarian Jewish businessman who emigrated to America.

Walt goes to live with Master Yehudi in a farmhouse in Kansas, with Aesop, an Ethiopian boy also being cared for by Master Yehudi, and Mother Sioux, a grandniece of Sitting Bull. At the farmhouse, Walt slowly learns the arduous 33 steps of flight leading to his mastering the "art of loft and levitation." Aesop and Mother Sioux are killed by the Ku Klux Klan and the farmhouse burned down.

Master Yehudi and Walt move in with Mrs. Witherspoon and begin to give public performances. The evil Uncle Slim kidnaps Walt to obtain the money he has made from performing, and Walt escapes. Walt reaches puberty and can no longer perform as a levitator. As Walt and Master Yehudi head to Hollywood, they are attacked by Slim and Yehudi dies.

Walt searches for his Uncle Slim, who has become a drug dealer in Chicago, finds him, kills him, and takes a job dealing drugs and eventually running the nightclub Mr. Vertigo. 

Walt gets a regular job and marries Molly Fitzsimmons, who eventually dies of cancer. Then Walt is reunited with Mrs. Witherspoon, lives with her, and after she dies, starts writing the book we are reading. 


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