The title of Paul Auster’s new book, “Invisible,” is not about a character that can’t be seen, but rather about the moments in a life that fly under the radar.
“Things can be going on right before you without you ever noticing,” the author of mysterious books as “The New York Trilogy,” “The Moon Palace” and “The Book of Illusions” said in a question-and-answer session at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO last week. “You never know that if what people say happened really happened.”
Like many of the Park Slope author’s works, “Invisible” steals the format of a detective novel, then violently shakes it apart.
Adam Walker, its protagonist, is seen only through strained angles: a draft of his memoir about events of the year 1967 when he studied at Columbia and in Paris; or recollections of friends whose memories shine spotlights on parts of his life.
There’s love, murder and incest, but in the patchwork of contradictions that Auster constructs, there’s no room for a tidy resolution. One leaves the novel feeling that Walker’s life — like many — is one mystery stacked on another, a giant, thick uncertainty.
It’s one reason why Auster chose to write some sections in the second person — a first for him.
“It’s a very propulsive thing to do,” he said. “You is I and he and occupies a billion in-betweens. It could be almost anyone.” The book’s narrative reflects not only Auster’s distant past — his 40th reunion at Columbia inspired him to write the book — but his experience over the years since then.
This is Auster’s 14 book, and he believes that he’s gotten better with age.
“When you’re a kid, you don’t know what you’re doing — and when you write, you feel as though you’re falling into a great pit of incompetence and ambition,” he said. “You flail around. It takes years to get comfortable with the act of writing.
“When you have the pen in your hands characters and ideas just come to you, but to write something clear takes great effort,” he added. Paul Auster’s “Invisible” ($25) is available at Powerhouse Books [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (212) 604-9074] and BookCourt [163 Court St. between Dean and Pacific streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 875-3677].
©2009 Community News Group
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