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Invisible (Rough Cut) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 27, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest, Auster is in classic form, perhaps too perfectly satisfying the contention of his wearied protagonist: there is far more poetry in the world than justice. Adam Walker, a poetry student at Columbia in the spring of 1967, is Auster's latest everyman, revealed in four parts through the diary entries of a onetime admirer, the confessions of his once-close friend, the denials of his sister and Walker's own self-made frame. With crisp, taut prose, Auster pushes the tension and his characters' peculiar self-awareness to their limits, giving Walker a fractured, knowing quality that doesn't always hold. The best moments from Walker's disparate, disturbing coming-of-age come in lush passages detailing Walker's conflicted, incestuous love life (paramount to his education as a human being, but a violation of his self-made promise to live as an ethical human being). As the plot moves toward a Heart of Darkness–style journey into madness, the limits of Auster's formalism become more apparent, but this study of a young poet doomed to life as a manifestation of poetry carries startling weight. (Nov.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Invisible contains many of the hallmarks of Auster's trade: formal literary devices and stylistic high jinks, psychological depth, elegant prose, and the manipulation of information, voices, and stories. Told against the background of 40 years of history, with shame and colonial guilt ever present, Invisible feels "warmer and more human than the stuff he's famous for" (San Francisco Chronicle) as well as less contrived and more hopeful. Indeed, notes the New York Times Book Review, it's "a love story, or a series of intertwined love stories," with Walker at the core. A few critics thought that Auster's technique overwhelms the story, and one thought the characters uninteresting. But most agreed that Invisible is Auster's finest—and perhaps most accessible—novel to date.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805090800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805090802
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Paul Auster may have a reputation as a "writer's writer" --- one whose technical expertise and mastery of his craft is viewed with alternating envy, inspiration and despair by less skilled writers. But he also knows how to tell a darn good story as he has demonstrated time and again in novels such as CITY OF GLASS, ORACLE NIGHT and MAN IN THE DARK. In his 15th work of fiction, INVISIBLE, Auster dazzlingly displays both his technical and storytelling talents in a mature novel that skillfully brings together many of the themes of his life's work.

In many ways, what is important in INVISIBLE is not so much the story itself but how it is told. The novel is divided into four parts with three different narrators, who write in three different voices (the first, second and third person points of view). The issue of narrative voice --- how and why writers choose to tell a story in that particular voice --- is at the heart of the novel: "By writing about myself in the first person, I had smothered myself and made myself invisible, had made it impossible for me to find the thing I was looking for. I needed to separate myself from myself..." So maybe the claims of Auster being a writer's writer is true after all, but he is also one who can get readers thinking about how the way stories are told influences the way we read them.

The central figure of the novel --- and the primary narrator of the first two sections --- is Adam Walker, an aspiring poet who is in his second year at Columbia University in 1967, the year in which the story opens and from which everything else sprouts. A chance encounter at a party draws Walker in to the gravitational orbit of beguiling Frenchman Rudolf Born and his alluring companion, Margot.
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Format: Hardcover
I love The New York Trilogy and keep reading Paul Auster because of that, even though no other work of his reaches that level for me. In the same way, I read all of Heller after Catch 22 and much of Mailer after Naked and the Dead. In those cases as well, I was disappointed more often than not. It may be that other works of those authors suffered by comparison to their more iconic efforts. If it had not followed Catch 22, Heller's Something Happened may have received more measured response from critics and readers. For Mailer, Executioner's Song may have been recognized as his masterpiece, had his novel of war not been written

Considering all of this, while reading Invisible, I tried to put aside the expectations I have that are a product of my familiarity with The New York Trilogy. As a result, I think that I enjoyed it more than many recent offerings by Auster. Invisible seems, on the surface, to be a straightforward story about Adam Walker's need to make up for what he perceives to have been an act of personal cowardice early in his life. But it is also an arresting analysis of the way in which people manipulate truth to create a personal narrative to meet emotional needs. In the end, the reader must decide which character's memories are truer, which are fashioned to convince the self and which are lies to deceive others. The title of the book and the final paragraphs require some working out by the reader as well.

In describing himself, main character Adam Walker quotes Ecclesiastes: "And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly." It seems an unequal trade. His achievement of wisdom is suspect; his loss of passion is not. As usual, Auster's world can be bleak, ambivalent, unjust and more familiar than the reader would like to admit.
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Format: Hardcover
I was in my freshman year of college when I read Paul Auster's masterpiece, "The New York Trilogy" in three slender white Penguin paperbacks (this was before it was available in a single volume) that seemed to contain an entire world or mind. I was shocked by the prose, clean like a boiled skeleton, barren of all fat or connective tissue, and perfectly transparent, intrigued by the elegance of the structure in which the narrator of the third book turned out to be the author of the first two, and awed by the genre-transformative magic trick that turned a detective mystery's search for an unknown into an exploration of the unknowable not via interpolated passages of philosophical discourse (a la European writers like Kundera) but through the (vigorously American was my impression at the time) twists and turns of the plot.

In the decades since, those twists and turns have become Auster's signature, dutifully interpolated into novel after novel, they turned familiar, then generic, and ultimately became his shtick. Meanwhile, he became too self-conscious of his Americanness (perhaps by reading flattering European reviews) and that aspect of his oeuvre turned into kitsch. The nadir was "Timbuktu", a charmless "Marley and Me" as written by a Vassar freshman. The follow-ups were not much of an improvement, though I can't vouch for the last two: I couldn't read them.

The Kirkus review above, heralding a return to form, compelled me to read "Invisible." I'm glad I did, though I wasn't sure at first. The opening chapter (of four) I found thin, labored and plodding. The second was compelling, but sensationalist: it felt like Auster was pushing buttons to keep my attention. But things did pick up.
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