From Publishers Weekly
Auster, a man of diverse creative achievements, defies convenient labels with regard to genre and the divisions between literary fiction and the mainstream popular marketplace. Given his experiences with such multimedia endeavors as National Public Radio's Story Project, it's not surprising that Auster has a flair for dramatic narration when performing his own work. As he gives voice to ailing retired book critic August Brill, Auster milks the story-within-a-story structure to full effect. Impatient listeners may wonder exactly where this disparate tale of revisionist history, war, marital disappointments and grief might be headed. But with the nuanced—yet palpable—use of inflection, Auster compels his audience to await the twists and turns. As an invalid with an active imagination and time on his hands, Brill makes his frailties tangible and emotionally compelling without descending into full-blown pathos. A Henry Holt hardcover (Reviews, May 26). (Aug.)
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A car accident and the death of his wife have left the retired book critic August Brill a physical and spiritual invalid. Virtually confined to his house with his recently divorced daughter and a twenty-three-year-old grandchild stricken with grief after the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Brill, an insomniac, attempts to stave off thoughts of death by telling himself bedtime stories. His tired mind weaves a tale that combines details of his life with more fantastic flights'such as the story of a man who, waking up in an alternate universe where 9/11 never happened and the 2000 election led to civil war, is sent on a mission to destroy the very person who has imagined him into existence. The narrative juxtapositions and the riddling starkness of Auster's prose create an absorbing if mildly scattershot effect, breathing life into a meditation on the difference between the stories we want to tell and the stories we end up telling.
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