From Publishers Weekly
Auster (Invisible) is in excellent form for this foray into the tarnished, conflicted soul of Brooklyn. New York native Miles Heller now cleans out foreclosed south Florida homes, but after falling in love with an underage girl and stirring the wrath of her older sister, he flees to Brooklyn and shacks up with a group of artists squatting in the borough's Sunset Park neighborhood. As Miles arrives at the squat, the narrative broadens to take in the lives of Miles's roommates--among them Bing, "the champion of discontent," and Alice, a starving writer--and the unlikely paths that lead them to their squat. Then there's the matter of Miles's estranged father, Morris, who, in trying to save both his marriage and the independent publishing outfit he runs, may find the opportunity to patch things up with Miles. The fractured narrative takes in an impressive swath of life and history--Vietnam, baseball trivia, the WWII coming-home film The Best Years of Our Lives--and even if a couple of the perspectives feel weak, Auster's newest is a gratifying departure from the postmodern trickery he's known for, one full of crisp turns of phrase and keen insights.
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*Starred Review* Passionately literary, Auster nonetheless publishes as frequently as a genre author, writing poetic and brainy feigned procedurals featuring inadvertent outlaws. In his sixteenth novel, four flat-broke twentysomething searchers end up squatting in a funky abandoned house in Sunset Park, a rough Brooklyn neighborhood. Bing, the “sloppy bear” ringleader, plays drums and runs the Hospital for Broken Things, where he mends “relics” from a thriftier past. Melancholy artist Ellen is beset by erotic visions. Grad student Alice is researching pop-culture depictions of postwar sexual relationships. Miles is a fugitive. Poisoned by guilt over his stepbrother's death, he hasn't communicated with his loving father, a heroic independent publisher; his kind English professor stepmother; or his flamboyant actor mother for seven years. Lately he's been in Florida, “trashing out” foreclosed homes, stunned by what evicted people leave behind in anger and despair. Miles returns to New York after things turn dicey over his love affair with a wise-beyond-her-years Cuban American teenager. As always with the entrancing and ambushing Auster, every element is saturated with implication as each wounded, questing character's story illuminates our tragic flaws and profound need for connection, coherence, and beauty. In a time of daunting crises and change, Auster reminds us of lasting things, of love, art, and “the miraculous strangeness of being alive.” --Donna Seaman
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