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In the Country of Last Things [Hardcover]

Paul Auster
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 1987
A novel set in a futuristic world which chillingly shadows our own. From the author of THE INVENTION OF SOLITUDE.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Viking Pr (Mar 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670814458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670814459
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 792,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Description

About the Author

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Leap 7 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Inherent in "In the Country of Last Things" is this: "Our lives are no more than the sum of manifold contingencies, and no matter how diverse they might be in their details, they all share an essential randomness in their design." One such contingency occurs when the protagonist Anna Blume rediscovers a forgotten blue notebook accompanied by six yellow pencils. This is the catalyst for a letter that may as well be called "In the Country of Last Things." The letter comes across as an exaggerated account, an apocalyptic depiction of a city stripped of its humanity. Old laws that once held the society together have been supplanted by newer laws that will again be replaced by even more corrupt and venal ones.
Anna Blume is a girl who comes to the city in search of her brother, but, instead, finds disintegration, desperation, and hopelessness. She is really no different, only her story, from the other inhabitants of the city. In the city, everyone is searching for something or someone that has disappeared. For "nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn't waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it." The immediate and never-ending concern is hunger: hunger in the literal sense, as food like everything else in the city, is in short supply; and hunger in the abstract, wherein people crave friendship, love, connection, and a shared understanding of language and meaning. The constant struggle is not to give up or lose hope, and thereby your life.
In the "Last Things," Paul Auster fills the pages with vivid accounts of a city in ruin, on the verge of complete collapse. It is an unnamed city, therefore, one may recognize it as his own, or what one day may be his own.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the Country of Last Things 29 May 2011
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anna Blume is a young woman whose journalist brother, William, has gone missing. Being idealistic and hopeful, she travels to the City to try to find him, but soon finds that the task is near impossible. Auster stays clear of naming the City in question, but whatever has happened there is not a worldwide disaster, as Anna comes from a comfortable home and there is mention of another woman's children in the City being sent to 'England' for safety.

Armed only with the name and photograph of the man who was sent to replace William, Anna finds it is impossible to locate anyone or anything. Society has totally broken down, production has stopped, rumours about invaders prevail, the government seems to change on a regular basis and their only response to the needs of the people is to remove waste and bodies. In other words, the bare basics. Anna stumbles around, attempting to sustain herself and having little human contact at first. People scavenge, live rough, attack each other and join suicide cults. This is a bleak place indeed and Anna soon realises she has made a mistake, but is unable to leave.

However, although the City is a place of despair, Anna's story - written as a series of unsent letters to a friend - has its brightest moments in the stories of human interaction. As a portrait of a City when it has broken down, Auster's book is realistic and sobering. Whenever Anna finds somewhere she can briefly find solace, there is no guarantee she can find it again or that it will remain as a safe haven. Even the act of stumbling can be fatal and, although things may have a worth, people seem to be totally expendable. This would be a very interesting read for a book club, with lots of discussion points, and was an interesting and thought provoking read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror tale with a twist 29 May 2008
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some of the reviewers here describe In the Country of Last Things as a realistic work. I disagree. This book is an allegory and aims at nothing else. But such is the force of Auster's writing that the reader is prepared to suspend disbelief.

It is a unique characteristic of the industrial world that none of us has a complete vision of how it works, and it is easy to imagine that what we don't understand, let alone control, could suddenly cease to function; Auster plays on this basic fear to weave a morbid, often horrific tale.

The heroine, in search of her brother, finds herself trapped in a city that we recognise as having once been 20th century American, but has now become a crucible of destitution, savagery, and violent struggle for survival. This grim novella describes a society which has ceased creating or even producing, and is thus reduced to consuming what is left... until that runs out. It holds a mirror to our own compulsory consumption, waste and greed, and it forces us to consider the actual value of modern material comfort. It also lets Auster exploit on a grander scale his pet themes of decay and degradation, of homelessness and its impact on identity.

Post-modern decay apparently isn't pretty. It is a place of book burners and ghouls, of cannibals and suicidal fanatics, of pathetic attachment to the most miserable objects, and of general disregard for human life and dignity, even if hope and love aren't entirely missing. But it makes for a fascinating read, one that it is difficult to complete in anything but a single, mesmerising sitting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One way ticket to destruction and hopelessness
A faithful reader of all of Auster's books, it's this one that I felt takes one into an unspeakable inner as well as outer darkness - though not one that can still be valuable to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read of a theoretical and dark future world
This book is a page turner which has real strong imagery. The reader feels like that they are really there , in this completely unknown place and Austers' description of the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by claire ionta
5.0 out of 5 stars A travelogue of despair
This novel starts out as a travelogue. A vague sense of anticipated dread accompanies Anna during her sea voyage on board a utilitarian vessel to a city where William, her brother... Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2012 by Lester
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Auster - In The Country of Last Things
I finished this book on the train yesterday and, like all of Auster's books, I wanted to immediately turn the book over and start again. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2012 by Hayden Westfield-Bell
4.0 out of 5 stars A City that slowly devours you...
I've heard a lot of good things about Paul Auster's The New York trilogy, so when I spied this I decided to grab it. It's a short, epistolary, dystopian novel. Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2010 by L. R. Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars dark and gripping
dark and harrowing but imaginative and prescient considering it was written over 20 years ago and still is not at all out of date
Published on 7 Jan 2010 by June
4.0 out of 5 stars End of the World is Nigh
In the Country of Last Things is a stark & compelling vision of the future where a government's only real contribution to society is ensuring the corpses are swept clear from the... Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2009 by M. Khan
5.0 out of 5 stars A BOOK FOR ONE NIGHT
From the very first sentence of the book I could not stop reading. I finished the book that very night, staying awake until 04.00. Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2007 by Joan Marmag
5.0 out of 5 stars nostalgia
I read this book about 15 years ago and still have the haunting image of Auster's 'runners' playing in my mind. As a dystopian, spoilt future this is precise and believable. Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2006 by Mr. W. Deneve
4.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing account
Paul Auster’s novel offers a haunting picture of a devastated society with all its miseries and struggles for survival. Read more
Published on 19 Dec 2003 by HORAK
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