's 11th novel Oracle Night
is as intelligent and compellingly written as any he has produced. Sydney Orr is a writer recovering from an illness that almost killed him. Out on his daily constitutional he happens upon a curious stationery shop, the Paper Palace, and purchases a blue Portuguese notebook. The notebook casts a curious hold over Orr and seems to enable him to write, something he hasn't done since coming out of hospital. He writes a story about a books' editor who, on serendipitously avoiding some falling masonry, decides to read the near-accident as a reason to change his life. He takes an unread, recently discovered, manuscript of an important writer from the 1930s, Sylvia Maxwell, and disappears off to Kansas City. Reinvention and the associated idea that identity is fluid, re-imaginable, are linked, as is often the case with Auster, to the idea of chance.
So, Auster's usual themes are here: writing about writers and writing he discusses themes such as identity, disappearance, creativity, chance. But, despite what initially looks like a tricky structure (with footnotes and stories within stories) this is really a novel about love and forgiveness. Notwithstanding the dubious reputation of being a "writer's writer" the philosophical Auster has written a comparatively simple, very moving, quite brilliant novel. If the novel's ending is a little too neat, and the drama, as the narrative moves to a close, a little too soap opera, this hardly matters. --Mark Thwaite
"As Auster's many admirers know, his narrative voice is as hypnotic as that of the Ancient Mariner. Start one of his books and by page two you cannot choose but hear."--Michael Dirda, "The New York Review of Books""Compulsively readable yet wonderfully complex and unsettling. The book is both a babushka doll of stories within stories and a literary Rubik's Cube, the solution of which, if there is one, is the very nature of reality."--"The Boston Globe""Auster shines as a fabulist and tale-teller, putting a high-modernist gloss on noir."--"The New Yorker""A joy to read."--"The Economist""It's urban mysticism, a poetry of the hidden and the almost forgotten, with the supernatural power deriving equally from the city and the novelist's imagination. . . . A snow globe of a novel."--"New York" magazine""Oracle Night" is a triumph for novelist Auster. It cements his growing reputation as one of America's most inventive and original writers."--"The Seattle Times"
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