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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 9 November 2007
This is the second novel I have read by Mr Paul Auster, and it will certainly not be the last. MR VERTIGO is a fabulous adventure story that shook me by the scruff of the neck and invaded my dreams.

It is one of those books that one is loathe to put down, as the story has definite narcotic qualities. I suffer from insomnia, but found it bearable as I was reading MR VERTIGO, as I could simply leap out of bed and continue to consume this marvellous tale!

And what a tale it is - a tale about childhood, lessons learned, endlessly dreaming and achieving those dreams, maturity, love and loss, folly and redemption. Hell, I'm waffling - It is a book about being ALIVE.

On finishing the book, I felt elated and satisfied but was already starting to miss these larger-than-life, highly colourful characters: Walt the Wonder Boy, Master Yehudi, Mother Sioux, Marion Witherspoon, Aesop - each character lovable and posessing their own kooky charisma.

Now I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms from MR VERTIGO. My solution? - To read more Auster! I read THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS prior to VERTIGO (also excellent, though not quite as consistently dazzling as this book). Now I intend to go back and explore the earlier works of this master storyteller.

I'm glad I discovered Paul Auster. So will you be!
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on 5 November 2007
I have read numerous books by Auster and his abillity to grip the reader with a story that would sometimes not as be as interesting or as worthy in the hands of a lesser skilled writer is astonishing. To me this book and many of his other tales are about the journey rather than the quality of the story. This book is my favourite of Auster's work, it is a wonderful, simple, yet intruging story of a young boys jounrney through life and into a wierd and wacky world. Read this book with an open mind and you will love it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 October 2009
My second Paul Auster book and this one grew on me the further I read. It's a very unusual story about a young boy in the USA who is taught to levitate. I don't want to give too much of the plot away but it follows his successes and failures, high and low spots. In many ways it read like a surreal tale.

There is a typically gritty American feel to the story. At first I found myself having little sympathy with the characters but once I got to know them I began to empathise. It's a world of gin palaces, brothels, gangsters, hucksters, baseball players, but a place where love and compassion and friendship win through despite murders and killings. There is an underlying goodness about the story despite the inherent violence.
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on 17 June 2013
This book is always the first title I recommend for those readers that have yet to read any of Paul Auster's work. It is both literary and utterly readable and I cannot imagine anyone reading this and not enjoying it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 May 2012
Paul Auster's 1994 novel Mr Vertigo is a veritable masterclass in inventive writing and is a delightful read. Based as it is on the story of (initially) 9-year old Walter Claireborne Rawley (Walt), who, an abandoned waif on the streets of St Louis in America's mid-west, is taken into the care of Master Yehudi, a traveller, who claims he can teach Walt to fly, Mr Vertigo is a fantastic story, the like of which is normally not my cup of tea at all. However, as with many novels by this most gifted of storytellers, what transpires is a delightful fable, peppered with interesting characters and intriguing plot twists, which I found totally mesmerising and captivating.

Beginning during America's years of prohibition, during the 1920s, and taking in historical events such as Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic and World War 2, Mr Vertigo charts the progress of Walt (and his mentor) over the next 60 years. But this is not in any sense an historical novel, but rather a deeply personal and affectionate account of a boy's (and later a man's) adventures and aspirations, amongst his adopted family and delivered to the reader via Auster's magical and engaging prose. Auster does make the odd serious comment on the political goings-on of the times, such as the 'family's' brutal encounter with the Ku Klux Klan, but, in the main, Mr Vertigo focuses on being an absorbing and poignant adventure yarn.

Mr Vertigo was actually one of the last of Auster's novels that I read, but having now read all his novels at least twice, I rate Mr Vertigo up with his very best work, such as New York Trilogy, Leviathan, The Music Of Chance, Moon Palace, etc.
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on 14 December 2015
An odd and somewhat incoherent novel. A huge amount of time is spent on the story of a boy who being taught to fly, quite literally, and when that becomes impossible, the story rushes headlong through most of the 20th Century as we see the 'Ordinary Joe' that boy has become battling to earn a living and make his way. The story accelerates amazingly fast and marriages and major life relationships are sped over in a few pages. And then it's over, and you do have to wonder what the hell it was all about.
It's Paul Auster so it's nicely told and an enjoyable and not too long read, but it doesn't seem to be anything. Neither a metaphor for modern America nor 'The Great American Novel' It just is what it is. A strange tale of a strange boy travelling through 20th Century America, and getting by.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 February 2015
I chose this because of the glowing reviews on Amazon. Although a novel about someone who could levitate seemed odd, I thought it would either be funny or some kind of deep metaphor for the times. As I read, I didn't know what to make of it. It was silly but not funny. If there was a deep metaphor it was beyond me. The characters weren't particularly lifelike or likeable and it didn't give much insight into the spirit of the times. The gangsters were like caricatures and the 1929 stockmarket crash was only mentioned in passing.

The story was just entertaining enough to keep going in the hope some purpose would emerge. Unfortunately, instead of improving, it got worse. The second half became more of a summary than a narrative and felt even more pointless. A few pages from the end I realised that no great revelation or insight was coming. Then I stopped reading, not caring enough even to read the last few pages to find out how it ended.
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2008
Magic emerges from Auster's writing in this picaresque tale of the rise to fame - and the subsequent decline - of Walt Rawley, "ragamuffin, from honky-tonk row", unwanted by his charge Uncle Slim. Walt's world is transformed beyond belief when a mysterious stranger, Master Yehudi, makes him an extraordinary offer: to teach him to fly.

Under the fierce discipline of Master Yehudi, Walt is subjected to a harsh regimen of rigorous training, a series of gruelling endurance ordeals, each trial marking a step towards his ultimate goal of mastering the art of levitation, walking on air. Technique perfected, Walt hits the road with Master Yehudi, on tour across America, dazzling audiences coast-to-coast with his amazing displays of "anti-gravitational feats" that, though implausible, are convincing in their description and detail - and marvellously entertaining! Auster elucidates the mystifying technique of levitating so smoothly and plausibly that we are ready to suspend our disbelief and slip easily into the world he creates. Public acclaim turns Walt into a national celebrity: known as "Walt the Wonder Boy", he is now the master of his art.

Walt's powerful narrative, recalling in old-age events that took place many decades before, takes us on a fast-paced trip through 1920's Americana - Lindberg's solo flight, to cite but one example. Walt's astounding breakthrough feat of levitating over a small pond in Kansas (at precisely the same time as Lindberg's historic flight across the Atlantic) is a metaphor for American spirit and enterprise heralding an age where there are no limits to what may be achieved. ("It was as if the sky had suddenly opened itself up to man") On the road to stardom, Walt runs into trouble involving a Ku-Klux-Kan lynching and a kidnapping by mean-and-nasty Uncle Slim who, rankled by Walt's astonishing success, hankers after a slice of the rich pickings he thinks Walt is raking in following his new-found celebrity status.

The latter part of the novel marks a dramatic downward shift in Walt's fortunes far removed from those heady, intoxicating days when he was "an unstoppable force" taking America by storm. Alone, moving into old-age, Walt is rescued by the sudden idea of writing his story - this book. Go with the flow! Enjoy the trip! And the magic of Master Auster. Recommended!
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on 18 June 2007
If you like good old fashioned tales that you need an imagination to read this is the book for you. I loved every bit of it, what a great read at any age
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on 10 May 2013
I've never directly answered that question "What is your favourite book?" as there have always been too many to choose from, but in my book, Paul Auster has beaten them all with this one which I found to be truly outstanding! He grabs you from the beginning via the voice of the narrator who pushes you along an incredible journey upon which you have absolutely no idea where you are going but you do know that you cannot stop. This is story-telling at its best, with every word crafted to turn every page in awe. Each character is brilliantly depicted through tough times where the highs and lows of their lives will pull at your heart strings and have you literally sobbing uncontrollably. My advice would be to read it slowly to make it last longer.
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