- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Feb. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571227309
- ISBN-13: 978-0571227303
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 19.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
In the Country of Last Things Paperback – 3 Feb 2005
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Praise for In the Country of Last Things:
"Powerful, enigmatic, imaginative, and handled with artistry. . .One of the better modern attempts at describing hell."
- The Washington Post Book World
"Reminiscent in many ways of Orwell's 1984. . .Auster creates within these pages a place so real it could be our own country, perhaps our very own city."
- The Atlanta Journal Constitution --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In the Country of Last Things is Paul Auster's dystopian future; a tense and compelling novel, '[a]s harrowing and intellectually playful as Beckett . . .' (Time Out)See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Anna Blume is writing a letter to her childhood friend, but I doubt she expects it will ever make it to that friend. Anna has gone into the city where everything has fallen apart to try and find her brother, a journalist. The city is wretched--governments are collapsing and replacing themselves, but nothing ever changes. Bodies are collected to be burned for fuel, but that is about it. People trick others out of their money or they scavenge for trash or salvage to get by. The City itself is a sinister character that no one can escape from.
Anna Blume is relatively lucky in that she meets some wonderful people in the city, but then they fade away and disappear and become "last things." Anna meets a mother figure, a sinister father figure, a lover, a child, a different lover, an uncle figure, and several friends, but most of them disappear from her life in various horrible circumstances. It has commentary on the government, human interactions, and society without ever becoming preachy. The end is ambiguous, and depending on your disposition you can see it has a happy or a despairing ending.
It's marvelously written, and the prose is very tight and focused. Anna Blume's voice is believable. Initially, she goes into a lot of background of the city to paint it out to the friend she is writing to, but just as I was beginning to lose interest, she moves into the main storyline. It's a novel that stays with you and makes you think long after you have finished. Time Out said it best:
"As harrowing and intellectually playful as Beckett, In the Country of Last Things remains in the mind and the senses."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Paul Auster has set "In the Country of Last Things" in the bleakest imaginable place, a ruined city filled with starving, desperate people. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Camilla Macaulay
not sure about this, it gets a 5 star just because of the read up, seems awesome storyPublished 16 months ago by kristian smith
A dystopian novel set in a crumbling city in the not-too-distant future, 'In the Country of Last Things' is narrated by Anna, a young woman who left her comfortable existence to... Read morePublished on 13 Dec. 2014 by BookWorm
arrived very speedily and in good condition,Paul Auster is a very accomplished writer I thoroughly enjoy his booksPublished on 3 Oct. 2014 by wendy darling
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 morePublished on 13 Sept. 2013 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on 30 July 2013 by claire ionta
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 morePublished on 2 Jun. 2012 by Jenny Harding