[BOOK REVIEW] One of Paul Auster's Strongest Novels
It all begins in New York in the spring of 1967. During a party, the young literature student Adam Walker bumps into Rudolf Born, a charismatic, hot-headed and enigmatic guest professor of political science - who may also be a secret agent by the way. The man radiates something deeply uncomfortable, something almost diabolical, and his manner is deliberately arrogant. He is provocative and dead cynical; at the same time elegant and urbane. Adam is promised a lucrative job as a journal editor and begins an intensive but short-lived relationship with the newly found patron's attractive partner.
But Auster's Invisible is also about a young and unspoiled man's moral and emotional development. Born reveals the darker sides of the world, and Adam's entire life changes through this meeting. Rudolf Born offers to finance a literary magazine for which Adam is to be editor. At the same time, a sophisticated game is unfolding - a macabre psychological one, as cruel as it is cynical - that Adam Walker can't quite comprehend.
At a dinner Rudolf Born offers the increasingly confused and embarrassed Adam to go to bed with Margot Jouffroy, the woman he lives with. And when Born is away, they obviously end up in bed - five nights in a row. An ominous feeling that this will have fatal consequences arises in the reader.
Paul Auster belongs to the small crowd of writers who are constantly forced to write in the heavy shadow of their own books. Each new book by Auster is valued by how it stands in relation to the series of novels usually called the The New York Trilogy. The first part, City of Glass, was released in 1985 and Auster was immediately and unanimously proclaimed genius by critics. Invisible is his fifteenth novel, and it's fully on par with the acclaimed New York Trilogy.
When the terrifying Rudolf Born leaves New York, to escape murder charges, and when Adam Walker tears the check that would finance the magazine, Adam moves in with his sister Gwyn. They start an incestuous sexual relationship during a few suffocating summer weeks. Invisible is a novel that is very much about sexuality and its power over man and her moral choices and fate.
Suddenly Auster shifts both time and narrative perspective. The year is 2007 and Adam is dying of leukemia. We now understand that the pages we have read so far is the beginning of a novel Adam is writing. He is sending these pages to his friend from university, the now successful author James Freeman. But the story soon moves on and we're yet again in the year 1967, when Adam Walker goes to Paris for a year of studies. He is once more confronted with Rudolf and Margot, and is drawn into new entanglements and peculiar circumstances.
Invisible is one of those rare novels that pulls you into a completely believable reality, however odd the events may be, and gets more fascinating and captivating for each new page. There is a constant unsettling vagueness, and you are led to the feeling similar to constantly being compulsed to look over your shoulder. Those who find detective stories exciting should read this blazingly intelligent, catchy, astonishing and ever-elusive novel, to find out what real suspense is all about.