IMG_1646I’ve read most of Paul Auster’s work with few disappointments. Friends often ask “What sort of thing does he write?” or “What happens in the end?” The answer to both is that I’m really never sure. His thematic preoccupations with chance, coincidence, truths and perceptions fascinate me and all I know is that if there is an Auster in the house it prevents me reading anything else; until I’ve read it I can’t focus on other books/authors; his books simply steal the hours and days. Among my favourite is Invisible. The ‘story’ is of Adam Walker, a young student who is unable to escape the pervasive negative influence of the enigmatic Rudolf Born, a professor (we are told), who enters Walker’s life at a university party, and sets in train a lifetime of preocupation with justice and retribution for a swift and viscious act. It is told in four linked parts, each from differing voices and narrative points of view. It encompasses New York, Boston, California, Paris and a little known Carribean island, and spans 1967 to 2007. There is no denouement as such and most of the characters die along the way. Auster’s trademark tricksiness is apparent – he is very, very clever with structure and technique – a master of his craft and his books are as much about writing itself as anything else. Invisible questions the nature of truth and reality, the stories we reveal or hide, how we present them and to whom, and who may or may not corroborate them. Here lie questions of crime and injustice, serious moral ambiguity, culpability and responsibility and those areas to which we are selectively blind. No one comes out of this well and for me both Walker and Born are, in their different ways, rotten to the core. It’s a tad saucy in parts, shocking in others, but a rattling yarn, full of the intrigue of a great thriller, is eventually raised upon a sparkling plinth of outstanding technical skill. If this is your first Auster, you will be richly rewarded – but beware. Once entered, Auster’s world is a place from which it is impossible to return.