Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Author: Paul Auster
Number of pages: 320
Started: 5 August 2010
Finished: 10 August 2010
“I shook his hand for the first time in the spring of 1967. I was a second-year student at Columbia then, a know-nothing boy with an appetite for books and a belief (or delusion) that one day I would become good enough to call myself a poet, and because I read poetry, I had already met his namesake in Dante’s hell, a dead man shuffling through the final verses of the twenty-eighth canto of the Inferno. Bertran de Born, the twelfth-century Provencal poet, carrying his severed head by the hair as it sways back and forth like a lantern — surely one of the most grotesque images in that book-length catalogue of hallucinations and torments. Dante was a staunch defender of de Born's writing, but he condemned him to eternal damnation for having counseled Prince Henry to rebel against his father, King Henry II, and because de Born caused division between father and son and turned them into enemies, Dante's ingenious punishment was to divide de Born from himself. Hence the decapitated body wailing in the underworld, asking the Florentine traveler if any pain could be more terrible than his.”.
Read a longer extract here
New York City, Spring 1967: Twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born, and his silent and seductive girlfriend Margot. Falling into a passionate affair with Margot, Walker soon finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.
What I thought:
This is Paul Auster’s latest book and it follows some of his normal themes and styles, such as the every-changing role of the narrator and how the story is told.
It was a good story, although difficult to describe without giving away too much of the plot. It is a tale of how particular acts can change our lives, and whether w can believe the stories that we are told.
I am a big fan of Paul Auster, but I don’t think this is one of his best. It was a good story, but perhaps not quite as gripping as some of his others, and it covers some uncomfortable themes, which perhaps make it harder to say that you enjoyed it. Nonetheless it was a good book and I am looking forward to his new book which is due out later this year.