7. Invisible by Paul Auster
Mr. Paul Auster is an author whose work I either love or hate – usually in that order, according to his publishing schedule. The appearance of his latest in my top ten this year should give an indication of where he is on that schedule.
Invisible is a clever, well-wrought novel that tricks the reader at every turn with false information and embellishments by multiple narrators. In reality, of course, people often do not tell the truth – or at least they sometimes alter that truth to better serve themselves – so why is this not usually the case in fiction? Why should we implicitly believe every word that our narrator imparts to us? Constructed in interlocking narratives of incestual lust, a random act of violence, and a lifelong pursuit of justice, the lines between memory and reality are sufficiently blurred by Auster, leaving the reader to question each previous perspective as they are laid at our feet.
I love those books that test the boundaries of fiction like this – David Mitchell, Borges, Calvino – and Auster (with the exception of Brooklyn Follies) always tries to push that, but often ends up bound in the knots of his own overreaching machinations. Not so here – this left me really wondering about the place of identity, truth, and narration in both fiction and reality. If you read just one Auster novel in your life, this just might be the one – it’s certainly the most resonant for me.