In Mr. Vertigo, his dazzling eighth novel, Paul Auster introduces a quintessentially American hero who, early in his life, masters the art of the unimaginable, and then must live out his days long after the magic has been lost and forgotten.
It is 1927, the year of Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh – and of Walter Claireborne Rawley, a streetwise orphan from Saint Louis who becomes "Walt the Wonder Boy", a diminutive showman famous for stunning audiences across the country with his feats of levitation. Walt's teacher is Master Yehudi, a mysterious iconoclast who rescues him from poverty and instills in him the faith, fearlessness, and devotion to hard work essential to such a magnificent venture.
Inevitably, Master Yehudi and Walt fall prey to the sinners, thieves, and villains of America in its pre-depression heyday, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob, and Walt's resilience, like that of his young nation, is over and again challenged.
Paul Auster, a "literary original" (Wall Street Journal) whose "bounties of intelligence, mystery, and literary magic nourish and delight the mind" (Chicago Sun-Times), embraces both the realist and the mythic traditions in American literature. Walt and Yehudi are classic entrepreneur adventurers, and what they sell in Walt's performance is defiance of the natural laws governing men. This is an extraordinary, exuberant novel that captures the aspirations and excesses of a country ready to soar.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Paul Auster's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview that begins when the audiobook ends.
This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1995 Paul Auster (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"A charmer pure and simple.... Nothing less than the story of America itself." (Washington Post)
"The story is witty, inventive in its language, and invitingly playful with its metaphors. It has a fairy tale's compulsion to it." (The New York Times)
“The characters speak a lusty lingo peppered with vintage slang, while a postmodern authorial irony tugs their innocence askew. The prose grows particularly electric when demystifying "loft and locomotion." Implicit is an analogy between levitation and the construct of fiction: both require fierce discipline to maintain a fleeting illusion.” (Publishers Weekly)
Business Physicist and Astronomer
The book makes many profound points often explored in Auster's writing. Many of the reviews state something like "I kept waiting for the point". Auster writes in a style that explores the point rather than state it bluntly. He doesn't say, "let's look at the process and discipline of writing which, done with discipline, can make the reader suspend belief and bend reality." But instead, he gives us the story of a boy who works hard to master something more than a mere magic trick intended to strike the audience with awe and make the lad a fortune.
Sometimes this style plays out nicely as with the New York Trilogy. Sometimes, as with this book, the ideas are hammered too hard. The delicate concepts of disciplined writing and the role of the father are bludgeoned by a potentially good story not well told.
The book lacks the magic you expect from reading the summaries. Perhaps that's part of the point in that writing isn't magic, it's work. The lame critic comes along and beats up the work and steals the profit.
I like the ideas and the theme of the book and can say it's worth your time but don't expect to be enchanted. The book is more of an expository journey through ideas than an enthralling story of fantasy versus reality.
I doubt this book would ever become a good movie. It is a decent book.
Tell us about yourself!
Story never delivered a message. Ran all over the place. Too much attention given to his penis and its needs. Might want it to be sub catagoried as porn.
Performance was good.
Waste of money and time.
A really good audio book, feels like you?re listening to a classic...
"re you able to see your review?"
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lease allow me a minute to check this for you Terry. 4:47:32 PM
Terry Johnson: Ok 4:47:40 PM
Terry Johnson: Are you still there? 4:49:57 PM
CSA: Yes Terry. I am still ha
"Silly without being funny"
The performance was dull and expressionless. There was some attempt at variation in the tone but it sounded wrong. It was as if the reader could not make up his mind whether the book was a parody or a serious story. The tone was nasal, particularly towards the end and I wonder if he caught a cold and couldn't be bothered to wait until it was over.
I chose this because of the glowing reviews on Amazon. Although a novel about someone who could levitate seemed odd, I thought it would either be funny or some kind of deep metaphor for the times. As I read, I didn't know what to make of it. It was silly but not funny. If there was a deep metaphor it was beyond me. The characters weren't particularly lifelike or likeable and it didn't give much insight into the spirit of the times. The gangsters were like caricatures and the 1929 stockmarket crash was only mentioned in passing.
The story was just entertaining enough to keep going in the hope some purpose would emerge. Unfortunately, instead of improving, it got worse. The second half became more of a summary than a narrative and felt even more pointless. A few pages from the end I realised that no great revelation or insight was coming. Then I stopped reading, not caring enough even to read the last few pages to find out how it ended.
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