New Paul Auster

Stacey D’Erasmo reviews Paul Auster’s latest in the Times:

“Oracle Night” is situated squarely on the Austerian matrix of narrative and reality — i.e., in a writer’s notebook. The writer is Sidney Orr (even his name puns on ambivalence), 34, semi-recovered from a never quite specified, nearly fatal illness, whose will to write has gone watery until he buys an exotic notebook in a stationery store in his Brooklyn neighborhood. The instant this notebook is purchased, stories begin to proliferate, so many of them that footnotes grow up from the bottom of the pages with still more stories, an entire luxuriant jungle of narrative. Orr starts writing a novel in the notebook about an editor with a resemblance to Orr who discovers a long-lost novel. Orr’s own story unfurls in various complicated ways; there is a screenplay about time travel; there is another, older writer, a mentor of Orr’s, with stories of his own; Orr’s wife has a secret; people real and fictional die; blows are exchanged; priceless manuscripts are lost; irrevocable acts have irrevocable consequences; some people live happily ever after, though not the dead ones.


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