Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
, Paul Auster's 15th novel, is an intricate and compelling construction, partly made up of the fragmented memoir of a dying man, Adam Walker, as he looks back at one year, 1967, in New York when he is a student at Columbia and later in Paris. The rest of the book is told from the perspective of a novelist friend of Walker's, who reads the memoir and reacts to its revelations. From these elegiac parts Auster has given us a lustrous, disturbing evocation of youth, violence, and overpowering sexuality—one that turns from the realm of a forbidden love affair into a high-powered tale of crime and intrigue. Walker, young, alone, striving to be a poet, meets one night at a party an elegantly rumpled, slightly menacing Frenchman along with a silent woman who will later welcome Walker to her bed. They are a seductive pair, and the encounter transforms the book into a page-turner: If Kafka had decided to try his hand at high-end pulp, you'd have something of Paul Auster's fictional approach. His great gift as a writer has always been the heft of his intentions: Even as the pages fly by, you feel his seriousness and his deep sense of the mysteries that attend human loneliness and desire.
— Vince Passaro