29.5.10

Is Paul Auster still postmodern?

Sean Collins wonders whether Paul Auster has lost his touch for experimental narratives
Paul Auster, Invisible. Published by Faber and Faber.

Sean Collins reviews Paul Auster's latest novel, Invisible, and suggests that it 'ditches his usual formalism in favour of creating engaging characters'. The review builds on discussions which define Auster as a postmodern novelist, a writer interested in ambiguity of language and identity. But Collins suggests that Auster's most recent work marks a change in direction, an interest in a more traditional writing style: coherent narratives, rounded characterization, and storytelling as 'moral education'. You can read Collins' review online in the May issue of Spiked (my thanks once again to Susan Tomaselli for the link):
[...] With Invisible, Auster has now written 15 novels, of which his most critically acclaimed and best-selling work is The New York Trilogy, a series of books published in 1985. He is best known for literary gamesmanship, using techniques that draw attention to the text itself (which some refer to as ‘intertextuality’) as well as posing philosophical conundrums. This self-referential, formalistic approach is characteristic of late twentieth-century postmodernist literature.

But there’s a difference this time. Invisible shows Auster keeping the literary devices much more under control. The story moves along at a rapid clip, and Auster’s style is crisp and riveting. The changes in narration do not lead us to lose the plot; instead he weaves a mystery we’re invited to help solve. Furthermore, Auster goes beyond formalism and creates engaging characters. It could be argued that the characters are not fully developed or sympathetic, but they are certainly not just ciphers for philosophical positions. [Read the article]

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