Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Oracle Night by Paul Auster is sensational. I've finished it and have read the ending several times, going backwards and forwards. I cannot fathom why so many reviewers are disappointed in it and I don't agree at all with their criticisms. Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Tea, gave it a good review in the New York Times, though after reading it, I scratch my head and wonder if she read the same book I did.

The book opens as Sidney Orr, a novelist, is weak and debilitated after suffering from an undisclosed illness or injury that nearly killed him. One day he chances upon a blue notebook in a tiny, grimy stationery store in Brooklyn. The notebook draws him in, actually luring him, to begin a novel. In several days, he has written his protagonist into a trap he cannot escape from. As this dead end overtakes Orr's consciousness, his personal life becomes increasingly complex. When his wife's and his mentor's peculiar behavior upset his equilibrium, he begins another novel that fleshes out the long history that's at the root of what's going on in his own life. He uses the same approach he used with the previous book--he lets his mind go and records whatever his imagination unfolds. The truths revealed are so startling that he makes a crucial decision to stop the flow of events. I can say no more or I will ruin this book for you!