Mr. Vertigo is a novel by the American author Paul Auster.
Reading Auster is a bit like riding a bike, you’ll get a really good view of the scenery, you’ll have to do some of the work yourself and if you keep at it for to long your ass will start to hurt.
Peter Aaron is a writer, Peter has a friend, who’s also a writer – the friends name is Benjamin Sachs. When the book starts, the fragmented pieces of Sachs has just been found at the side of the road out in the back roads of northern Wisconsin. Apparently Sachs had been preparing a bomb, when something went wrong.
Leviathan is Peter telling the story of Ben and how he ended up blowing himself to pieces. Peter manages, in my humble opinion, to do a piss poor job of it, as the book tells us a lot more about Peter then it tells us about Ben Sachs, but that doesn't stop the book for being really good. I'm fairly sure that this was what Paul Auster intended all along and in someways the books is more of a “paying it back” from Peter to Sachs. Lots of interesting and fascinating stuff happens to our two main characters, all of it possible (this is not sci-fi or fantasy) and fairly everyday in its nature, but taken together we are getting pretty high on my improbability meter.
And there it is – from the fact that the main character shares initials with Paul Auster, to the fact that every character in the book seem to know each other before they are introduced (and that is a nice coincidence in New York), coupled with the fact that everybody shows up where they are supposed to show up, no matter how unlikely, to make the story work. This is what Paul Auster does so well, many of his stories work by heaping more or less likely events on, besides and between each other. It makes a tightly woven tapestry of events and characters, where it all just ends up fitting together.
When it works, it makes for fantastic reading. There's no doubt that it works in Leviathan, but I have to admit that I found it a bit, in uninteresting. When you've read a couple of Austers books, it becomes a bit like a trick or a mental exercise, it's neat, but not really that interesting. Or maybe it's because, all the other stories that I've read by him, that works this way, are a lot shorter that this one (Mr. Vertigo is not really that kind of story). Maybe it just doesn't work for 240 pages. Well it works, but so does driving your car (or riding your bike) by the same route to and from work every day, but it just doesn't hold the same excitement as driving a car for the first (or second) time. To much of anything is to much.
As I said, this is a nice book – it's also very well written, but the string of unlikely events does get a bit long at times.
Written on 1st August 2001 by TC.
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