Synopses & Reviews
In Mr. Vertigo
, his dazzling eighth novel, Paul Auster introduces a quintessentially American hero who, early in his life, masters the art of the unimaginable, and then must live out his days long after the magic has been lost and forgotten.
It is 1927, the year of Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh and of Walter Claireborne Rawley, a streetwise orphan from Saint Louis who becomes "Walt the Wonder Boy," a diminutive showman famous for stunning audiences across the country with his feats of levitation. Walt's teacher is Master Yehudi, a mysterious iconoclast who rescues him from poverty and instills in him the faith, fearlessness, and devotion to hard work essential to such a magnificent venture. Inevitably, Master Yehudi and Walt fall prey to the sinners thieves, and villains of America in its pre-depression heyday, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob, and Walt's resilience, like that of his young nation, is over and again challenged.
Paul Auster, a "literary original" (Wall Street Journal) whose "bounties of intelligence, mystery and literary magic nourish and delight the mind" (Chicago Sun-Times), embraces both the realist and the mythic traditions in American literature. Walt and Yehudi are classic entrepreneur adventurers, and what they sell in Walt's performance is defiance of the natural laws governing men. This is an extraordinary, exuberant novel that captures the aspirations and excesses of a country ready to soar.
"Implicit is an analogy between levitation and the construct of fiction: both require fierce discipline to maintain a fleeting illusion." Publishers Weekly
"The author's openness to chance and laundromats could lead to the slack picaresque throughout, but his story is usually held taut by the metaphorical meanings of flight....The story is witty, inventive in its language, and invitingly playful with its metaphors. It has a fairy tale's compulsion to it." New York Times
Paul Auster, the New York Times-bestselling author of The New York Trilogy presents a dazzling, picaresque novel set in the late 1920s the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone. Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy," is a Saint Louis orphan rescued from the streets by a mysterious Hungarian Jew, Master Yehudi, who teaches Walt to walk on air. Master Yehudi brings Walt into a Kansas circus troupe consisting of Mother Sioux and Aesop, a young black genius. The vaudeville act takes them across a vast and vibrant country, through mythic Americana where they meet and fall prey to sinners, thieves, and villains, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob. Walt's rise to fame and fortune mirrors America's own coming of age, and his resilience, like that of the nation, is challenged over and over and over again.
About the Author
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of thirteen novels, including Travels in the Scriptorium coming from Henry Holt in February 2007. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.