Book Review | Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

mrWhen people find out that I love Roth, Updike and Bellow, inevitably they recommend one of two authors – Jonathan Lethem or Paul Auster.

I finally got around to giving Auster a shot and I have to say that Mr. Vertigo didn’t do it for me. I can certainly recognize why people would enjoy this book – the plot is interesting and there are many twists and turns that kept me interested. However, the book was very plot heavy and way too light on character development for my taste.

The characters got older and they got better at certain talents but I felt that the main character was basically the same when he was 13 as he was at the very end. My favorite authors are those who focus more on the human condition and their characters growth, rather than what they do during their lives.

There is typically no better signal to me that someone is an amateur than an author who doesn’t know when to start a story. This usually means that said author will start well before the ‘story’ actually begins and give you immense amounts of background about a character you haven’t been engaged with first. While I would certainly not call Auster an amateur, I did feel that he had the opposite problem.

The novel follows a boy who goes through many trials and tribulations to capitalize on his levitation abilities. It begins on the day he’s discovered by Master, and briefly states that he’s lived with his aunt and uncle in terrible conditions until the day he runs away with Master. To really understand him as a character, I would have liked more information on his past and what his life was like at his aunt and uncle’s house.

Overall I felt that this book was very well written; it just wasn’t what I look for in a great book. For those who like magical realism and plot heavy books, I’m sure this would be a winner.

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