'One day there is life...and then, suddenly, it happens there is death.' So begins Paul Auster's moving and personal meditation on fatherhood. The first section, 'Portrait of an Invisible Man', reveals Auster's memories and feelings after the death of his father. In 'The Book of Memory' the perspective shifts to Auster's role as a father. The narrator, 'A', contemplates his separation from his son, his dying grandfather and the solitary nature of writing and story-telling.
Beginning with the deconstructed detective novels of the New York Trilogy, Paul Auster has proved himself to be one of the most adventurous writers in contemporary fiction. In book after book, he seems compelled to reinvent his style from scratch. Yet he always returns to certain preoccupations--most notably, solitude and coincidence--and these themes get a powerful workout in this early memoir. In the first half, "Portrait of an Invisible Man," Auster comes to terms with the death of his father, and as he investigates this elusive figure, he makes a rather shocking (and enlightening) discovery about his family's history. The second half, "The Book of Memory," finds the author on more abstract ground, toying with the entwined metaphors of coincidence, translation, solitude, and language. But here, too, the autobiographical element gives an extra kick to Auster's prose and keeps him from sliding off into armchair aesthetics. An eloquent, mesmerizing book.