Author: Paul Auster
Read: May 2009; Madrid
Oracle Night is yet another one of Auster's lonely-writer, nested-narrative novels.
Suffering from an undetermined illness and recovering from a recent episode, Sidney Orr returns to writing. In his convalescence, he had been filling his days with mundane activities: lunch, errands, etc. However, one day he visits a mysterious stationery store in his Brooklyn neighborhood. There, he purchases a mystical, Portuguese notebook and begins to write after a long drought. The story that Sidney begins to write is complicated and I don't care to recall it. Just know that it begins as an exercise, but then the writing pours out of him and what he creates becomes fuller and darker.
Like much of Auster's writing, Oracle Night concerns itself with the process of writing and the relationship between writer, life, and work.
Auster, to me, is a go-to author when you want to read something substantive, but you don't want to commit a lot of time to it. He's brilliant with mood and meaning; through this he's able to construct layers that are readable and suspenseful, but also challenging. We come to expect this from the author, but Oracle Night took it a little too far, I think. Maybe one layer too many? Maybe we could have dialed back the alienation a bit? Though, maybe that was me. I read this while traveling alone in a foreign city.
Anyway, it was an interesting read. And since it's not much of a time commitment, it's worth picking up. But don't be shocked if you find yourself on the verge of an eye-roll every once in a while.
Captivating and well-paced, with a healthy dose of mystery.
3 out of 5 stars