Review of Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1, appearing in Riot Material.
“He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all of possibilities of time.” — Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”
One could imagine Borges, who declared that the basic devices of fantastic literature are four-fold—the work within the work, the contamination of reality by dream, the voyage in time, and the double—as personal timekeeper and Virgil-visioned guide to Paul Auster, who for the past half a century has trafficked in existential loops and slipknots, identity crises and vanishing acts. Auster, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, writing in the first person or third person, has always haunted his own writings, sort of as the negative imprint of a splitting point.You could argue that his canon as a whole, comprises a jigsaw autobiography of shadows and illusions, obliquely referring back to its source: an author by the name of Paul Auster who doesn’t exist ( the “I-is-somebody-else” of Rimbaud.) This is his metaphysical stock-in-trade, and in 4 3 2 1, his first novel in seven years, Auster strives to capture it in his most epic manner to date.”
Read the full review here.