“Life as we know it has ended, and yet no one is able to grasp what has taken its place.”

#36 of 2011 • In the Country of Last Things, by Paul Auster

And so Auster tries to figure it out by himself. Here, yet another Paul Auster. Not the Auster I’m used to, not the convoluted post-modern woozy, definitely not the breathtaking shmexy-tenderness of Invisible. This time, he’s tackling exploring a post-apocalyptic world:

Is that what we mean by life? Let everything fall away, and then let’s see what there is. Perhaps that is the most interesting question of all: to see what happens when there is nothing, and whether or not we will survive that too.

Patient world-building, and detailed—so much that my laziness won’t allow me to go in depth with them. An example, though. In this world of ash and grayness and desperation [a helping of The Road, anyone? (will The Road, from now on, be the short post-apocalyptic novel?)], people struggle to survive, and people pursue elaborate ceremonies of how to die. There are people who train to have their bodies at its strongest, that they may run and run and run to their deaths. There are people who leap from the tops of buildings. There are people who pay to be assassinated, not knowing when or how or by whom they’ll meet their death.

That’s such a watered-down example, and I do believe I’m not sufficiently giving Auster credit for these details. But, really, he can get so tedious. I mean, I respect the guy for all these little details, these facts of life—an allegorical alter-life, too obviously Moral for my tastes, really—but I can’t help but imagine that these are images idly written down by Auster. Images, and metaphors—What if we lived this way, figuratively? Oh, well.

I borrowed this book from Kael, but I don’t think he remembers.

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