Austerity

My review of Paul Auster’s new novel, 4 3 2 1 (Faber & Faber) appears in today’s Sunday Business Post. It’s behind the Iron Paywall but here’s a wee excerpt:

Even in the novel’s early pages, elephantiasis looms. Two obese paragraphs are devoted to listing Rose’s reasons for marrying Stanley – there are eighteen, in case you’re wondering. This prologue also clues us in to the scale of Auster’s ambitions. We open on Ellis Island, with Stanley’s father, a Russian Jew from Minsk, receiving his new American name (Ichabod Ferguson). Any book that opens with an Ellis Island baptism is plainly shooting for Great American Novel status. Twenty pages later, Rose reads Tolstoy. “It was Tolstoy who […] understood all of life, it seemed to her, everything there was to know about the human heart and the human mind.” Stand back! Tolstoyan epic coming through! […] 4 3 2 1 just keeps on rolling. It is mediocrity turned, Spinal Tappishly, up to eleven.

I didn’t love it.

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