In Mr. Vertigo, his dazzling eighth novel, Paul Auster introduces a quintessentially American hero who, early in his life, masters the art of the unimaginable, and then must live out his days long after the magic has been lost and forgotten.
It is 1927, the year of Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh – and of Walter Claireborne Rawley, a streetwise orphan from Saint Louis who becomes "Walt the Wonder Boy", a diminutive showman famous for stunning audiences across the country with his feats of levitation. Walt's teacher is Master Yehudi, a mysterious iconoclast who rescues him from poverty and instills in him the faith, fearlessness, and devotion to hard work essential to such a magnificent venture.
Inevitably, Master Yehudi and Walt fall prey to the sinners, thieves, and villains of America in its pre-depression heyday, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob, and Walt's resilience, like that of his young nation, is over and again challenged.
Paul Auster, a "literary original" (Wall Street Journal) whose "bounties of intelligence, mystery, and literary magic nourish and delight the mind" (Chicago Sun-Times), embraces both the realist and the mythic traditions in American literature. Walt and Yehudi are classic entrepreneur adventurers, and what they sell in Walt's performance is defiance of the natural laws governing men. This is an extraordinary, exuberant novel that captures the aspirations and excesses of a country ready to soar.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Paul Auster's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview that begins when the audiobook ends.
"A charmer pure and simple....Nothing less than the story of America itself." (Washington Post)
"The story is witty, inventive in its language, and invitingly playful with its metaphors. It has a fairy tale's compulsion to it." (The New York Times)
“The characters speak a lusty lingo peppered with vintage slang, while a postmodern authorial irony tugs their innocence askew. The prose grows particularly electric when demystifying "loft and locomotion." Implicit is an analogy between levitation and the construct of fiction: both require fierce discipline to maintain a fleeting illusion.” (Publishers Weekly)
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