In the Country of Last Things

In the Country of Last Things

4.5 6
by Paul Auster
     
 

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In a distant and unsettling future, Anna Blume is on a mission in an unnamed city of chaos and disaster. Its destitute inhabitants scavenge garbage for food and shelter, no industry exists, and an elusive government provides nothing but corruption. Anna wades through the filth to find her long-lost brother, a one-time journalist who may or may not be alive.

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Overview

In a distant and unsettling future, Anna Blume is on a mission in an unnamed city of chaos and disaster. Its destitute inhabitants scavenge garbage for food and shelter, no industry exists, and an elusive government provides nothing but corruption. Anna wades through the filth to find her long-lost brother, a one-time journalist who may or may not be alive.

New York Times-bestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) shows us a disturbing Hobbesian society in this dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Powerful, original, imaginative... .
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Imagine an American city in the near future, populated almost wholly by street dwellers, squatters in ruined buildings, scavengers for subsistence. Suicide clubs offer interesting ways to die, for a fee, but the rich have fled with their jewels, and those who are left survive on what little cash trade-in centers will give them for the day's pickings. This enthralling, dreamlike fable about a peculiarly recognizable society, now in the throes of entropy, focuses on the plight of a young woman, Anna Blume. Anna has memories of a gentler life, but comes to the city in a ``charity ship'' to hunt for her missing brother. She first finds shelter with a madman and his wife and later experiences a brief idyll with a writer, Samuel Farr.Together they live in the deteriorating splendor of the marbled public library. Promise is ultimately rekindled when the survivors consider taking to the road as magiciansan action implying that art and illusion can save. Auster, an accomplished stylist, creates a tone that deftly combines matter-of-factness and estrangement. The eerie quality is heightened by the device of a narrator who learns everything from Anna's journal.
Library Journal
In a book-length letter home, Anna Blume reports that her search for a long-lost brother has brought her to a vast, unnamed city that is undergoing a catastrophic economic decline. Buildings collapse daily, driving huge numbers of citizens into the streets, where they starve or die of exposureif they aren't murdered by other vagrants first. Government forces haul away the bodies, and licensed scavengers collect trash and precious human waste. Weird cults form around the most popular methods of suicide. Anna tries to help, but the charity group she joins quickly runs out of supplies and has to close its doors. A number of post-apocalyptic novels have been published recently; Auster's, one of the best, is distinguished by an uncanny grasp of the day-to-day realities of homelessness. This is a scary but highly relevant book. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101562598
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/02/1988
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
985,732
File size:
256 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

E.G. Sandvick
The subject and tone of this novel are reminiscent of Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz and Tim O'Brien's The Nuclear Age; the style and emphasis on philosophical statement will challenge the reader. . . . The author places his protagonist in ethical dilemmas that challenge the usual moral order. The epistolary form poses some limitations: little action, abrupt transitions between episodes, and little character development; nevertheless, a well-written novel, which avoids the usual stereotypes of the postnuclear destruction novel and presents a darker-than-usual moral vision.
Lawrence Norfolk
The business of scratching around in the wreckage, be it of the metropolis, of language or of consciousness, always runs the risk of being boring. Auster declines the risk and has tediousness forced on him anyway. The incidents and objects he describes betray an increasing desire to entertain the reader, but this is matched by their increasing insubstantiality; these 'last things' evoke no pathos, and, trading heavily on the Grand Guignol fascination which apocalyptic visions tend to elicit, the novel stands somewhere between Protect and Survive and Being and Nothingness

Meet the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The New York Trilogy and many other critically acclaimed novels. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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