Mr. Vertigo

Mr. Vertigo

4.6 5
by Paul Auster
     
 

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Paul Auster, the New York Times-bestselling author of The New York Trilogy presents a dazzling, picaresque novel set in the late 1920s – the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone. Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy," is a Saint Louis orphan rescued from the streets by a mysterious Hungarian Jew,

Overview

Paul Auster, the New York Times-bestselling author of The New York Trilogy presents a dazzling, picaresque novel set in the late 1920s – the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone. Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy," is a Saint Louis orphan rescued from the streets by a mysterious Hungarian Jew, Master Yehudi, who teaches Walt to walk on air. Master Yehudi brings Walt into a Kansas circus troupe consisting of Mother Sioux and Aesop, a young black genius. The vaudeville act takes them across a vast and vibrant country, through mythic Americana where they meet and fall prey to sinners, thieves, and villains, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob. Walt's rise to fame and fortune mirrors America's own coming of age, and his resilience, like that of the nation, is challenged over and over and over again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It will come as no surprise to the gifted Auster's (Moon Palace, The Music of Chance) many fans that walking on air, the implausible premise of his marvelously whimsical seventh novel, is treated with convincing gravity. Walt Rawley recounts his life: an orphan born in 1924 with ``the gift,'' he was seized by his master, Mr. Yehudi, a Hungarian Jew who taught him to levitate. Yehudi takes the boy from St. Louis to his own Kansas menage, which consists of Mother Sioux and Aesop, a young black genius. (Also influencing Walt's life is classy, henna-headed Marion Witherspoon, a seductive mom figure from Wichita.) After harsh training, Walt tours with his mentor as ``the Wonder Boy,'' aka Mr. Vertigo. Crammed into this road saga is the potent Americana of myth: the 1920s carnival circuit, Lindbergh's solo, the motorcar, the ethnic mix, the Ku Klux Klan and the Mob, baseball and Kansas, ``land of Oz.'' Diverse mishaps descend, but eventually Walt glides into old age and writing. 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. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Rescued from the streets of St. Louis and taught to fly by Master Yehudi, Walter Rawley soon becomes a national sensation. The boy wonder foils a kidnapping by his evil uncle, but his powers of levitation suddenly wane with the onset of puberty, and he declines from miracle worker to Depression-era mobster. Auster provides a dazzling display of narrative power, but his story remains a metaphysical muddle. Fluctuating between the fabulous and the mundane, it establishes no firm foundation in either realm. If Yehudi's mysterious powers are real, why must his wards die in a Klan lynching and why must Yehudi himself resort to suicide? If the alleged powers are spurious and Auster's aging narrator is unreliable, the extent of his unreliability needs sharper definition. Auster's previous novel, Leviathan (LJ 7/92), is a much more absorbing study of the elusiveness of truth.-Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Jay Cantor
Mr. Auster adopts a more vernacular style than usual (though it's a brilliantly filigreed demotic, making it, of course, highfalutin in its own way).... The author's openness to chance and laundromats could lead to the slack picaresque throughout, but his story is usually held taut by the metaphorical meanings of flight.... 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
Jonathan Yardley
A charmer pure and simple…Nothing less than the story of America itself
Washington Post
The Washington Post
The author of Leviathan returns with a dazzling, picaresque, new novel in which Walter Claireborne Rawley, now an octogenarian, recounts his extraordinary vaudevillian adventures as "Walt the Wonder Boy" in 1924. "One hears every page of this novel, and sees it as well."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140231908
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/01/1995
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
305,075
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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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Mr. Vertigo 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MsOrange78 More than 1 year ago
I paid $14 for this book while out of town, and I must say I wish I could get my $14 back. While i'm not saying it's the worst book I have ever read, it's definitley not one of the best. I had high hopes based on other reviews, but was sorely disappointed. The writing style is fantastic and it is a well delivered historical fiction. However it's the story itself I had a hard time getting into. I felt like I was riding a roller coaster with this book. It was a little slow, then it got really really good, then it nose dived again, and then then kinda ended on a flat note. I wouldn't recommend this book, but I suppose based on your taste, you might enjoy it. The book store I purchased it from highly recommended it, but it just didn't do it for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished Mr. Vertigo, and thought it was an outstanding book. It definitely, stood out from most that I have read, as it is very well written, and even after you're done it seems to stick with you!! I highly recommend it to those looking for something with more to say, than your typical 'quick' read.( Not for young children.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
oh i cannot even tell you how amazing this book is. definitely not for young kids, although the cover may seem that way (dont judge a book by its cover)- it is sooo well written. I actually have to say that is is one of the best books i have ever read. i HIGHLY reccomend this book