Saturday, September 4, 2010

"I can't remember seing a single newborn child. And yet, there are always new people to replace the ones who have vanished."

In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
Weight: just under half a pound
Method of Disposal: Giving away to a friend

I purchased this book nine years ago, and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to read it. I am sad that I have read it just in time to get of rid of it. I don’t even know where to begin.

Anna Blume goes into a city she will likely never be able to leave again in search of her brother. The city is made up of a starving homeless population of people who crave death above most anything and have ceased giving birth. As people die an elusive, distant, and constantly changing government demands that the bodies be taken to facilities that then turn the remains into energy. Most of the buildings are now in rubbles and people live in constant fear of catching cold or falling. This city shadows one like you might find anywhere across the United States. As the city crumbles and shifts, the landmarks and conveniences fade away as do people’s memories. Snippets of what the world use to be like are found here and there, but people are mostly just focused on survival. Anna, the narrator, has the somewhat unique position of someone who gave up luxury and life to come to the city. A different life is not so distant in time, but is possibly unattainable in reality and almost impossible in her mind.

I do not know if the gloom that has crowded into my head, my heart, and my house stands on its own, or if this book has seeped into those places making everything that is darkness seem larger. I do not know how to put the book down now that I have read the final page. I do not feel adequate to write about it, talk about it, or really even think about it. I thought it was incredible. I will be reading much more from Paul Auster in the future. I hear this is not his best work so I have a lot to look forward to.

Ignoring my negative energy for a time, I think it is important to also recognize the hope, love, and determination of the characters in the novel. There are people of all sorts in this book, and you will be able to recognize some of them even in their most unrecognizable forms. If you have not read it you should go to the library and check it out. Let me know what you think. Maybe by then I will have figured out what to say about it.

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