Troy Patterson
November 28, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Oracle Night

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Paul Auster
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C+

”Oracle Night” is the title of a novel within a pointedly abandoned novel within this wholly self-parodic novel. After Sidney Orr, a middle-aged writer getting back to his work after a near-fatal illness, buys a Portuguese notebook from a Chinese shopkeeper, the floodgates of his imagination open, and fine prose flows forth. ”Be careful, Sid,” a friend warns, of this magical stationery. ”You have to watch out that you don’t get lost.” Anyone familiar with Auster’s old books — his spare yarns of vanishing and chance — can guess that Sidney’s fiction will bleed into his reality. His chilling ghostliness, however, has been supplanted by insulting mystic hoo-ha and his smooth plot work replaced by garish leaps and twists.

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