Reading this book, I kept feeling very aware that Auster is a solid writer, but also that something about his style prevented me from fully immersing in the story. He seems pretty rigid in many ways — he has a clear idea of what he wants to communicate and the conﬁdence to make the story push out of the boundaries of realism to achieve it. But sometimes it just felt like the seams were too apparent, and I didn’t like feeling like I could see right through him, in a “he only made this happen in order for that to be plausible” manner. I like ﬁction that doesn’t feel invented.
The story itself is compelling and the themes Auster develops are quite smart — especially the recurring question, Can art exist without an audience?