In the Country of Last Things

ISBN: 0140097058
ISBN 13: 9780140097054
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts

Alberto Jacobo Baruqui

Anna Blume va en busca de William, su desaparecido hermano, en un país donde sucede lo anti-natural. Anna comienza la historia dejándonos entrar intimamente en sus pensamientos y sentires, pues atraves de una carta que escribe para su novio va invitándonos a participar poco a poco, mostrando la miseria del ser humano en un mundo apocaliptico-infernal.Es una de las mejores descripciones que he leído de un "Infierno moderno". Un infierno que rompe con lo tradicional, con lo bíblico, con lo histórico. Una descripción completa de un mundo creado con paciencia y donde en ocasiones Auster juega con el lector, pues entra en detalles donde luego prefiere ya no seguir explicando...tarde diría yo, pues ya ha dejado la semilla y ésta ha hecho su parte creadora y nuestra imaginación ha comenzado a terminar las ideas e imágenes ya mas de forma individual y personal. Buen recurso.En este mundo solo hay entrada, pero existe la esperanza para encontrar una salida que puede nunca llegar.Dentro de un mundo apocaliptico, "El País de las ultimas cosas" nos muestra esencias del ser humano. Lo mas ruín y bajo, y algunos destellos con los que podría mantenerse una esperanza para seguir llamandonos seres humanos.Libro con estructuras de narración muy accesibles, prestado por mi hermana, quien también lo toma como uno de sus favoritos. Muy buen libro. Que sigan aportando mas literatura autores con esta calidad. AJ

Rob

I close the covers of this book with a sense of foreboding and uncertainty. The narrative is a kissing cousin to Dhalgren , and is a city only a little less shifty than Bellona. It isn't per se dystopian (too anarchic?), nor is it really "apocalyptic" (there's been no obvious end of the world) but it's disturbed and disturbing and turned upside down. It's an epistolary novel, and as such conjures up comparisons with The Handmaid's Tale , but less linear. It's harder to guess where this goes next.It's lyrical, and beautifully written. I'll need to re-read it, I think.---See also:• The Best (or Worst) of Apocalyptic Books (via HuffPo, via LA Review of Books)

Frank Jude

Re-reading this book offered me yet another experience of the truth that one never reads the same book twice! I approached re-reading In The Country of Last Things reluctantly, as I remember not caring for it much when I read it back in 1990. I remembered it being a bit of a slog to get through. Well, that was me then and me now found himself totally engrossed in this disturbing dystopian nightmare! This time, I found myself connecting with Anna Blume in her quest to find her missing brother in a city where the masses are homeless, infra-structure has completely broken down and death -- including cults of 'leapers' and 'runners' who ritualize suicide -- is the only escape. As one reads this book, however, one can see that all too much of what is detailed can be found around most any corner of any city outside of the gated communities of the one percent. It is the Great Depression, New York City in the 70s and 80s when it verged on bankruptcy, and the most recent financial collapse combined and raised a power or two. What gives this narrative its power is how Auster provides detailed descriptions of the social structures at play, as when he describes the culture of the "runners" and their regimen of preparation.The book is a letter, written by Anna Blume to a friend back from where she came and to where she can never return. She ends it with no assurance her friend will ever receive it or read it. Padgett Powell writes about this book:"Mr. Auster seems most interested in this problem of confronting a limited thing with talk that shall not be, or cannot be, limited: ''I've been trying to fit everything in, trying to get to the end before it's too late, but I see now how badly I've deceived myself. Words do not allow such things. The closer you come to the end, the more there is to say. The end is only imaginary, a destination you invent to keep yourself going, but a point comes when you realize you will never get there. You might have to stop, but that is only because you have run out of time. You stop, but that does not mean you have come to the end. The words get smaller and smaller, so small that perhaps they are not even legible anymore. It makes me think of Ferdinand and his boats, his lilliputian fleet of sailing ships and schooners.''It is an asymptotic approach of expression to the nothing it finally defines, an infinite series of effables toward the ineffable. It is not simply objects that are disappearing. Human things are on the wane too. Mr. Auster offers Anna nothing in the way of hope and wants her to make a generous, human account of it anyway. In light of this aim, if indeed it is Mr. Auster's, it is telling that (Louis-) Ferdinand is bumped off early, and that Anna, facing a world ever bleaker than Celine's, remains resilient, plucky, apologetic for uncivilized behavior necessary to survive, and hopeful yet. She promises to write more of her continuing search for William. If in the beginning there was only the Word, she wants to say that in the end It will still be."In the end, I remembered that the opening sentence, "There are the last things, she wrote" hint that just perhaps Anna Blume's letter got read.

Ian Paganus

Post-Apocalyptic ApocryphaI don’t normally seek out post-apocalyptic novels, but Paul Auster’s novel is one to treasure.Even though it is an early work, I felt I was in the hands of a master.It is both beautifully written and wise.It’s easy to read, but it’s not so easily “readable” that I could read it without turning the telly off.Although its style is sparse and economical, there’s a lot happening beneath the surface.Still, Auster carefully manages exactly how much he wants us to know and what he wants to remain unclear or open for conjecture.This transforms the reader into a literary detective, a sifter of clues and memories.Anna’s Epistle to An Unnamed FriendThe story is told in the voice of 19 year old Anna Blume in the form of a long letter to a friend who isn’t identified (but might be a little sister or a childhhod friend).The letter is a summary of her time in a post-apocalyptic city, written hurriedly in the last days before she expects to escape it illegally.I’m not sure how appropriate or successful the epistolary format was.There is only one long 190 page letter written in a blue notebook, not an exchange of correspondence. We only get one point of view. It could just as readily have been a journal, apart from the fact that it’s addressed to one particular person.A Letter Never Sent?Was her letter ever sent?It’s not clear whether the letter was ever delivered or read. It's quite possible that it wasn't.This could be an inevitable consequence of the choice of epistolary format.Normally, this format would dictate that the novel must work internally within the letter.We can only assume that someone “found” or received it, even if it wasn’t the addressee for whom it was intended.However, in the first few pages, there are some clues.Phrases like ”she wrote” and “her letter continued” are interposed into the letter.Perhaps, they are intended to suggest that somebody other than we readers might have found the letter and read it, if not necessarily the addressee.However, ultimately, whether or not it was read by the right person, Auster implicitly makes the point that it was worth writing (if only because ultimately he wrote it!).An Incomprehensible ApocalypseAs you would expect, Paul Auster doesn’t tell us a lot about the nature of the Apocalypse itself. It’s cloaked in mystery.The novel is more concerned with its aftermath.Anna Blume arrived in the city by foreign charity ship, 12 months after the Apocalypse occurred.She comes from a different country to the east, possibly England.There are opportunities to reveal where she comes from (presumably she has a foreign accent, but nobody comments on it; Victoria, one of the people she meets on the way, has sent her children to England to escape the Apocalypse, but they don't appear to discuss this common interest).It seems strange that nothing is made of these opportunities to disclose her origins, although Anna might not have thought them important enough.A Report Never FiledAnna is looking for her older brother, William, a journalist who had previously come to report on the events for a newspaper, but has since gone missing.It’s not clear how much reporting has got through to the rest of the world. Not much by the sound of it.A Collapse of Epidemic ProportionsOnly when Anna has been in the city for some time does she learn that:"...some kind of epidemic had broken out there. The city government had come in, walled off the area, and burned everything down to the ground."Or so the story went. I have since learned not to take the things I am told too seriously."It’s not that people make a point of lying to you, it’s just that where the past is concerned, the truth tends to get obscured rather quickly.“Legends crop up within a matter of hours, tall tales circulate, and the facts are soon buried under a mountain of outlandish theories."It’s not clear whether the epidemic was the primary cause of the Apocalypse or whether it was an after-effect.Auster refers to the Apocalypse occasionally as a “collapse”, which suggests that it might have been just as much a social phenomenon, as a natural or even man-made disaster, though there is some sense of past destruction and imminent war.He also mentions “the Troubles”, which were violent political disputes, although it’s unclear whether they preceded or followed the Apocalypse.Whatever the physical cause of the Apocalypse, it’s clear that not only have many buildings collapsed, but the social order of the city has collapsed into barely-controlled anarchy.Like the surviving inhabitants, readers have to piece together the clues, and even then it isn’t clear how reliable they are. The City of DestructionAuster does not name the city in the novel, although many consider it to be New York.It contains a National Library, but I doubt whether it is intended to be Washington, because it seems to be a port, and we learn that there is nothing on the same continent east of it.None of the street names are recognisable, although “Circus Street” might just be Broadway.Even though Anna comes from a place that has been unaffected, she lacks knowledge about the continent that the city is on.Again, she has to rely on what she has been told:"This country is enormous, you understand, and there’s no telling where he might have gone. Beyond the agricultural zone to the west, there are supposedly several hundred miles of desert. Beyond that, however, one hears talk of more cities, of mountain ranges, of mines and factories, of vast territories stretching all the way to a second ocean."Whether or not this is America, why doesn’t she seem to have greater knowledge of the continent? Has the knowledge of the rest of the world been affected as well?Wide is the Gate and Broad is the RoadSome clues as to the scope and design of the novel can be found in the epigram:"Not a great while ago, passing through the gate of dreams, I visited that region of earth in which lies the famous City of Destruction."Nathaniel Hawthorne This quotation comes from Hawthorne’s short story, “The Celestial Railroad”, which is an allegory about the people of a city who try to build a shortcut between their own city and Heaven, between “The City of Destruction” and “The Celestial City”.Hawthorne based his story on John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, the full title of which is “The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come”.Both works are concerned with the proper way to get to Heaven, which is itself described in the Bible:"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14A Secular Pilgrim's ProgressThe novel isn’t overtly Christian or religious (even though Anna describes herself as Jewish). However, there is an underlying morality at work.Without any obvious clues, there’s a sense that the city was doing something "wrong", that it had started to step out too confidently and aggressively for its own good, that it deserved to decline and fall, and therefore that it had it coming to it.Perhaps, it’s been punished for being immoral, greedy and inconsiderate, if not necessarily being irreligious.In the wake of the Apocalypse, there’s a sense in which humanity has to reconstruct itself without the aid of institutional religion.After her arrival, Anna is quickly reduced to the level of a local inhabitant.She has to make her way back to virtue, happiness and fulfilment, and her letter describes a secular pilgrimage of sorts.The Getting of WisdomAnna has to piece together every resource available to her, whether spiritual or worldly, to survive.In the process, she gains some awareness, knowledge and wisdom, even if it could be taken away from her at any moment.She starts by describing issues of subsistence, the hunger from which everyone suffers:"You must get used to doing with as little as you can. By wanting less, you are content with less, and the less you need, the better off you are."That is what the city does to you. It turns your thoughts inside out. It makes you want to live, and at the same time it tries to take your life away from you."Out of OrderThen she describes the social structures that have emerged to fill the void left by the Apocalypse: Runners, Leapers, Smilers, Crawlers, Dreamers, Fecalists, Resurrection Agents, Vultures, Tollists.Where there is no longer any authority, there is now desperate tribalism, bare aggression and raw power.Sickness prevails. Death is everywhere.Even within the confines of the Library, many of the books have been stolen for fuel.Those that remain have been scattered all over the floor.They are "out of order" and therefore useless.Like everybody else, Anna is left to her own devices. Or almost.Populating the CityHaving set the scene, Anna introduces the people she has allowed into her life in the city.She makes friends and loses them, whether to death or fate or circumstance.Still, the company of others gives her both love and hope, if only temporarily.Every act of friendship is more valuable, given the circumstances in which it occurs.At times, it seems that the novel is an allegory about the Holocaust, where even in the worst and most evil of conditions the beauty of humanity can still shine through.Eventually, her band of accomplices resolves itself down to the comforting Sam Farr (who she had hoped would lead her to William), the charitable Victoria Woburn (who maintains a hospital in memory of her father) and the eccentric Boris Stepanovich.A Persona of Indifference Becomes a Persona of BenevolenceAnna and Sam start a relationship, only to be parted, without knowing whether the other is alive.Sam hibernates:"I gave up trying to be anyone. The object of my life was to remove myself from my surroundings, to live in a place where nothing could hurt me anymore. One by one, I tried to abandon my attachments, to let go of all the things I ever cared about. The idea was to achieve indifference, an indifference so powerful and sublime that it would protect me from further assault. I said good-bye to you, Anna..."Yet one day, he stumbles into Victoria’s hospital where Anna is now working.Reunited at last, he takes on the role of doctor, and the patients start to trust him with their problems:"It was like being a confessor, he said, and little by little he began to appreciate the good that comes when people are allowed to unburden themselves – the salutary effect of speaking words, of releasing words that tell the story of what happened to them."So Sam transitions from non-attachment to engagement with life and, by doing so, he reinvigorates Anna as well.An Escape Never Made?At the end of the novel, Anna’s unlikely "bande a part" is poised to escape the city.So Anna writes her letter in the days leading up to their departure.We never know whether they succeeded or what happened to them subsequently.A Collection of Last ThingsWhile there might be a tragedy inherent in this story, it also says something about the role of story-telling and writing.Life is ephemeral. It happens, and once it has happened, it moves into the past and ceases to be:"These are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back...When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else, and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn’t waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it."If thoughts can’t survive, then neither can memories.Memories require a human to maintain and transmit them.Absent people, the memories die, and the reality that once was is no more.Just as people deny the Holocaust, once the memories cease, people start to forget or deny the underlying factuality.A Recollection of Lasting ThingsStill, Anna feels the compulsion to write, to preserve these memories, to create an amulet:"I am not sure why I am writing to you now...But suddenly, after all this time, I feel there is something to say, and if I don’t quickly write it down, my head will burst. It doesn’t matter if you read it. It doesn’t even matter if I send it – assuming that could be done. Perhaps it comes down to this. I am writing to you because you know nothing. Because you are far away from me and know nothing."Towards the end, Anna pictures her letter as “one last thing to remember me by”.The notebook could end up as a thing sitting on a shelf above a bed, one last thing that might last.Boris the ChameleonAnna owes some of this change of approach to the flamboyant, charlatan-like Boris Stepanovich.At first, she is captivated by, but sceptical about, his tale-telling and his constant metamorphosis:"One by one, he took on the roles of clown and scoundrel and philosopher."Unlike anyone else she has met, his character shifts:"A man must live from moment to moment, and who cares what you were last month if you know who you are today?"Yet Boris is a sentimentalist at heart, if a wily one.Without words and memories, who would know what they are today anyway?He says of a precious tea cup:"The set has suffered the fate of the years…and yet, for all of that, a single remnant has survived, a final link to the past. Treat it gently, my friend. You are holding my memories in your hand."Hats Off to BorisAnna gets another clue from Boris' love of ornate hats:”Boris explained that he liked to wear hats because they kept his thoughts from flying out of his head. If we both wore them while we drank our tea, then we were bound to have more intelligent and stimulating conversations.”Equally, perhaps, society needs memories, to be truly civilized.Civilisation is what separates us from mere subsistence, whether in a ghetto or a garret.So, ultimately, Boris too revitalises Anna:"We became dear friends, and I owe Boris a debt for his compassion, for the devious and persistent attack he launched on the strongholds of my sadness."Likewise, Boris becomes the inspiration for the escape plan:"Make plans. Consider the possibilities. Act."Humanity must not just embrace contemplation, it must embrace action to survive.Promise to WriteAnna promises to write to her friend when they get out of the city of destruction.We never find out whether she got out safely, or survived, or posted her letter, or ever wrote again.Hear Me Calling YouStill, we are lucky to have read her epistle of engagement and action and persistence and humanity.She did not just call out into the blankness, or scream into a vast and terrible void.She did not just create one of the last things that will disappear, she created something that will last.She did not write in vain.The "you" she was writing to has become the "we" who have read Paul Auster's novel.It is we who have heard her call.

Banan

قرأتها على فتراتٍ مُتباعدة , ليس أنَّها ثقيلة أو رديئة ؛ لُغتها النثريَّة فاخرة فحسب و تستحقُّ وقتاً تام وعقلاً خال لا يودُّ أن يُبصر إلا القراءة . رواية عميقة , تجسِّد التدهور الإنساني والصراع الأخلاقي بحرفيّة جميلة وتسلسلٍ متقن , هذا -بالتأكيد- بغض النظر عن الإباحيَّات التي قفزت في عدة مواضع كجانبٍ روائي مُكمِّل للقصة والرؤية التي يريد أوستر إيصالها .

Henrik

I found this atypical post-apocalyptic novel intelligent, intriguing and well-composed. With a suitable dark tone permeating everything, from the opening lines' mysterious hints to the ending's uncertainty.Why only 3 stars, then? Well... The protagonist is a woman, okay? First person perspective. Yet it all read to me like a woman as seen through the eyes of a man. Annoyed me, broke the illusion.Other than that: Still recommendable.

سامية عياش

سيدهشك الضياع، الجنون، العيش لأجل الخطوة القادمة فقط، لا أكثر من هذا!!كل شيء تظن أنه لك، يتسرب من بين يديك، دون أن تدرك بواقيهتقترب من الموت، ثم تتمكن من التفلت منه، أو أنه يجاورك طوال الوقت، ويطبطب على كتفيك، تبلع ريقك للنهاية، حتى تتفاجأ أن الماء في جوفك اختفى، وتعود.. لذات النقطة، يبتعد الموت، لكنك تبقى متشردا تكتشف ذاتك كلما ضعتهي دعوة، لمقاربة الذات، ولو قراءة

Fabian

Ein toller dystopischer Roman von Auster, den ich während der aufkommenden Finanzkrise anhub zu lesen und der möglicherweise deshalb den kleinen Apokalyptiker in mir ein wenig in seinem 100jährigen Schlaf gestört hat. Zu anfang findet sich dieser Satz:“These are the last things. A house is there one day, and the next day it is gone. A street you walked down yesterday is no longer there today. Even the weather is in conctant flux.”Ein Buch über eine Gesellschaft nach der großen Katastrophe, in welchem mit Liebe zum Detail beschrieben wird wie sich das Leben unter diesen Umständen organisiert. And when it all comes down to Dust ...

Dulce

A minha incursão pela vasta obra de Paul Auster teve o seu segundo capítulo com este livro publicado em 1987. Mais uma vez a leitura foi galopante e, mais uma vez, o final foi abrupto. O cenário é uma cidade, um país em estado de sítio, cujo nome e lugar desconhecemos. A descrição é quase apocalíptica; e é tão bem feita que quase nos transportamos para lá. Nalguns pontos, fez-me lembrar duas obras de Saramago - o famoso "Ensaio sobre a Cegueira" e o conto "Embargo", recentemente adaptado ao grande ecrã. Também certas passagens me fizeram vir à memória o filme "A Estrada". Esta fixação de alguns autores por cenários devastadores é interessante, pois põe-nos a remoer certas questões, a medir forças, a questionar a nossa capacidade de sobrevivência. É quase um teste e eu, finda a leitura, duvido que conseguisse ultrapassar os obsctáculos que Anna Blume, a narradora, contornou. Quero acreditar que este meu mundo nunca se tornará no mundo ali descrito por Auster, mas ainda assim vale a pena conhecer o cenário negro que o autor pintou e comprovar a sua magnífica e inigualável capacidade de imaginação, ainda para mais tendo em conta a data em que o livro foi escrito.

Alberto Schiariti

L'unico difetto che posso trovare in questo libro è quello di non aver voluto rischiare il colpo del capolavoro. L'atmosfera ricreata è veramente bellissima e pare di trovarsi accanto alla protagonista in questo universo post-apocalittico, dove la morte è all'ordine del giorno. Anna è una donna e porta con sé tutta la debolezza e la forza di questo tratto. Incredibilmente forte nella rincorsa alla vita e più fragile quando il cuore sovrasta la fame.Come dicevo all'inizio, le premesse per le 5 stelle c'erano tutte, ma la brevità da l'impressione di assistere ad un piccolo scorcio di un'opera immensa. E' il primo libro di Paul Auster che leggo e mi ha colpito molto positivamente. Adesso vado con "Il libro delle illusioni" :-)

Clara

** spoiler alert ** Orwellian (adj): a paucity of razor blades. I read this book compulsively last weekend while i was on vacation. It probably only deserves two stars because some reviewer on the back cover called it Orwellian, which, duh, every dystopian novel is, and because the protagonist felt gratuitously female, the way female protagonists of male authors sometimes do, what with her offhand use of the c-word, her unlikely frequent masturbation in the presence of a very sexually creepy man, her, ahem, fleshed out and yet naturally temporary affair with another woman, and worst of all, her choice of shaving her legs instead of shaving his face. I'm sorry, but it is the rare woman who would worry about shaving her legs while living in an abandoned building without electricity with a man who'd lost several teeth and never took a shower. Is she really going to care about leg shaving when there's very little food, no good way to wash clothes, and very little tampon availability? Because this is what life for a woman would be like in a dystopian country of last things. I gave it three stars, though, for the concept of living in an abandoned library. Despite the leg shaving scene, I loved the library part. Loved it.

Eng

اكتئاب ... اكتئاب ....اكتئاب The book of Eli بس النسخة النسائية و فى الرواية لسه موصلوش أنهم ياكلوا بعضأول قراءة لبول أستر و ليست الأخيرة إن شاءاللهالرواية أحداثها قليلة بالنسبة للأوصاف و خواطر البطلة و ذكرياتهاالتى تعتمد عليها بشكل كلى للنجاة من الحاضر الأليم و المستقبل الأسودالبطلة تبحث عن أخيها المفقود فى بلاد اللاشىء من أى أخلاق أو مبادىءتكاد تكون خالية من الإنسانية بحد ذاتهافى رحلة الضياع تكاد تنسى أخوها و لا تبحث عنه يكتفى أن تتابع كيف تنجو البطلة من كل هذه المصائب و تتمسك بالحياة لأخر دقيقة متيقنا مع هذه الحياة أن أخوها فى عداد الموتى الغريب غريزة الإنسان فى البقاء على قيد الحياة بالرغم من إنعدام المأكل و الملبس و المسكن و تأمر الطبيعة(التقلبات الجوية و الجو البارد و الأمطار و الثلج ) هو الأمر الذى تجسد فى الرواية بشكل واقعى و طبيعى إلى أقصى الحدود لدرجة أن فكرة الإنتحار أصبحت فكرة دنيئة و ساذجة لمن يفكر فيها على الرغم من هذه الحياة التى لا تشبه الحياة فى أى شىء.سام الذى أعتبرته البطلة زوجها هو رمز للإنسانية التى لا تضيع بضياع المأكل و المشرب ،فكرة أنه يسعد لحملها و لا يتنازل عن طفله و حقه فى إنجاب طفل فى هذا العالم الموحش كانت نقطة كسر بهاالكاتب سودواية هذا العالم و أبرز الإنسانية المدفونة فى الأعماق من جديدفى هذه الدنياالسوداء تكاد لا تكون هناك أى غريزة للإنسان إلا البقاء على قيد الحياة و الإحساس بالأمان لذلك البطلة لا تجد أى تحرج فى علاقتها بسيدة اخرى بلا انها تطلب التفهم لماهية هذه العلاقة. ما لم يؤخذ على الكاتب أو المترجم أنه لم يسهب فى وصف هذه العلاقة ووضعها فى إطار الإحساس بالأمان ليخرج من الإباحية لمنطق مباح فى هذه الحياة.الرواية مليئة بتفاصيل كثيرة كلها تدور تحت حول الانسانية المفقودة كلها مواصفات سودواية لكنها واقعيةو هذه الصفات بدء العالم يأخذ خطوات واسعة بإتجاهها

Sara Nasr

عزيزتي آّنا بلوم.. وصَلني خطابك كاملا..ولكن.. لماذا الآن.. لماذا زرتني الآن تحديدا يا آنّا ؟! كان من الممكن أن أتأخر عنك قليلا، حتى لا أرى كل هذا العدم.. تضخم الأنا.. مظاهر الحيوانية، واختفاء كل ما هو إنساني أو أخلاقي.. أظنني زرت بلادك -"بلاد الأشياء الأخيرة"- من قبل في روايتَي جوزيه ساراماغو (العمى).. و١٩٨٤ لـ(جورج أورويل) .. أو في "بلادنــا" ! ولكن تفاصيل خطابك كانت أكثرا بهاءً و جمالا.. التفاصيل ! عالم من الجنون وسحق الذات، التمحور حول الأنا، محاولة النجاة بنفسك، بروحك فقط، أن تعيش حياتك كمحطات تحاول الاستناد على أي "شئ" إنساني تتكئ عليه، ولكن سرعان ما تفقده سريعا، يتسرب بين يديك فلا تجد طائلا من البحث عنه واسترجاعه، هنا سرقة الجثث، حرق الكتب للتدفئة، سحق الأرواح حتى دون قتلها، هنا رائحة الموت. والفقد ..والمرض.. والعزلة.. والظلمة ..هنا مدينة الموت والجنون.. مدينة النهايات.. هنا الحياة -على حقيقتها - كما نرواغها ونظن بأبديتها.. كلنا الآن يزور بلادك يا (آنا).. لكننا لم نمتلك روحك لنكتب خطابا، كنتُ أبحث عن روحك وأتشبثُ بها حتى لا أموت انكماشا وأنا بين أزقة هذه البلاد الضيقة.. اعتبريني صديقتك، وامنحيني بعضا من روحك الجميلة هناك.. في بلاد الأشياء الأخيرة....أسلوب (أوستر) ساحر جدا، سلاسة اللغة، وعمق الفكرة، أعترف أني مللت في الصفحات الأولى للكتاب، ولكن تسارعت أنفاسي وأنا اركض خلف الأحداث من منتصف الرواية، بعض الأفكار التي عرضها راقت لي عن الذاكرة، والنسيان، والكتابة، والنهايات..الرواية كئيبة جدا جميلة جدا القراءة الأولي لبول أوستر، وليست الأخيرة :)

Brian

I have friends who, when entering my library for the first time, see my collection of Auster novels and say, "Oh my God! You read Auster!" I have other friends who, when entering my library for the first time, see my collection of Auster novels and say, "Oh my God! You read Auster!?" One way spoken in surprise and delight, the other in surprise and derision. Yes, Auster polarizes.And I get why people don't like him. Many of his novels have a self-referential shtick that I can see as being off-putting to some readers. I once had dinner with a friend in L.A., a card carrying Austerhater, and I was trying to convince him of the merits of Leviathan. I kept coming at him in different ways, trying to sell my way around his objections, but no sale. At one point he actually said, "If you don't stop talking about that shit book I won't tell you about an amazing book I've just finished that I was going to recommend to you." This friend, despite his Auster issues, has really good recommendations (this is years before GR, mind you, his influence is waning thanks to my new chums) - I took the bait, dropped the Auster pitch and received the recommendation for The Fortress of Solitude. I was never going to convince this friend of Auster's merits, so I consider it a good trade. But after having completed this beautiful and haunting novel, I will go to the mat for Auster on this one. A fully imagined vision of hell, ItCoLT is a meticulously and beautifully written book of a dystopian country that is only a few shades of horrible away from life on any of Earth's locales. Auster's use of the first person narrator (penning her thoughts to a family she may never see again) leading the reader through a tale of horror in a nameless country works. We are invested in Anna Blume from the opening pages. Good and evil, right and wrong - they are worthless considerations in a land where humanity is an anachronism. Huxley opined, "Maybe this planet is another planet's hell." Auster takes that premise to the next place, our hell, and creates a setting that is so clear, so horrible, one can't help but feel like one's been there after reading Anna Blume's missive.I'm going to buy another copy of this book and give it to my Auster hating friend for his birthday. If he doesn't like it, I will revoke his literary friend status.

Nuska

No conocía la faceta austeriana capaz de escribir sobre infiernos futuros. Como la mayoría de novelas de ciencia ficción que hablan sobre distopías, lleva nuestra actitud con el mundo y las cosas que nos rodean hasta sus últimas consecuencias. El resultado es escalofriante. Me ha gustado la idea de que muchos de los personajes tengan algún tipo de problema con su capacidad comunicativa, tanto por exceso (Boris), como por defecto (Isabel). La capacidad de comunicación entre los seres humanos es casi una obsesión para muchos grandes escritores y es algo que se plasma en las páginas de este libro. No es mi Auster preferido pero ha sido una lectura interesante.

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