cover image Moon Palace

Moon Palace

Paul Auster, Author Viking Books $18.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-82509-7

The moon as a poetic and planetary influence over earthly affairs runs as a theme, wittily ransacked, throughout this elegant fiction by award-winning novelist and poet Auster ( The New York Trilogy ; The Invention of Solitude ). Marco Fogg is a loner and a dreamer, whose ``mind is on the moon,'' and who in a state of elation unfolds moonlore to his friends. The year of the moon landing finds Fogg living in spartan reclusivity until forced from his New York apartment to roam as a Central Park vagrant. His rescue by Kitty Wu, a gentle Chinese girl, leads to their poignant and tenuous love. Like some of Auster's earlier protagonists, Fogg senses he has a kindred, submerged or vanished other self. Here, it is Fogg's father, who went into eclipse before his birth; the quest for the parent forms a narrative thread. When Fogg serves as reader/companion to the elderly cripple Barber, aka ``Effing,'' who recounts his adventures in a Western wilderness where he buried a cache of paintings, Fogg's fate takes an unexpected turn. Auster's highly literate tale teases the boundaries between fiction and actuality while exploring the process of writing itself. (Mar.)