cover image Neon Lit: City of Glass

Neon Lit: City of Glass

Paul Auster, Art Spiegelman, Paul Karasik. Harper Perennial, $12.5 (129pp) ISBN 978-0-380-77108-0

Auster's acclaimed novel City of Glass , a dreamlike meditation on language and fiction in the form of a detective novel, has been translated into comics form to stunning effect. And while Karasik's faithful adaptation of Auster's crisp prose partially obscures its author's sly allusions to the act of writing itself, Mazzuchelli's black-and-white illustrations capture and expand on Auster's precise documentation of place, psychological development and pedagogical improvisation with unusual style, simplicity and graphic facility. This combination story, lecture and literary deconstruction begins when New York City detective novelist Daniel Quinn answers a wrong number. Donning the personas of both the detective he created and his own creator, Auster himself, Quinn attempts to protect a young man, who as a child was kept without light or language for nine years as his lunatic academic father tried to discover ``God's Language.'' In Quinn, the roles of fictional detective and creator/novelist are interchangeable; and the processes by which these two carry out their investigative work--the fanatical collection of random detail, obsessive observation and recording, and an almost monastic introspection--serve as sublime indications of the serendipitous mix of chance, language and invention at root of the art of fiction. This is a masterful addition to the growing library of serious comics works. (Aug.)