Flying with Walt the Wonder Boy

1001 Books Sorry for being so behind. I have felt the transition from summer to fall in a big way. My husband’s job has gotten insanely busy, my job has gotten insanely busy, it has gotten cool enough for me to run again without excuses, my daughter–now in school 5 days and with babysitters a lot at night–understandably wants my attention when she can get it, and then there are the Jewish holidays. So reading hasn’t entirely taken a back seat, but it has at least moved to the passenger side of the car. And typing about reading has definitely, if not been kicked to the curb, at least been thrown in the trunk. I will try to remedy that in the next few days. I finished Mr. Vertigo over a week ago, and it was great. I’ll give you that review now. I also listened to Being Dead, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner from a few years back, while commuting to and running the Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Sunday. It was also a great book, but I’m not sure I am going to get that review written tonight.

Here is what I had to say on Goodreads about Mr. Vertigo:

Mr VertigoMr Vertigo by Paul Auster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pushing eighteen by the time I caught up with him. I’d grown to my full height of five feet five and a half inches, and Roosevelt’s inauguration was just two months away. Bootleggers were still in business, but with Prohibition about to give up the ghost, they were selling off their last bits of stock and exploring new lines of crooked investment. That’s how I found my uncle. Once I realized that Hoover was going to be thrown out, I started knocking on the door of every rum-runner I could find. Slim was just the sort to latch onto a dead-end operation like illegal booze, and the odds were that if he’d begged someone for a job, he would have done it close to home.

I am a big fan of Paul Auster, and Mr. Vertigo was the delight I hoped for. I actually listened to this one on audio, and the narration by Kevin Pariseau is marvelous. The book is the tale of a St. Louis street kid, nominally being raised by an uncle whose idea of raising a kid is beating him a lot, who is offered a chance to “learn to fly” by a mysterious man who approaches him out of the blue one day. The story follows Walter Clairborne Rawley as he learns from Master Yehudi and becomes “Walt the Wonderboy.” Their fortunes rise and fall with the those of the era–the 1920s and 30s, and in the course of his time with Master Yehudi, Walt grows and changes from a bigoted and defensive kid, to someone much more complex. As their fortunes shift, we watch the choices Walt makes, for better and for worse, driven by dreams, loyalty, revenge, and desperation. This is a hard book to describe. It is about so many things. But I can tell you this, by the end of the novel, you may secretly believe that people can, under just the right circumstances, fly.

View all my reviews

Things are getting a little desperate for the July to September scorecard. I may not quite make it….

  • Orange July 1 2 3
  • Around the World: Africa: 1, 2 Asia 1 South America 1 2 3 4 5 6 Other countries 1 2 3 4
  • 1001 Books 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
  • Nobel: July Aug Sept
  • Pulitzer: July Aug Sept
  • Great African Reads: July Aug Sept

About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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