BOOKS: Anti-Gravity

Devices Despite its charm, a novel about a levitating boy still sinks

PAUL AUSTER, 47, HAS won a cult following in the U.S. and occasional best- seller status in Europe by playing new tricks with established literary forms. He mixes some of the experimental whimsy of a Borges or a Calvino with the narrative drive that made old-fashioned stories so appealing in the first place. When he riffs on detective fiction, for example, as he does in the novels that constitute his New York Trilogy -- City of Glass (1985), Ghosts and The Locked Room (both 1986) -- he sees to it that readers craving mystery, as well as or instead of Postmodernist...