There's not much I can tell you about this book. Jorge Luis Borges (to whom the novella is dedicated) in his prologue said that "To classify it as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole." A mere 94 pages of story, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it when I came to the end, but by now I've read it about two and a half times, and I find it hard to argue with Borges' judgement.
The story begins thus:
Today, on this island, a miracle happened: summer came ahead of time, I moved my bed out by the swimming pool, but then, because it was impossible to sleep, I stayed in the water for a long time. The heat was so intense that after I had been out of the pool for only two or three minutes I was already bathed in perspiration again. As day was breaking, I awoke to the sound of a phonograph record. Afraid to go back to the museum to get my things, I ran away down through the ravine. Now I am in the lowlands at the southern part of the island, where the aquatic plants grow, where mosquitoes torment me, where I find myself waist-deep in dirty streams of sea water. And, what is worse, I realize that there was no need to run away at all. Those people did not come here on my account; I believe they did not even see me. But here I am, without provisions, trapped in the smallest, least habitable part of the island — the marshes that the sea floods each week.
I am writing this to leave a record of the adverse miracle. If I am not drowned or killed trying to escape in the next few days, I hope to write two books. I shall entitle them Apology for Survivors and Tribute to Malthus. My books will expose the men who violate the sanctity of forests and deserts; I intend to show that the world is an implacable hell for fugitives, that its efficient police forces, its documents, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and border patrols have made every error of justice irreparable. So far I have written only this one page; yesterday I had no inkling of what was going to happen. There are so many things to do on this lonely island! The trees that grow here have such hard wood! And when I see a bird in flight I realize the vastness of the spaces all around me!
We don't really know what the narrator is doing on this island, but it soon becomes a love story, and then it's a mystery, and, well, I can't say much more. It's a slim novella, and the titular invention doesn't take hold (or at least become clear as having taken hold) till about half way through, but it's full of mood and mystery and musings on consciousness and the soul. And time. And memory. Love. Immortality.
Being a loyal watcher of Lost, I delighted in finding similarities between the TV show and this novella, and I couldn't help but read for clues to Lost's resolution. I'm fairly certain there is no answer to be found in these pages, but it's fun to draw parallels and theorize about the outcomes, to revel in the interconnectedness.