“The Invalid” is an autobiographical account of one American novelist’s reading Proust over the course of his life. After the initial impact of encountering Remembrance of Things Past as a young soldier in 1968 Germany, he is forced to wonder: Did Proust bring the novel to an end? Could there be an American equivalent to his novel? And why among writers is there a saying, “If you want to write like Proust, don’t write like Proust”? Searching for the key to Proust’s achievement, the author realizes that over the years he has possibly read more about Proust than he has Proust. And yet, as an invalid himself toward the end of his life, he can only conclude that the novel is inimitable.