Home All 2017 Popular Book Lists

Auster Paul (2017 Most Popular Book Lists)

$15.00
1. Sunset Park: A Novel
$7.00
2. Invisible (Rough Cut)
$18.53
3. The New York Trilogy (Green Integer)
$7.00
4. The Brooklyn Follies: A Novel
$6.33
5. The Music of Chance
$5.60
6. Mr. Vertigo
$7.18
7. The Invention of Solitude
$0.01
8. Man in the Dark: A Novel
$7.90
9. Collected Prose: Autobiographical
$4.34
10. Leviathan (Contemporary American
$8.42
11. Moon Palace (Contemporary American
$1.60
12. Timbuktu: A Novel
$1.32
13. Collected Poems
$7.80
14. City of Glass (The New York Trilogy,
$3.96
15. Timbuktu: A Novel
$8.44
16. In the Country of Last Things
$7.45
17. Oracle Night: A Novel
$4.99
18. The Book of Illusions: A Novel
$2.99
19. Ghosts (New York Trilogy)
$5.63
20. The Red Notebook: True Stories

2017 buy books shipping

1. Sunset Park: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-11-09)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.00
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0805092862
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****

Luminous, passionate, expansive, an emotional tour de force

Sunset Park follows the hopes and fears of a cast of unforgettable characters brought together by the mysterious Miles Heller during the dark months of the 2008 economic collapse.

An enigmatic young man employed as a trash-out worker in southern Florida obsessively photographing thousands of abandoned objects left behind by the evicted families.

A group of young people squatting in an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The Hospital for Broken Things, which specializes in repairing the artifacts of a vanished world.

William Wyler's 1946 classic The Best Years of Our Lives.

A celebrated actress preparing to return to Broadway.

An independent publisher desperately trying to save his business and his marriage.

These are just some of the elements Auster magically weaves together in this immensely moving novel about contemporary America and its ghosts. Sunset Park is a surprising departure that confirms Paul Auster as one of our greatest living writers.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Auster in top form
Reading a Paul Auster novel is something like listening to a well-orchestrated , multi-layered musical composition where certain melodies and motifs recur with substantial elaboration and variation.He is one of our very best writers and his newest, Sunset Park, like many of his books, reflects back to us a great deal about how we live today.It is "up-to-the-moment" current, the protagonist, Miles Heller, being employed by a South Florida realty company (for part of the novel) as a "trash-out" worker who cleans out repossessed homes that are usually left in awful shape by their former inhabitants. Miles has a somewhat fetishistic compulsion to photograph the forgotten possessions, the abandoned things that have been left behind, and his large collection of digital photos of these objects comprise one of the many lists of contemporary artifacts that Auster constructs throughout the book.It includes pictures of "books, shoes, and oil paintings, pianos and toasters, dolls, tea sets and dirty socks, televisions and board games, party dresses and tennis racquets, sofas, silk lingerie, caulking guns, thumbtacks, plastic action figures, tubes of lipstick, rifles, discolored mattresses, knives and forks, poker chips, a stamp collection, and a dead canary lying at the bottom of its cage."

Miles is 28 years old, and one day while sitting on the grass in a public park, reading The Great Gatsby (one of many iconic American cultural landmarks referenced in the book) he meets Pilar Sanchez, who happens to be reading the same novel.That bond connects them immediately, but there's one hitch to that connection.Pilar, though lovely, smart, and irresistible, is seventeen years old. That doesn't slow down Miles at all; he falls deeply in love with her.Both have experienced deep tragedies in their lives;Miles' older brother Bobby was accidently killed by a car when Miles shoved him into the road while the two were walking together.Pilar's parents were both killed in an auto accident as well.She lives with her three sisters, one of whom tries to blackmail Milesinto giving her some of themerchandise he gathers from repossessed houses. She threatens to call the police and tell them he is committing statutory rape with her sister regularly.

The plot, as they say, thickens.Miles returns to the Sunset Park in Brooklyn where he lived some time ago before becoming estranged from his father and stepmother. Because he is without a regular job and intends to return to Florida after Pilar turns eighteen, he moves in with some friends who are "squatting" in a condemned building in the area: Bing Nathan, Alice Bergstrom, Ellen Brice and Jake Baum, and the remainder of the book is about the intersecting relationships between these five people, as well as Miles' lingering resentments regarding his parents and stepmother.You will notice virtually all the characters have names that evoke various American figures, both fictional and real.And in addition, additional American motifs that touch down again and again in the bookinclude Miles' fascination with baseball lore, particularly Herb Score, the Cleveland Indian left hander whose career was shattered with Yankee shortsop Gil MacDougald hit a line drive that shattered multiple bones in his face, and Mark "the Bird" Fydrich, the Detroit Tiger 1976 Rookie of the Year pitcher who became famous for his virtually perpetual motion on the mound.

Then there are continuing references to a classic American film of the late 40s, The Best Years of our Lives, because one of Miles' housemates, Alice, is writing a PhD dissertation on the film.The film's ironic title and many of its remarkably delineated details,resonates as Miles and his friends struggle to live the "best years oftheir lives" in what are the worst years of the life of their country,As another great novelist wrote in another great tale of two cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."While the novel's ending seems hurried and somewhat inconclusive, you can chalk up another brilliant performance by Auster and you will not want to miss this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable (and that's the problem)!
Auster has written a book set in today that he apparently wishes he'd been around to write thirty-five years ago. Unfortunately, there is no story and way too many people have already tried to write this one.

Some misfits decide to have an illegal sit-in in the form of a live-in. Auster's hero, Miles, has an under aged teeny-bopper girlfriend. Miles' roommates don't have a moral bone among them; so they say nothing. Poor babies are just not able to fit into the world. So, let's keep them breaking the law. Boo-hoo.

All that's missing is "turn on, tune in, drop out". And, Auster's socio/politico jabs are so hackneyed they would make newscasters cringe. Worse, they add absolutely nothing to what little story there already is.

The ending is way, way too unbelievable and contrived. Unfortunately, to describe it, I'd have to add a spoiler - and I won't do that. Unless you are collecting Auster books for your shelves, there's no reason to read this one.

Having read and enjoyed most of Auster's books, I'm trying to decide why he wrote this one (other than the first sentence of my review). Hopefully, he has set free whatever he had stuck in his craw.

3-0 out of 5 stars sex, baseball and a movie
an easily readable novel, a sketch of selected aspects of our time told in simple prose, the first part anyway, when the main character, a drifter in his late 20s, is in florida.the work he does is called `trashing out', the cleaning and repairing of vacated houses from foreclosures and bankruptcies. a bad turn of events and he has to leave south florida.he heads back to new york city, the bourough of brooklyn, and becomes a squatter with three other characters in their 20s in sunset park.the moral of the story is that anyone can be homeless in the first decade of the twenty first century.miles heller is a nice enough guy, he has a passion for reading and baseball.the reader gets to know quite a lot about the pitcher's curse through baseball anecdotes and statistics. baseball, miles believes, is a universe as large as life itself.Sunset Park tries too hard to live up to that statement.unfortunately, mr auster treats most of his story as a series of anecdotes and hidden statistics to create conclusions based on opinions the author holds.

there are a couple of characters in their 20s having sexual activities with underage teenagers, and we get to learn that one overweight character did not have his first sexual experience until the late age of 20.one wonders if 20 is late for an overweight unattractive person, what would be a late age for a slender attractive person?18 maybe? another character, 16, tells her older partner she won't have sexual activity in the `mommy hole', only the `funny hole', an activity they do almost daily. surrounding these illegal sexual encounters, are anecdotes of characters dying in accidents and by suicide in their teens and their 20s.the message seems clear: gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

along with the homeless moral, there's the moral of woundedness.one person's wound is pretty much the same as another person's wound.a war wound isn't worth any more sympathy than a baseball accident wound.a teenager writes an essay about a wounded black man and in the paper the white protagonist is also wounded.if you're scratching your head about this inclusion of the racial other as wounded, rest assured there are a couple of anecdotes to counter the inclusion of victimization, a mention of the biracial president of the united states, and a brief observation of the main character kissing and expressing other forms of affection with a black woman. just an anecdote, she's never mentioned again.

nor are there any actual war wounded.men and women in the military are treated less marginally than blacks.a graduate student is writing her dissertation on william wyler's film The Best Years of Our Lives, a film she speaks about to other characters.at least one other character is thinking about the film without her knowledge.how's that for coincidence?

despite all the filler, the story does include good scenes about prodigal sons and the family left behind and the son's return.and auster shows his strengths when describing relationships between fathers and sons.

one character works for the writers' organizationp.e.n.there is description of the situation of liu xiaobo, the latest winner of nobel peace prize, a timely inclusion.but even mr and mrs xiaobo aren't spared anecdotal treatment.a character wonders if mr xiaobo got to kiss his wife when she visited him in detainment.after all, the main character got to kiss a black woman, and twenty year olds got to, at least, kiss underaged teenagers on the sly.akiss may not be too much to ask for, but i believe the xiaobos would rather have mr xiaobo free.

this is the first game i've seen paul auster play.i never heard of him before Invisible.he's been to the mound 16 previous times, not counting books of non-fiction.and he undoubtedly has a fan base.maybe this is his work at its best.i certainly hope not.i want to believe sunset park finds him in a slump.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fine Departure
Auster populates his books with Brooklynites, for the most part.For me he has become the chronicler of that Borough, bringing it immediately to life.You stand behind them in the delis, pass them on the streets, see them in cafes.These are real New Yorkers, real inhabitants of a real place, not the idealized performers on the stage of the iconic City or nostalgic creations of another favorite New Yorker, Pete Hammill.These are character studies of people living actual life.Although these stories could play themselves out anywhere, it is New York's effect that is incalculable to the total effect.

Since Brooklyn is Auster's stomping ground, he can write confidently about its neighborhoods and people with authenticity.Into this departure from his trademark chromium clarity, Auster has written a more commercial novel, weaving into it elements that obviously mean a lot to him (no surprise that he, as well as Hammill, is a true baseball nerd).

For a book so much about life and love, there is a preponderance of material about death.Almost every character's life has been irredemiably altered by a traumatic loss.Also, this is yet another book about publishing and the double whammy of economic upheaval and digital revolution.This is the third book about this dilemma I've read in ;the past few weeks, so much that it seems to be creating its own niche in the genre comprised of books about dealing with the new economic order.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Auster
Paul Auster might be described as the man who gave postmodernism a human face. His books are typically nests of stories within stories, bizarre, fascinating, amusing, held together with an intricate plot device that may relate to other art forms (THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS) or fold back on itself as a self-referential commentary on the art of writing (INVISIBLE). But they are always human at their core, containing flawed but likeable characters who, generally, progress from near despair to some kind of resolution. This book, however, is the straightest, least postmodern work that Auster has written in some time; it is very easy to read, and any braininess is little more than surface decoration. But I feel it lacks that special touch that keeps you fascinated as well as engaged; it does not hold tightly together and its overall trajectory is hugely disappointing.

The humanity at least you have; the characters are indeed likeable and indeed flawed. The central quartet are squatters in an abandoned house in Brooklyn. Lonely, overweight Bing Nathan runs a "Hospital for Broken Things" by day and plays in a funk jazz band most nights. Ellen Brice paints at-first-rather-sterile art and yearns for romance. Alice Bergstrom, who is working on her PhD dissertation on mid-forties American culture, has a boyfriend, though their relationship seems to be cooling. And Miles Heller, the latest arrival, is a brilliant college dropout in love with a Cuban-American high-school student in Florida, but has had to flee because of trouble with her family. Miles is clearly the protagonist of the story, and that is part of the trouble; almost two-thirds of the book are occupied by his story and those of his publisher father and actress mother, reducing the others to an awkward status, more than bit parts but less than leading players. But Miles' story is interesting, as we learn why he disappeared in his senior year at Brown, working in blue-collar jobs around the country and cutting himself off entirely from his parents.

Perhaps it is a postmodern device that Auster no sooner touches on a subject than he has to do a riff on it, displaying a dazzling array of factoid trivia. There is a detailed analysis of the William Wyler movie THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, and an examination of the cultural references in Beckett's play HAPPY DAYS. Lists abound: lists of forgotten baseball players, of recently-deceased authors, of junk items found in repossessed houses, of sexual combinations, of the joys of reunion with a loved one, of the projects undertaken by PEN International. Auster actually hits the jackpot with this one, as the subject of the case discussed in most detail, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, won the Nobel Peace Prize shortly before the book was released! All the same, all this information reads as filler for a novel that might have insufficient substance without it.

For most of the book, I was convinced that this was a four-star read, enjoyable enough but by no means the best Auster. Then I came to the final chapter, which delivers a nihilistic slap in the face. Yes, it might have been foreshadowed in those lists of baseball players. Yes, it might be the one postmodern touch in an otherwise straight novel. But it only made me want to throw down the book in disgust and wonder why I wasted my time on it. ... Read more


2. Invisible (Rough Cut)
by Paul Auster
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2009-10-27)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B0041T4S0E
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****

“One of America’s greatest novelists” dazzlingly reinvents the coming-of-age story in his most passionate and surprising book to date

Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster’s fifteenth novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girfriend, Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.

Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights, to the Left Bank of Paris, to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as “one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers.” 

... Read more

Customer Reviews (40)

3-0 out of 5 stars Form over Content
Auster has always been known as an "experimental" writer, however, in spite of his modernist approach to writing, he has managed to always come through with a compelling story. To my mind, in the case of "Invisible", Form has taken centre stage, and the content, the actual story, has gone by the way side.

There are no likable characters in this text. Despite being a true "page turner", for me at least, after reading the last paragraph, felt depressed, and somewhat cheated as a reader.

Auster's playful approach to this novel is really worthy of praise. He switches from the first person, the second person narrative and, in parts, the third person - executing the endeavour quite successfully.

The theme of "Invisible" or "moral" if you will, is how one anti-social individual can alter your life forever, sending you off on the wrong path - without you really being aware of the influence, hence, you discover one day that your life is not what you wanted or expected, sometimes with dire consequences.

A fan of Auster for many years now, "Invisible", for me at any rate, is not near his best work.

That said, Invisible is well worth a look at...

1-0 out of 5 stars Can I give it -0- stars?
What is it with these 60-something older men that they think they can write a smutty novel in the voice of a young twenty year old and get away with it? This book was painfully bad. The characters were so boring and one dimensional, you really wish they had all drowned in the swimming pool. I hope Auster snaps out of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best since "Invention of Solitude" by far...
I read James Wood's negative review of Auster and in many ways i had to agree. I bought "Invisible" anyway and unlike many Auster novels I either did not love, or did not half-way finish, I found this book engaging, fascinating, more straight forward and less "post modern" or silly than many others.

There is a flow of narrative that had little duplicity in it, though of course Auster being Auster, he switches narrators and brings the story through other characters since the main character is dying, then dead.

I didn't find one single Part 1,2,3,4 in the least boring and in fact forme, the plot held together as few of Auster's books do. I cannot quite get James Wood's parody of a review out of my mind. Why is this? Because his review of Auster's work in The New Yorker starts with "Invisible" which now strikes me as quite unfair. To the other novels, maybe this negativity can apply but not here.

My absolute favorite of Auster's book is the utterly beautiful "Invention of Solitude" which I've read many times. "Invisble is not up there with his non-fiction, but it is all plausible to me and I do not regret having spent 12 hours reading it. Never boring. Not cliched. A book Auster should rightly be proud of composing. Five stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another good novel from Paul Auster
I am a fan of Paul Auster and it's another good novel. Story could be little uncomfortable but he did it well once again. Charming and attractive story. Definitely worth to read if you like Paul Auster.

2-0 out of 5 stars Auster's Inertia
I've read all of Paul Auster's novels. The first few, with the exception of In the Country of Last Things, were very good, and the NY3 and Moon Palace were even great. Those books meant a lot to me. Auster had style; his books were cool. The themes, the plots, the characters were interesting; and he created his own sensibility as a writer. Leviathan was his last good novel. I put up with Mr. Vertigo. And then it was all down hill from there. He has not done a new thing since. It's the same book over and over again, a sad inertia of mannered writing that achieves nothing but a poor repackageing of the old (good) stuff, with the characters all now parodies of the early protagonists. How many times are we going to read about Columbia students from the sixties and/or existential avatars, living ghosts, men pushed against the wall of despair, etc.? With Auster, you get two characters, one like Quinn from City of Glass, or one like Fogg from Moon Palace, and then the same types of one-dimensional love interests or antagonists. Worse than that is that the last eight novels have all been devoid of profundity too. There's nothing new in them. Auster has nothing to say anymore. The only enjoyment I get out of these later novels (and I'll keep reading them) is to see how shamelessly he tries to rewrite the old stuff. Granted, Invisible wasn't as awful as some of the others (Man in the Dark and Travels in the Scriptorium were wretched), and thus I'll give it 2 stars, for it is a swift and engaging read. But seriously, if you've read the early novels I don't see how you can praise this book. It's just another Quinn/Fogg dealing with the same existential crisis in a less cool and less convincing and nourishing way--with some (rather hotly written) incest thrown in for insalubrious thrills. Come on, Paul, write us (your true fans) something new next time!

Of Invisible itself, a lot is made of the multiple narrators. Mutliple narrators? Really. Hmm, they all have the same voice ... how are they different. Oh, yeah, he uses first, second and third person for one of them. But, still, Adam, Jim and Cecile all have the same voice, the same tone. And of course the incest gets a lot of attention. Is it real or a fantasy? It's all fiction, so what does it matter? Ultimately, truth is what's invisible. Is there such a thing as a reliable narrator? Again, not a new literaty concept. Regardless, read the book, make up your own mind. This is only one man's opinion. ... Read more


3. The New York Trilogy (Green Integer)
by Paul Auster
Hardcover: 586 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.53
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1933382880
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****

Paul Auster’s great trilogy of 1985–1986 broke ground in its mix of serious fictional techniques and detective and mystery genres. Since that time it has become one of the most successful series of novels of the last decades, now republished in a beautiful cloth edition.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (101)

2-0 out of 5 stars Where's the mistery? Where's the thrill?
I was looking forward to reading this book once I saw the incredible comments about it: "brilliant", "amazing", "a dazzling achievement", "a new departure for the American novel". But what a waste of money... Not only was the book dull and obvious, but it was also pretentious. Do not expect to find anything similar to a mistery novel or even a detective story. It's about a writer (yes, so original) who clearly doesn't know what to do with his life. So, he decides that pretending to be a detective is a good way of spending his time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Freaky but good
Paul Auster can kind of creep me out but it's like a car accident that you just can't help slowing down to see.

1-0 out of 5 stars 89 cents less?
I just finished the first book of this series and enjoyed it. I wanted to get the other two, and thought the Kindle edition would be a nice way. $9.99 for it? A NEW paperback is 89 cents more. And I can give it to my mom/girlfriend/co-worker endless times...

Amazon, you need to fix this stupid pricing model.

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UPDATED:

Gosh, now that Penguin has gone batty, the $9.99 was a deal, hunh? I would have reviewed the book initially, but it took me a long time to track down a used paper copy.

For as much as I enjoyed City of Glass, the other two stories were a repetition of the same theme... I quickly grew tired of the "color" gimmick of Ghosts, and the story offered little else. The final story about Fanshawe might have been interesting, but it wasn't... it dragged on. And since the "point" of the story is the same as the first two stories, you're slogging through the writing to reach a place you've already been.

Each story trades on the tension that is created by your anticipation of what is going to happen... And then nothing does. It's brilliant once, but reading the entire trilogy is like going to a magic show where the magician does the same trick over and over again for two hours. It ceases to be entertaining.

I enjoyed the stories enough to read another Paul Auster at some point in the future... But since I do my reading on a Kindle and Penguin has decided they hate Kindle users, it will be only if I happen to stumble across one in a used book store. If I read a book I love, I usually read everything the author has... This was not a book I loved. This was a book that maybe kinda was good. I don't feel any need to run out and get 2 more books by Auster. There were things I liked about it, but the overall experience of reading this book is draining and dreary.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have skipped this entirely and gone with the Graphic Novel version of City of Glass.

2-0 out of 5 stars rather disappointing
Having read and immensely enjoyed Paul Auster's The Brooklyn Follies, and considering the almost uniformly positive reviews that The New York Trilogy gets from readers and critics alike, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. Auster just seems to try too hard here. The stories are surrealist, which I usually enjoy, but don't make any sense at all. You get to the end of each one and you think: "what was that all about?" (Yes, it is obviously possible that I just "don't get it," but neither might you...) There are occasional cross-references among the three stories, and even those don't make any sense in the context of each individual narrative. In my opinion the third entry in the book is almost salvageable, but even that one will likely disappoint the reader given the non-ending sort of ending. Paul, have you written something better lately? I know you have it in you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Search
I have read and greatly enjoyed four Paul Auster novels before these: THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS (2002), ORACLE NIGHT (2004), THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES (2005), and MAN IN THE DARK (2008). But they are all recent work. Had I started with the three novellas collected here as THE NEW YORK TRILOGY (1985-86), the first fiction published under Auster's own name, I think I would have been intrigued, a bit baffled, and certainly respectful, but probably not eagerly waiting for his next book as I am now. In the trilogy, Auster uses the device of the pulp-fiction detective story as a means of exploring deeper issues about identity and the Faustian bargains inherent in writing fiction. The approach works best, I think, where there is a balance between the popular medium and the serious message; the new Penguin Classics Deluxe edition with wonderful faux-distressed covers and title pages by Art Spiegelman plays so perfectly into the pulp genre that the fun carries the reader quite far into some of the more abstract passages -- far, but not all the way.

All the later Auster novels that I have read involve a central character, usually but not always a writer, who engages in some kind of search for meaning, involving himself in stories of one kind and another: dreams, memories, fantasies, or movie scenarios. A story-writer finding clarity by means of other stories -- no wonder Auster's work is often referred to as metafiction. But no cause for alarm; Auster is such a fabulous storyteller that even his slightest diversion becomes a delight. If his framing characters are sympathetic, as they mostly are in his later work, and their situation is believable, Auster's novels work perfectly on several levels simultaneously. But in the first two books at least in TRILOGY, he seems more interested in writing a novel of ideas, rather than giving those ideas a human handle.

All three books take place in New York, but only the first, CITY OF GLASS, is in any real sense tied to its setting. The protagonist here is another writer, Daniel Quinn, but he does not stick to that name. He has begun to think of himself as William Wilson, the pseudonym under which he writes detective stories, and when he receives a series of late night phone calls asking his help as head of the Paul Auster Detective Agency, he impersonates the unknown Auster. He sets off on a long surveillance of a madman who spends his days wandering the streets of the Upper West Side. Receiving little help from the real Paul Auster (whom he contacts later at his real address and meets his real wife and child), Quinn/Wilson must continue his search alone, finding a kind of spiritual nirvana even as his material existence deteriorates. It is a novel of interesting ideas, though carried by an unreal plot.

The middle novella, GHOSTS, is the most abstract and the least enjoyable. Again, it involves a private detective. This is Blue, engaged by a mysterious Mr. White to watch an equally mysterious man called Black, who lives in a Brooklyn apartment opposite the one that White has rented for Blue. Black appears to be some kind of writer, and most of the book consists of Blue watching Black write, while himself keeping notes on what he imagines Black might be writing. Of the three, this relates most clearly to the nature of fiction, but so artificial a concept can barely sustain even the 60 pages of its length.

However I really enjoyed the third novella, THE LOCKED ROOM, because its container story comes closest to being able to stand on its own. The central character, presumably Auster himself, finds himself appointed the literary executor of his childhood friend, Fanshawe, who has disappeared. He publishes Fanshawe's work, falls in love with his wife, and adopts his son, in a sequence of short chapters that sweeps the reader up in its romance. But the process makes him begin to doubt his own abilities and even his own identity as a person, leading him further and further from where he started. Although his situation is somewhat melodramatic, his feelings, whether as a man or artist, are all too real.

Many times I was reminded of a childhood favorite, G. K. Chesterton's detective fantasy nightmare THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY. If you enjoyed that, you will like the TRILOGY, and vice-versa. Otherwise, I would advise readers new to Auster to start with THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS or ORACLE NIGHT. ... Read more


4. The Brooklyn Follies: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 320 Pages (2009-10-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312429002
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****

Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, retired, estranged from his only daughter, the former life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Glass encounters his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, who is working in a local bookstore. Through Tom and his charismatic boss, Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances, which leads him to a reckoning with his past.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (99)

5-0 out of 5 stars A superb read
I am a recent fan of Auster and have now read a number of his books.Most are good to excellent, a few are disappointing (Travels In The Scriptorium comes to mind), but Brooklyn Follies is the best so far.

5-0 out of 5 stars The modern-day, sentimental novel Brooklyn deserves.
Paul Auster lives in Brooklyn, NY.He's written the modern-day, sentimental novel Brooklyn deserves.Sentimental isn't a word often associated with Auster.He's one of our nation's best literary writers.
He's totally eclectic & refuses to bend to the wind of whatever's popular.Sometimes, Auster is a writer of character-driven novels.At other times, he's a minimalist with graphic pictures forming more than coherent wholes.Or, he's a writer of strong plots or a writer of no plots at all or at least none the average reader can easily discern.If any one has read all of Auster's oeuvre, that person is a true reader.
Many of his books are not to sit down on lazy Sunday afternoon & veg out with.A reader must put in work to get pleasure & enjoyment & edification out of reading Auster.I can't claim to have read his entire output.It's too difficult, for me.But, I've read a sizable portion of it.
This title is one of my all-time favorite books by Auster.The lead character, Nathan, has moved to Brooklyn to die.He thinks he has a chronic disease.He has quit his job & his family has quit on him.He finds a long-lost nephew he once loved, who works in a bookstore.He becomes fast friends with the owner, who is a bit of a scam artist.
Nathan gets sucked back into the lives of the family he has left & his new found family & friends in Brooklyn.There are humorous criminal scams which fall apart but end up right side up because of Nathan's old work abilities.Love is bloomed& families are reunited & joy prevails & you finish this book with laugher & tears of happiness in your eyes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paul Auster creates characters that are real and likable
Well written and thoroughly engaging, this book is seemingly a light tale of romance and travel, but it got me thinking about age, forgiveness, rebellion above goodness, and how chance plays such an important role in our fortunes.

4-0 out of 5 stars "What a pity that life ends"
While enjoying the ease that came with reading this book I decided to look up online Paul Auster, the word crafter of the story between its covers.I found a youtube interview where Paul explained his style of writing.The author stated that he strives for "Clarity" in his writing.Clarity is exactly how I'd define the writing in this book.The story itself is nothing to rave over, but the way in which the author tells it is masterful.

I felt as if I were in the presence of a semantics surgeon and I could trust his every move.The author definitely knows how to tell a story and has the tools to deliver it to you in comprehensible language and thought.Other than a mother's questionable judgment of letting her young daughter travel alone, the story is believable enough.It was more fun though to suspend my own thoughts of what was real and let the author lead me down his corridors of life's many hotels.A fun book about relationships and circumstances that make life so pitiful and at the same time so alive. Check in and enjoy!

The author also treats readers to Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and his story of the lost doll.I'd never heard of the doll story until reading Brooklyn Follies.
2006 Faber and Faber edition

4-0 out of 5 stars Reasonably Good
I have only ever read Auster's New York Trilogy before this and it was such a good book that I had very high hopes for this one. Despite giving it an overall 4 star ranking, I can't help but feel this falls well short of that effort. While the narrative is well-written and I read the book in just about 24 hours, I can't help but think that this is going to fade from my memory in no time at all. The various follies are interesting, both in the book and in the book's book. But the intrigue that accompanied his other work was not there.

More than that, the happenstance of events became strangely mundane in that fact that the story read like an assortment of puzzle pieces being forced together by the author. While I didn't see where each piece would fit, they routinely kept squeezing themselves into spaces that were possibly forced, but more accurately described as seeking a place such that the story could be wrapped up by then end. Contrast this to the other work I have read from Auster and you start to see why I'm disappointed here.

So why 4 stars? The book reads well, Auster is good with words, I agree. And the intricate details of the various scenarios as they unfold in the book do hold interest for the reader. Many of them are believable and in some cases maybe even familiar. They are human in humanity's extreme sense. But humanity becomes too much, and the assortment of follies in one particular narrative starts to border on the absurd. I'm also somewhat unthrilled by the "happily ever after" ending which we saw coming from about page 2.

While I'm not going to say the book isn't worth the read, certainly start this author with another book. ... Read more


5. The Music of Chance
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 224 Pages (1991-12-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.33
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140154078
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
From one of America's most original and startlingly imaginative writers, a novel with "all the suspense and pace of a bestselling thriller."--The New York Times. A fireman and a gambler enter a poker game with two rich eccentrics, "risking everything on the single blind turn of a card." What results is the product of a world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

3-0 out of 5 stars Is this a social fable?
Having read almost all of Auster's novels, I find that their appeal often lies in the ideas they deal in rather than the plots, which are sometimes less than spectacular. But The Music of Chance is the opposite: a tight little plot, but a concept that, unless I have utterly missed the point, seems trite.

In the hope of avoiding spoilers, I can only say so much. But our two heroes find themselves the prisoners of richer men. Having lost at cards, they must work to redeem a debt. Note that the pair of rich men got their fortune through luck, at the lottery, and that the work they impose on their victims, virtually in prison-camp conditions, is pointless and exploitative. Is this a metaphor for capitalism? Are the heroes the exploited, left with no exit but to find satisfaction in work done, never able to save enough to achieve freedom, and prone to blow what they do accumulate on sex, alcohol, and other opiums? If this is what it is, then The Music of Chance seems no more than a rehashing of Marxist staples. If not, I don't know what the novel is supposed to be about; not chance, from the look of it. This is Auster: this is a good novel, especially the first few chapters. But could it be, shall we say, somewhat un-American?

3-0 out of 5 stars DOWNBEAT
Easy to read and well written book.

At times I felt sympathetic to the characters and suddenly they did something that disturbed me and made them seem alien. For example Nashe's hatred of the child left me cold.

This book was captivating but ultimately it left me with a sour taste as to the emptiness of it all.

A good read but a tad depressing - as if there's not enough misery in the world as it is.

5-0 out of 5 stars In my humble opinon, Austers finest book
It starts off fast,and hooks you from there. Our main character Nashe,picks upthe "Ratso Rizzi" character Pozzi,and things take off from there, mostly in a southernly direction. Austers themes of fate,chance and loyalty are a constant,and there are enough thoughtful twists and turns to make you remember this novel long after its been put down. Paul Austers finest novel,in my opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concretizing the metaphor
A friend spoke to me once of "concretizing the metaphor" when trying to write evocative and symbolically pregnant prose.Auster manages to do that very effectively in almost all of his works, and The Music of Chance is no exception.No one reading this work could help but be struck by the three cases of concrete metaphor on display here.The first is Stone's City of the World.The second is Flower's museum of unwanted objects, but the third and most compelling is surely The Wall.William Jennings Bryan once said, "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."Auster shows that choice, chance and destiny are not nearly the separate things that Bryan may imagine them to be.That it may be our choices that put us on destiny's path and that chance may play a role in us fullfilling our destiny, but also that it is our choice to be the victim of chance or the author of our own destiny.

1-0 out of 5 stars Literary Crap
I must be getting old.I have no patience for literary works of fiction anymore.They suck; they're slow and boring and so unentertaining that I want to throw them in the fireplace.What makes this one so bad is that I'm not sure its even literary.I've never read Auster before but got a recommendation to start with this one.It's hard to find any enjoyment in a novel where the main character runs away from society, is tasked to do a hard, endless job, doesn't accomplish it and then kills himself.Oops, I gave away the ending.Believe me, read this book and you'd wish the guy would have done it 100 pages ago and saved you all the trouble.It's not like you're going to learn anything about him, you or life in general--you're just going to be wasting your time.This one is a real stinker and it doesn't hold up over time. ... Read more


6. Mr. Vertigo
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 304 Pages (1995-08-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$5.60
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140231900
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
The author of Leviathan returns with a dazzling, picaresque, new novel in which Walter Claireborne Rawley, now an octogenarian, recounts his extraordinary vaudevillian adventures as "Walt the Wonder Boy" in 1924. "One hears every page of this novel, and sees it as well."--Washington Post. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressive and Memorable Read
I picked this book up in like new condition for $2 at a used book store.Didn't expect much.Let it sit on my shelf for a couple of years.This week I started reading it and pretty quickly got hooked with the story.It's Forrest Gump-esque in both the story and the delivery, quite outrageous for the most part.I laughed out loud reading (and I never do that!), especially the first two thirds of the book.The story darkens here and there but that's what you need for a good ride of a story.Treat yourself to this book, it's a quick and easy read and while not very thought provoking it does go after your feelings.I'd give it a 9 out of 10, rounding up here to 5 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars A spiritual journey for the soul of a nation.
From humble beginnings in the bowery of St. Louis, Walter Claireborn Rawley, aka Walt the Wonder Boy, lives an adventure that most boys could only dream about.After meeting the mysterious Master Yahudi, who promises to teach him the secret of levitation, Walt embarks on a rocky road to self awareness, as well as eyewitness to the unfolding of history.A makeshift family forms around Walt, his adopted brother Aesop, a brilliant Negro foundling, suffering from ricketts, but destined to greatness, Mother Sioux, the daughter of Sitting Bull and the last of the Oglala Sioux, Master Yahudi, a Hungarian Jew with a penchant for Spinoza, and Ms. Witherspoon, a fiery redhead with a passion for life.A grueling ordeal in rural Kansas eventually paves the way to the 1920's carnival circuit.As Walt's fame grows, so does his awareness that life is a series of chaotic and coincidental confluences.The arc of Walt's amazing life story, its ups and downs, mirrors the story of a nation struggling to be born and find its feet.Walt's run ins with the Ku Klux Klan, the Chicago mob, the vaudeville circuit, and his time as criminal, infantryman in Europe in WWII, construction contractor working on the building of Levittown, Chicago night club owner/empressario, confidante of Dizzy Dean, and eventually night janitor at the first coin operated Laundromat in Wichita, Kansas, effectively capture the promise, passion and pathos of an entire era in this nation's history. Mr. Vertigo stands as the testimony of a humble but perceptive eyewitness to the construction of the New Colossus that is, or was, America.

3-0 out of 5 stars I was *so* along for the ride...
This is the second Auster novel I've read. (Not true; 'Scriptorium' was unable to hold me past 40 pages.) And while there was a ton here to potentially captivate me, it didn't. Which, as a writer who loves a good premise made into an intoxicating reading experience, was disappointing.

I think that what most fudged things for me was the narrator's voice. That of someone looking back on his childhood. The words that ended up coming out of his 9 year old mouth were, often, painfully ill-chosen. That is, if he'd written it all as narrative, how he'd chosen to express things would have been fine. But on so many occasions, he has the words of a fifty year old man coming out of a child. Clearly, what's being presented is authentic in terms of how the narrator in his head remembers things...but that doesn't make for a good tale.

In fact, Auster took a very good tale...one that might have been as good as 'Kavalier and Clay' or 'Carter Beats the Devil'...and torpedoed it. That's not to say that there isn't a lot to like about this book. But a first-person narrator has to be a very good storyteller/writer in order for this 'effect' to work. And in this novel, he isn't. I believe the story would have been so much better told another way.

Never mind the fact that this isn't just one story, that in the end, it's the memoirs of a life. And so the effectiveness of the main thrust of the story...a boy who can fly...is reduced. Especially reduced by the narrator's voice.

Still, it had potential.

5-0 out of 5 stars He makes you care for fictional characters even when you know they are fictional
Auster is truly a remarkable writer. So much is improbable in this book, including the lead character.There are wildly improbable incidents , improbable meetings and connections. The question I asked myself as reader is 'How can I feel so much for characters who I do not believe in the reality of, for a single minute?"
Strange. Auster makes you care for fictional characters even when you know they are fictional. He makes you care for human relationships which are nothing like you have known in your ordinary life.
The whole story here of Mr. Yehudi the Hungarian Jewish wiseman and mentor, and the book's major character and teller, Walter Rawley, a St. Louis street scamp is one which verges on the absurd. They are going to make a fortune and Mr. Yehudi puts Walter through an incredible education in difficulties before this, through Walter's practicing levitation. The violence and imprisonment along the way are prelude to the romp of success through twenties and thirties American hinterland. But Rawley's life and adventure continue beyond his tragic parting from Mr. Yehudi and continue in a lively , adventurous way to the end.
What propels all this is the dynamic, down- to- earth, wildly metaphoric style of the narrator.
But what got me the most was the moving descriptions of the strong feelings the characters have for each other, the deep feeling and love which is so central to this work.
Familar themes of Auster, including imprisonment, and violent death play a considerable part in this work. I hate to read about such stuff.
But it is made up for by the relations , the love, the language, the life that moves through the whole book.
Auster is one of the best writers now working. And in this book he is very very good indeed.

1-0 out of 5 stars From a student's prospective...
I read this book the summer before my senior year of high school because it was an assigned reading.Put it this way:by your senior year,you don't like to read nonsense, and this book is pretty much nonsense.It's a complete waste of time.I don't want to read about some woman cleaning some kid's dirty bum with her bare hands.And YES, by "dirty bum" I mean she cleaned FECES of some kid's BEHIND, to put it softly.And the fact that the kid's dirty bum is a result of his fear of fast driving is just ridiculous.On top of that, Mr. Aster is trying to convince me that this kid who can't control his bowels can walk on air?No.


Do yourself a favor.There are like 10,000 other books that can be considered fantasies.Go pick up one of those. ... Read more


7. The Invention of Solitude
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 192 Pages (2007-01-30)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.18
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0143112228
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
"One day there is life . . . and then, suddenly, it happens there is death". So begins THE INVENTION OF SOLITUDE, Paul Auster's moving and personal meditation on fatherhood. After the death of his own father, Auster discovers a 60-year-old family murder mystery that could account for the old man's elusive character. Later the book shifts from Auster's identity as son to his own role as father.Amazon.com Review
Beginning with the deconstructed detective novels of theNew York Trilogy, Paul Auster has proved himself to be one of themost adventurous writers in contemporary fiction. In book after book,he seems compelled to reinvent his style from scratch. Yet he alwaysreturns to certain preoccupations--most notably, solitude andcoincidence--and these themes get a powerful workout in this earlymemoir. In the first half, "Portrait of an Invisible Man," Austercomes to terms with the death of his father, and as he investigatesthis elusive figure, he makes a rathershocking (and enlightening) discovery about his family's history. Thesecond half, "The Book of Memory," finds the author on more abstractground, toying with the entwined metaphors of coincidence,translation, solitude, and language. But here, too, theautobiographical element gives an extra kick to Auster's prose andkeeps him from sliding off into armchair aesthetics. An eloquent,mesmerizing book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and sad...
I actually read this book in the German version, and just like all of the Auster books I have read so far, I couldn't put it down... Auster writes incredibly beautiful and sensitive; sadness, desperation and confusion only make sense in his books... His books are an acquired taste; many of my friends just find them depressing...but what do they know... ;) I have read "everything Auster" so far, and I will continue to do so.

3-0 out of 5 stars two parts
i liked the first half of thebook better than the second.auster takes a while to get into imo.

5-0 out of 5 stars Self Portrait with Invisible Father
This is Auster's first non-fiction work, and when I first opened it, I was curious to see how it would differ from his very distinct voice in fiction. The answer, not a lot. In fact if I were told that this was yet another of his early short novels, I could easily believe it. Auster is often a character in his own fiction, protagonists share his name, his vocation, his hometown and his circumstances. Reviewers often note seemingly important correspondences between the names of wives and children in his novels and matchups to Auster's own life. For example, his first wife is named Sophie, his second Siri and he has a young son named Daniel, all names that frequently appear in his work.

In the first part of his debut work, Portrait of an Invisible Man, Auster tells the story of a writer, named Paul Auster, coming home to deal with the aftermath of his estranged father's death, who is also named Auster, a man barely present to his son throughout his life. "Invisible to others, and most likely invisible to himself as well". Paul Auster embarks on a reconstruction of his father's life from artifacts left behind after his sudden but quiet death, and in the process discovers a shocking family secret that may change his understanding of everything. The second part is called The Book of Memory and concerns many of the themes found in Auster's later works: the order of events, coincidence, the act of writing, absurdism and chance. It precedes The New York Trilogy by five years, but in the opening paragraphs one can already detect the latent forms that will fully emerge later, particularly in The Locked Room.

I found both of these works extremely moving and compelling. I also found myself musing on the difference between "the real Paul Auster" and the Paul Austers (or Peter Aarons, or A.'s, etc.) that appear in the pages of his novels. Is there a "real" Paul Auster? Do I know that one any better than the fictional ones? Does it make any difference? One thing I know for certain is that the more I read of Paul Auster, the more I realize that one can never truly be finished reading Auster. As soon as I complete one work and put it down, I want to pick it up again and continue the process.

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely one of his best
Having been, to some extent, in the same situation as Auster with relation to his father, I sympathize with him. What's more, I understand him. And his memories. His feeling of emptiness and sadness when he finds out that his father - who was never physically there - is gone spiritually too. It's one of his best, perhaps because it dealt with a personal theme of his life, and he didn't have to use the imagination so much...

I must sincerely say that this novel made me understand my father, and his 'absenteeism', much better. It provides a framework of memories, emotions, relics in which one can maneuver and come to realize that: we are all human, and we all need other human being, even if they have disappointed us, others, or people in general. Auster found that he had missed his father much more than he thought - he came to terms with what his father was and what he wasn't, and saw the world from his perspective.

It absolutely goes without saying that this book, this meditation on life, family, and the inevitability of the unknown is worth reading. Twice.

4-0 out of 5 stars the grammar of the world
"Portrait of an Invisible Man" starts as a reflection on the nature of life as an experience of solitude. Auster's father appears to have lived in a state of perpetual withdrawal from his self. It is for this reason that writing about him becomes eponymous with writing in an absurd world, after Becket. The task of writing has no ultimate goal; life itself is full of hollow spaces, so why would we want to transcribe it into a work of art? Why should Auster have wanted to write about his father who lived not a life inside himself? Why are we reading this book? Reading, writing and living are all part of the same ludicrous, meaningless wandering.

Fortunately, just before the hollow corridors of emptiness cease to reverberate there is something that captures our attention. A murder! One almost wants to thank Auster's grandmother for rescuing the narrative from its postmodernist drift into nothingness. And the author himself for allowing us to open his grandma's hidden trunk in the attic. Yet after this exciting brief interlude, Auster returns to muse over his father's quirks of personality, and the first section finishes.

"The Book of Memory" starts as a tract on writing: the craft of a man sitting alone in a room for long hours. Filling a room with thoughts is "real spiritual work", the result of an inner struggle in which the mind is made to conquer the dreariness of the surrounding world. It is also about finding oneself before looking for anything else.

The section is composed of various parts distinguished by different thematic links. We have the paragraphs on Memory and the reflections on Chance and assorted instalments on a number of family-related and other themes. Auster is making himself up as a writer, and trying to say something substantial about the workings of reality or European art at the same time.

To withdraw into a room does not mean that one has been madened. It is the room that restores the person, to health and to safety. The modern nothingness can be best confronted from a room or from a position of parenthood... The Book of Memory is concerned with the process of thinking, this is, with mind travel.

References to the Book of Jonah introduce the theme of sleep as "the ultimate withdrawal from the world." Is sleep an image of solitude? By eating him, the fish saves Jonah from drowning in the sea. The depth of the belly is the depth of silence, the refusal to hear and to speak. It is about seeking a separation even from the conversation with God. It is a death before a life that can speak. One learns to speak in solitude. But what is the purpose of speaking? A prophecy remains true when it isn't told. After that first silence one may die, and in death learn to speak. So that a book can be written, a book that will always be closed. ... Read more


8. Man in the Dark: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 192 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312428510
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year

"Man in the Dark is an undoubted pleasure to read. Auster really does possess the wand of the enchanter."--Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books

From a "literary original" (The Wall Street Journal) comes a book that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence. Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident at his daughter's house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget: his wife's recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter's boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill's story grows increasingly intense, and what he is desperately trying to avoid insists on being told.

 

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded The Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honors are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Médicis étranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance), and the Edgar Award (City of Glass). His work has been translated into thirty-five languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Longlisted for the International IMPAC Literary Award

A work of fiction with a dark political twist, Paul Auster's Man in the Dark speaks to the realities that America inhabits as wars flame around the world. Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget—his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts the story of his marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (66)

4-0 out of 5 stars Skillful prose almost makes up for lack of substance
Man in the Dark is interesting and elegantly written.Like most of Auster's characters, 72-year-old narrator August Brill is isolated:his mobility is limited by a recent traffic accident; his wife is dead; he has difficulty connecting with his daughter, whose husband left her, and his granddaughter, whose boyfriend was murdered.All the main characters are therefore working their way through pain.Particularly strong is the story Brill creates to fill his sleepless hours--the story of a writer who, in imagining a war, is making it happen.All of this is heavy stuff and yet, at the end, I was left with an "is that all there is?" feeling.I was hoping for a bit more substance to emerge from this thin novel.Still, I found it worth reading just for the enjoyment of Auster's prose:the writing is sharp and poignant, and that's enough to earn it 4 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unusual and enjoyable read
I begged an advanced copy of "Man in the Dark" off a Henry Holt rep at the NY Book Expo a couple of years ago.Finally plucked it from my bookshelf last week. What an interesting and enjoyable read."Enjoyable" seems somehow wrong since the book gets progressively darker but new information is constantly being revealed until everything makes sense.Auster's writing is very straightforward yet engaging.The first paragraph, the first lines grabbed me..."I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia..." and there we go along for the ride.

This book weaves a story the protagonist, August Brill, creates in his mind about a civil war in the U.S. post 2000 election, with the unfolding of why Brill and his two daughters are alone is this house, how they got there, and what pain they're trying to overcome.

I highly recommend this book. And after, perhaps work your way through Auster's entire work...he's an incredible writer.

Marie Estorge
author of STORKBITES: A MEMOIR
and CONFESSIONS OF A BI-POLAR MARDI GRAS QUEEN
[...]Storkbites: A Memoir

4-0 out of 5 stars Insomnia and its Creative Impact
Paul Auster is one author who excels in non-linear narratives and creating intratextual layers in his novels - which are nonetheless so well-woven that the reader is never left out in the cold. A word-magician who isn't out to confuse and dazzle his readers with his superb skills, but to provoke them to new levels of thinking and relating to text.

Man In The Dark, a slim novel that charts one sleepless night of a retired critic August Brill, moves into the realm of his imagination as he tries to flee his thoughts and memories by creating a story of a parallel America. Brill's protagonist is a young magician, Owen Brick who finds himself thrown into an America where 9-11 never happened but where America is at war with itself. Brick's story, its themes and action, arguably acts as a commentary on Brill's own, even as he avoids, and is then forced to confront it, as the night wears on.

When Brill weaves himself into Brick's story even as he narrates it through Auster's pen to us, there is a sense of dislocation from the reader. It's as if the layers of narrative are pushed up to the surface till it shares the same plane, and the fictional and real becomes blurred.

For such a complex narrative, Auster's writing is never opaque or annoyingly obtuse. Instead, the frequent dialogues and monologues move the stories along rather quickly. If there is one minor point of complaint, I was thrown by the abrupt way Brick's narrative was snuffed out, when Brick's and Brill's worlds were so close to colliding. But perhaps it was Auster's intention to remind the reader that the various levels of narratives had to remain separate and calm the disquiet of fiction taking over reality.

A supremely satisfying read.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Story Cut Short
August Brill, a retired critic whose life is left devastated after the death of his wife and the permanent injuries suffered in a car accident, is living out his remaining life in Vermont at his bitter and divorced daughter's home. Here he spends his days watching an endless stream of movies with his granddaughter - who is recovering from the death of her boyfriend - and his insomniatic nights inventing stories in his head to stave off the death he seems to crave.

The main story of this short novel is a little thin as we don't get that much development of the relationship with the daughter and though the occasionally discussion on classic movies with the granddaughter is an interesting side story, it is also ultimately lacking in depth.

Where this book (mostly) shines is in the story within a story concept of Brill's sleepless nights where he creates an alternative universe where civil war broke out after the 2000 election and 9/11 didn't happen. Yes, this setup is a little trite, but Brill's character of Owen Brick, who has been stolen from his own universe - the one that Brille lives in - and is transported to Brille's alternate universe where he his "recruited" by the Blue States for a special assignment that will bring the civil war to an end once and for all. The catch... it is back in his own universe and he must kill someone.

I tempted to reveal who he is supposed to kill because frankly it doesn't matter in the end. Why? Because Auster brings this particular story within a story to an abrupt and unsatisfying end about two-thirds into the book, after which the main story becomes a snore... literally for me at least.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

A Guide to my Book Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Story of Loss and Gain
Though this is a superb story, I though the characters spent an awful amount of time analyzing old movies and it detracted from this short book. I almost got the impression that Paul Auster had a good short story and he was sticking in filler. That said, it was a good and interesting story, but had I been reading and not listening to the audio book, I might have put it down and not picked it back up again.

If you go for the audio book, you'll find Mr. Austor's reading voice pleasant. He can read a good story.

This one is about an old man, close to death, that's the impression I got anyway. His name is August Brill and he is responsible for creating another dimension. You see, he makes up stories in his sleep and that's what other dimensions are, stories made up by people. So, I suppose, we're all living in a made up story as well. An interesting thought.

In the story Brill is imagining, Owen Brick, a man half Brill's age, is dragged into Brill's imagined dimension and is sent back with orders to kill the dimension's creator Brill in order to stop a war he's imagined. Brick is doomed to fail at his task, because of the kind of man he is and he is that way because Brill, a man who's failed at life, created him.

This is a story about love gained, love lost and gained again, tragedy and pain. heartache and more loss. If not for the many sidetracks, which I don't believe should have been there, this book would have been great, still it's very good. ... Read more


9. Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, Collaborations with Artists, and Interviews
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 608 Pages (2010-06-22)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$7.90
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312429924
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****

An updated edition with six new essays, including "An Evening at Shea" and "Remembering Beckett," as well as two long interviews from "one of America's greats" (Time Out Chicago)
 
The celebrated author of Invisible, The New York Trilogy, and The Book of Illusions presents a highly personal collection of essays, prefaces, true stories, autobiographical writings (including the seminal work The Invention of Solitude), and collaborations with artists, as well as occasional pieces written for magazines and newspapers. Ranging in subject from Sir Walter Raleigh to Kafka, Nathaniel Hawthorne to the high-wire artist Philippe Petit, conceptual artist Sophie Calle to Auster's own typewriter, the World Trade Center catastrophe to his beloved New York City itself, Collected Prose records the passions and insights of a writer who "will be remembered as one of the great writers of our time" (San Francisco Chronicle).
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars "I could not muster a single ennobling thought."
Auster is a writer of whose work I have read a fair amount. Over the years I've picked up one after another of his books, mostly his novels and I always really like them. I think that Moon Palace (Contemporary American Fiction) and The Brooklyn Follies have been my favorites to date. (I realize that this automatically disqualifies me as a serious fan, since his serious fans don't much like The Brooklyn Follies, but I think that it's both underrated and brilliant. So there.)

What do I like about him? The sense of context and history that he places around the personal moment is one big thing that I admire. He's better at that than nearly anyone. Whether that's the moment of joy with looming 9/11 as a backdrop, or whether its his characters' continual urge/effort (ultimately doomed) to separate and isolate themselves-- whatever the situation, he's somehow the writer who insists on the whole page. (Please note that this is different than using history as backdrop, something that I tend to dislike very much.) Other things that I like about him include his interest in coincidence and his love of mundane details, used appropriately.

Reading a selected prose collection of any author has its challenges-- depending on the author then what they decide to collect can range from the wonderful to the nearly unreadable. When I bought this volume, I was very curious exactly what would be included. Auster has done so much in his writing life-- criticism, translation, memoirs. They had, it seemed to me, a lot of material from which to choose.

And it is an interesting selection. The first part of the book was, for me, truly wonderful to read. The first 240 pages are taken up by the two memoir pieces, "The Invention of Solitude" and "Hand to Mouth". It is worth the money to buy this book simply to have both of these collected in one place.

It follows on with a series of True Stories, collaboration and essays of which my favorites were probably "The Death of Sir Walter Raleigh" and "Northern Lights". The True Stories are interesting as his interest in coincidence is put front and center.

The rest of the book is Critical Essays, Prefaces and Occasions. I enjoyed the critical essays, but found that I was really only able to get something out of the ones where I knew the writer or work in question. From the rest, I got good suggestions for further reading, which is a pretty good thing to get as well. I personally found the prefaces difficult to read, and I probably would not have chosen to collect them. It's too bad, because it meant that I was impatient and tired by the time that we got around to the Occasions, and many of them are really lovely-- full of sharp observations, well worth making. If I had to read it again, I would probably have skipped the Prefaces and gone straight to the Occasions. (Obviously, much depends on why you are reading the book.)

In short, I would think that any reader would get a lot from this collection. I suppose that it would add more depth if you were already familiar with Auster as a writer, but I think that a piece like "The Invention of Solitude" can easily stand on its own as a first reading experience.

Well bought and well read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compliments him work well

Prior to the publication of this book, I had read most of Auster's non-fiction work.However, it had been spaced out over many years.Now, having read all of it again over the course of a week or two, one gets an even clearer sense of the common themes and symbols that reappear through out Auster's fiction and non-fiction alike.I had the pleasure of seeing him speak at Pace University a few months ago, and he is always insistent that his fiction is strictly fiction, but regardless, the reader is able to see where certain ideas in his work had their beginnings in his life.Any true Auster fan will take great pleasure in this work as a companion to his other novels, and it will give you a deeper appreciation for his work.The first book, The Invention of Solitude, deals with the death of his father, and how, after his father's death, he struggled to have a sense of the man no one really knew during his own life."If it is true that we can ever come to know another human being, even to a small degree, it is only to the extent that he is willing to make himself known."The next book, Hand to Mouth, deals with his struggles early in life to become a writer.Then there are critical essays, true stories, prefaces, and random writings that he has amassed over the years.You get to see him grow over time, as a writer.The works are different enough, stylistically and content wise, that one doesn't get bored, even though the book is over five hundred pages.I'm glad that these works have finally been collected, and hopefully, more people will now dive into the unique world of Paul Auster.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well worth it...
...provides an unfiltered perspective, regardless of how similar it is to the common themes and philosophies embedded in much of Auster's work. If you enjoy his work, this collection will only complement your appreciation. ... Read more


10. Leviathan (Contemporary American Fiction)
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 274 Pages (1993-09-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.34
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140178139
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
When his closest friend, Benjamin Sachs, accidentally blows himself up on a Wisconsin road, Peter Aaron attempts to piece together the life that led to Sach's tragic demise and determine the reason for his death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another amazing Auster novel...
I read this booka few years ago, and I was deeply moved by the story of this boy. Highly recommend this book, although only to Auster readers who will be able to appreciate its real value...

5-0 out of 5 stars Great deal, trusted seller
Very good service, book was in fantastic condition.

My honest recommendation for this seller.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Hobbesian hero whose nemesis is the State
While much of this work is prosaic and biographical, the (mis)adventures of Benjamin Sachs did manage to keep my interest.The Phantom of Liberty is a compelling yet thinly sketched character.No doubt inspired by Ted Kaczynski or the Weathermen, he simultaneously holds out the promise of America as a shining beacon of liberty, and a failure to live up to that promise.It is disquieting to think of the activist liberal eschewing an endless empowering dialogue in favor of bomb making, and yet even when embracing violence as the only available recourse, the liberal still holds as a first principle "cruelty is the worst thing we do."Hence his dogged attempts to prevent anyone from actually being killed by his protest perfomance art.The only casualty is ultimately himself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Auster Is The Master Of Complexities and Ironies
I've said it many times before, but if you're not reading Paul Auster, you're really missing out.He's remarkably talented and his originality continues to impress me.

Leviathan literally means the biggest of its kind, and was also a sea monster from the Old Testament.Knowing such things illuminates Auster's reasoning behind titling his book as such.

In this tale, Peter Aaron's friend, Ben Sachs--a once-promising author--accidentally blows himself up along a rural road using a homemade bomb.Though it'd been years since Peter had communicated with his best-friend, he takes it upon himself to tell the story of how Ben had come to such an alarming and unusual end.Since Sachs had been working on an abandoned novel called Leviathan, Peter (and Auster) calls his book the same.Peter recounts his first meeting with Ben, and from there writes about their lives spent together and apart, along with all the friends and lovers that entered their lives and changed their fates with the smallest of intricacies and nuances.Peter hopes to finish his book and elucidate the public on Ben and his bomb-making before the Feds bring shame upon Sachs' name.

Though I didn't care for Leviathan as much as the other books I've read by Auster, I want to make it abundantly clear that I consider most of Auster's books to be without reproach.It's not that Leviathan wasn't a good read, it's that it wasn't AS good as Auster's other work; however, Auster's weaker writing is still far better than others' best.Leviathan was utterly interesting and a page-turner, but I didn't LOVE it like I do other Auster books.

Leviathan employs regular Auster themes such as isolation, the complexity of interpersonal relationships, and the desire to discard an identity and begin anew.Leviathan also focuses on the ironic intersections and coincidences in life, and Auster weaves and melds seemingly meaningless occurrences early in the novel into rather important plot devices all the way to the story's end.The three-fold meaning of the book's title alone illustrates the care Auster takes in layering his ironies.

So while Leviathan is a very good read by most standards, I wouldn't rate it among my top-tier Auster books.I'm glad I read it, though, and the story of Ben Sachs is one that, even days after finishing the book, still resonates.

~Scott William Foley, author of Souls Triumphant

5-0 out of 5 stars The evil in men
Paul Auster is a master on two aspects of writing: evolving characters on a seemingly normal environment and breaking the fourth wall. By fourth wall I mean the wall that separates readers from the world within a book, the characters knowledge that they are characters at all.

I have read this older book after reading more recent works like the Scriptorium, but Leviathan is a great place to start reading Auster or too feed the habit.

First, the title. Men indeed is what men must fear the most: the underlying message of the book is that, you get what you sow, the way you handle the world is the way the world will handle yourself.

Second, the characters: typical of Auster, you will love the characters, even though you wouldn't likely have them as friends on the real world.

And finally, the very last page of the book, for those who enjoy the fourth wall thing, is a delight. I challenge you not to flip pages back and see if, somehow, you missed some pages or not this time around.

Great read, as usual. ... Read more


11. Moon Palace (Contemporary American Fiction)
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 320 Pages (1990-04-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.42
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140115854
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
Against the mythical dreamscape of America, Auster brilliantly weaves the bizarre narrative of Marco Stanley Fogg, an orphan searching for love, his father, and the key to the riddle of his origin and fate. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (83)

5-0 out of 5 stars haunting
I don't have much to really say about Auster, as I don't really like to overanalyze to anyone but myself, but he's one of my favorite authors, and this is actually one of my favorite books of his.Well, almost all of them are my favorite books of his.

Auster has a fabulous way of leaving you feel at unease, unsettled, and almost always absolutely alone. This is a book of books, from MS's initials, to his uncle's gift, to his relationships almost always defined in some way by words, so if you like... stories that leave you basically feeling weird, Paul Auster's your dude, and this is a great novel to start with.

Basically, all these reviews sound like intense intellectual reviews, and I just figured people should realize that these books aren't just for people that sound like they write reviews and analyze things for a reason. Anyone can enjoy Auster and the significance of his writing, understand his themes (the quest for identity is one of the most common themes in just about anything) and storylines, and I hope my review helps people from getting scared off!One of my favorite things about Auster is the concise manner in which he writes, which can feel sterile at times, but makes the read a lot less intimidating.

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed
Has its witty and insightful elements, but far too much of the book is the main character hearing stories from other people. The tales themselves go on to long, are frequently somewhat uninteresting, and ultimately don't add up enough to enough to make the novel seem wortwhile. Small moments occasionally shine, but as a whole it's shot through with an omniprescent, increasingly forceful flaw.

Worse than: City of Glass by Paul Auster
Better than: Solar by Ian McEan

4-0 out of 5 stars the enigma of identity, fate, and rebirth
This is a deep philosophical and psychological novel whose journey gets the reader to question life.It took me a while to get into, but once I believed in the story, I simply couldn't put it down.

The story is narrated by a passive youth, who has apparently lost his entire family and is unable to process his grief.This leads to a terrible personal crisis and mental breakdown, leaving him homeless and completely vulnerable.With the help of friends, he slowly returns to life, exploring his feelings and the many mysteries of his past.As luck would have it, he meets a series of extraordinary people, all of who are closer to him than he could dare imagine.He falls for a lovely woman, Kitty, whose story is like his, and works for a difficult man who also serves as a mirror for his life.In spite of the strange coincidences, I found his journey entirely believable and psychologically real in the way that only art can accomplish.

Auster's style is a wonderfully playful experiment.The narrator often reveals what will happen, but continues on the journey as the most important part of his message.Though nothing much seems to be happening for large stretches, the boy is looking into himself as banal outer events push him to a flawed introspection. There are also many stories within the story, in particular the lives of the Barbers, but also Kitty's.While extremely disparate, they share common themes that link directly to the narrator's plight.

The ending is also a surprise.I took it optimistically as a yet another rebirth, if still with his awareness of terrible pain and bad luck.

Warmly recommended.This is an unusual novel that will grow in the imagination of the careful reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Of missing fathers... and some incredible coincidences...
Paul Auster remains one of the best and most essential of America's living novelists. His novels are rich and dense, set against historical backgrounds that display his erudition. Unlike, say E. L. Doctorow (who I also like and admire), he does not play loose with the historical facts. He reserves the improbable for his own characters, as they move back and forth against this real backdrop, and I'm OK with that, and I can suspend the annoyance some reviewers felt, since Auster delights with the strange twists and turns in the plot.

In "Moon Palace," the principal character, "M.S." Fogg is my coeval, as well as the author's, so the time period resonates; Fogg attends Cubs baseball games when Ernie Banks played shortstop, and later was at Columbia U. during "the events" of the `60's. After graduating from Columbia, Fogg deliberately goes "down and out," and portions are no doubt inspired by Auster's life, based on the author's own autobiography, "Hand to Mouth." Fogg's recovery begins with his discovery by an old college friend, and his one love, a Chinese-American woman, Kitty Wu, and moves on through his employment, with Thomas Effing, a curmudgeonly old man on the edge of death, who is trying to "tidy up his affairs," as well as complete the historical record on his life before the ultimate appointment comes. This is when the plot becomes truly interesting, with Auster taking some wonderful twists, and even a few swoons.

The geographical backdrop is mostly NYC, as well as the "Four Corners" area of the American West, highlighting Bluff, Utah, of all places. There are also forays to Europe and the American Mid-West. Historically, Auster weaves Nikola Tesla (and his battles with Thomas Edison over the correct form of current - AC or DC), Thomas Moran (the painter who accompanied John Wesley Powell on the first exploratory trip of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon), and the moon landing of 1969. As a fitting reflection of the title, Auster inserts, and puns on various references to the moon throughout the book.

In terms of thoughts, and pyrotechnic displays of prose writing, there are ample ones to retain. Consider: "All children are love children," he said, "but only the best ones are ever called that." Or: "He was alone now, entirely separate from everyone; a bulbous, egg-shaped monad plodding through the shambles of his consciousness." And as a fitting summation of the book, as well as many a life: "That's what the story boils down to, I think. A series of lost chances. All the pieces were there from the beginning, but no one knew how to put them together."

I do have a slight preference for his weirdly wonderful "New York Trilogy," but this book is also a solid 5-stars.

As a final thought on being a coeval, Auster writes: "It was the summer that men first walked on the moon. I was very young back then, but I did not believe there would ever be a future." Talk about resonating. When man first walked on the moon, I was sleeping every night in a bunker 13 km to the east of An Khe, in Vietnam's Central highlands, and the future was equally uncertain. Auster recovered from "down and out," and I survived an equally uncertain period.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Adventures of Marco Stanley Fogg
The story of Marco Stanley Fogg begins in 1969 at the time America first landed men on the moon.As it turns out the moon is an apt metaphor.Just as the sun, according to a certain character in the novel, is a symbol of the past, the moon represents the future.Little by little Marco comes to learn about his past, which helps to guide him into an often rocky future. Marco never knew his father and just assumes he is dead.This is what everyone leads him to believe.Marco loses his mother early on due to a tragic bus accident.He is then raised by his uncle, Victor, a clarinet player who often was unlucky keeping employment.After his loving uncle dies, Marco is left with his uncle's book collection.Packed in boxes, Marco uses the boxes as make shift furniture, on which he chooses to dine and to sleep.

Eventually Marco is forced to deal with homelessness.New York's Central Park for a while acts as Marco's shelter, until he is rescued by his friend, Zimmer, and by the young and beautiful, Kitty Wu, who by and by becomes his lover.A good part of the book, concerns Marco's obtaining employment as a live-in caretaker of Thomas Effing, a wealthy, but blind, cantankerous, and eccentric old man.At first Marco feels trapped and cursed by this seemingly horrible job.Marco and Effing, a name which humorously proves to be somewhat of a pun,create a symbiotic and caring relationship.Marco learns quite a bit of Effing's past. This serves Marco in good stead in learning about his own background.

Much of _Moon Palace_ is about survival and that caring for others is just one way of learning how to care for yourself. Mr. Auster uses a conversational, and often humorous, but never less than serious means of relating his interrelated stories.People who often seem like "freaks" on the surface turn out to be individuals with real depth and humanity.While the plot sometimes strains credibility, Marco Fogg, despite his loneliness and many disappointments in his still young life, discovers to his great surprise that he never, in reality, lacked a family. ... Read more


12. Timbuktu: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 192 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$1.60
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312428944
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Editorial Review

*****



Mr. Bones, the canine hero of Paul Auster's astonishing book, is the sidekick and confidant of Willy G. Christmas, a brilliant and troubled homeless man from Brooklyn. As Willy's body slowly expires, he sets off with Mr. Bones for Baltimore in search of his high-school English teacher and a new home for his companion. Mr. Bones is our witness during their journey, and out of his thoughts Paul Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in recent American fiction.
... Read more

13. Collected Poems
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 206 Pages (2007-06-26)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$1.32
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 1585679119
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
Paul Auster's penetrating and charged verse resembles little else in recent American poetry. Taut, densely lyrical, and everywhere informed by a powerful and subtle music, this collection begins with the compact fragments of Spokes and Unearth (both writtenwhen Auster was in his early twenties), continues on through the more ample meditations of "Wall Writing," "Disappearances," "Effigies," "Fragments From the Cold," "Facing the Music" and "White Spaces," then moves further back in time to include Auster's revealing translations of many of the French poets who influenced his own writing--including Paul Eluard, Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara, Philippe Soupault, Robert Desnos, and Rene Char--as well as the provocative and previously unpublished "Notes From a Composition Book" (1967). An introduction by Normal Finkelstein connects the biographical elements to a consideration of the work and takes in Auster's early literary and philosophical influences.Penetrating, lyric, and tempered with the same brooding intelligence that informs The New York Trilogy, these poems offer a unique window into postmodern consciousness. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Auster as a poet
Paul Auster has been one of my favorites for quite a while.I have read all he has written.Now this book of poems which span several years is a truly wonderful addition to his opera.I recommend it to anyone who wants to be challenged and anyone who is moved by poetry from the heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars Austere Auster
I've enjoyed all that I've read of Paul Auster's fiction and essays, so I was eager to delve into his poetry.Not surprisingly to anyone whose read his prose, much of Auster's poetry focuses on the landscape of chance.The drifts of collected coincidence within the stochastic that culminate in meaning.It's the struggle to resist chance without embrcing fate.All the while, one feels from Auster a desperate desire to stand outside it all, though he is acutely aware of the paradox within that desire.It is the abstract laboring to be concrete.Shrodinger's Poet.

"Collected Poems" starts with poetry from the early seventies, when Auster was in his early twenties.They are bleak and gloomy in tone and yet do have a lyrical musical tone that creates some forward momentum.They made me think of some of the kids I knew in college, the front-row philosophy majors that were a little lost in their own heads.

From 1970's "Spoke," (11):

To see is this other torture, atoned for
In the pain of being seen: the spoken,
The seen, contained in the refusal
To speak, and the seed of a single voice,
Buried in a random stone.
My lies have never belonged to me.


We then move forward in time to the mid and late seventies, weightier ruminations such as "Disappearances," "Fragments from Cold," and "Facing the Music."

From "Fragments from Cold:"

Because we go blind
in the day that goes out with us,
and because we have seen out breath
cloud
the mirror of air;
the eye of the air will open
on nothing but the word
we renounce: winter
will have been a place
of ripeness.

We who become the dead
ofanother life than ours.


We then step back in time and read some of Auster's translations of the French poets who were his early influences.Then some unpublished "Notes From a Composition Book" from 1967, a succession of statements attempting to construct a philosophy on reality, epistemology, the nature of language, art, and so on.For example, number 10:"The eye sees the world in flux.The word is an attempt to arrest the flow, to stabilize it.And yet we persist in trying to translate experience in language.Hence poetry, hence the utterances of daily life.This is the faith that prevents universal despair- and also causes it."It ends on number 13, with the conclusion that if words fail him, he is nothing.

A little self-indulgent and pretentious at times, but that goes with the territory.Overall much of it is beautiful writing and all of it is well worth reading.This early work also functions as the back-story, helping me appreciate Auster's prose in a deeper way.

Recommended, thumbs up, if you are an Auster fan it should be mandatory.
... Read more


14. City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, Vol 1)
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 208 Pages (1987-04-07)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.80
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140097317
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
A mystery writer assumes a detective's identity and embarks on a bizzare case: he must protect a man from his criminally insane father, and as he follows the elusive criminal, he embarks on a mission that takes him to the depths of his own soul. Auster's In the Country of Last Things is being published this month by Viking. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's a weird book
The product itself was in great shape, came in timely, etc etc. I had to have this for class and it was perfect. Didn't realize that it was such a weird story though- I've never encountered meta-fiction before, so it came as a pleasant surprise. Recommended for people who have a whole lot of time on their hands and a bit of extra cash.

5-0 out of 5 stars Textured Look At Identity
It's hard to categorize City Of Glass. As the first novel in Auster's New York Trilogy , it certainly has inspired me to read on. Paul Austercreated a finely layeredstory of a writer struggling to reestablish his somewhat shattered life who takes on the identity of an investigator as a result of a random phone call intended for someone else resulting from crossed wires.Meanwhile the subject of the investigation is a writer who is so deep in his quest to understand the true human language and the fundamental meaning of words that he in essence is insane. Add to this some fine prose and comparisons to Cervantes and Don Quixote and what you have is 150 pages of splendid thought provoking reading. As these characters wander about the streets of New York , the city itself seems to be the only solid element and the protagenist Quinn seems to be most grounded in his own being when he describes the minute details of the street scenes he observes in his meanderings about Manhattan.

Before this I had read Auster's Brooklyn Follies and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see some of the ideas that were incorporated and developed in that novel in more raw form here.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Anti-Detective Novel: The Failure of Analysis
First of all, judging from some of the reviews posted here, I think many people have no idea what it is they are getting into here.This is not your garden variety page turner.This is philosophy, or theory, encased in the genre trappings of a mystery novel.If you want a thrilling "whodunit", you are bound to be disappointed.If you are patient and open minded and enjoyed the subtext in books like "The Name of the Rose", however, you will most certainly be rewarded.It's not your typical visceral "thriller" experience.The action happens in the mind of the reader as the novel unfolds.It's a treatise on the failure, and futility, of the search for self and a meditation on the indirect and approximate nature of language.

If this all sounds sort of meta-textual and postmodern to you, you would be right. But having said that, this novel is not at all inaccessible.If you want the same thing delivered as a nearly impenetrable cryptic riddle, I suggest perhaps something by Borges or Pynchon.The beauty of Auster's work here is that it is impelled forward by the weight of the narrative while still maintaining a very profound intellectual heft (absent in most beach-read genre staples).

I really feel Auster has done something quite amazing here, both in terms of the book itself and in the larger context of literature as a whole.If academics weren't so mired in political in-fighting and books were judged on their qualities alone, then certainly Paul Auster's "New York Trilogy" would be considered a classic and taught in school's fifty years from now -- long after the Kellermans, the Pattersons, and the Graftons of this world are long forgotten.

My only caveat with this particular edition is this:Though each book of the "New York Trilogy" stands on its own ("City of Glass" is book one of the trilogy), the trilogy itself really comprises just one book.This isn't a "Jaws" and a "Jaws II" type of deal -- there is a synergy to the trio.My recommendation is that you buy the "New York Trilogy" as one book -- a single edition -- and then read it as such.

5-0 out of 5 stars "My name is Paul Auster. That is not my real name." (review of a reread)
Some years ago, I burned myself out on Auster. I read one book, Moon Palace and then I started reading his work compulsively-- ripping through everything that I could find. It was sort of like eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for three months. Very satisfying, but quite difficult to look at the jar after that. And then I left him alone. I ignored newly released books. I wanted nothing more to do with the man.

Then this year I picked up and read a copy of his Collected Prose. And I was doomed. I've started reading everything that I can get my hands on. And re-reading.

The New York Trilogy was one of the first things that I read by Auster, and one of the most dearly beloved. Rereading City of Glass was an interesting experience. I wondered whether I would find the same things moving, whether I would still like it as much. I knew that my reading experience would be affected by Auster discussing why he had written the book in his collected prose.

In the end, I found that my own experience of grief/tragedy deepened my connection with Quinn. His need to find threads in the seemingly random is something that I understand better now-- it added some holdfasts to the text that I had lacked before.

It remains a great book.

Why read it if you haven't already? Detectives, writers, identities, loss, intrigue, mistakes, death, sex and consequences. (Putting these things in a line gives the wrong impression, but read it all the same.)

I'm curious whether I'll burn myself out again on Auster a second time.

2-0 out of 5 stars Fuzzy
It started really well.Auster seemed to be saying something about identity with his writer character who seemed to have merged into his pen namesake who might have merged into his detective creation and is called to service under the name of Paul Auster.

The first 50 or so pages, despite Peter's overlong monologue, show that the writer has talent.

The story seems to get lost in a maze of literary/historical allusions and side bars such as the detail on the wanderings of Stillman senior.

There are a number of plot weaknesses, such as the detective work starting at Grand Central Station (and not Stillman's releasing institution) and continuing to the likelihood of only one Paul Auster in the NYC phone book and the lack of follow up on Mrs. Stillman's kiss.

Perhaps there are answers in volumes 2 and 3 of the trilogy, but there is little here to provoke me to read them. ... Read more


15. Timbuktu: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 192 Pages (2000-05-01)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$3.96
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312263996
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
Mr. Bones, the canine hero of Paul Auster's astonishing new book, is the sidekick and confidant of Willy G. Christmas, a brilliant and troubled homeless man from Brooklyn. As Willy's body slowly expires, he sets off with Mr. Bones for Baltimore in search of his high school English teacher and a new home for his companion. Mr. Bones is our witness during their journey, and out of his thoughts, Paul Auster has spun one of the richest, most compelling tales in American fiction.
Amazon.com Review
In Timbuktu Paul Auster tackles homelessness in Americausing a dog as his point-of-view character. Strange as the premiseseems, it's been done before, in John Berger's King,and it actually works. Filtering the homeless experience through therelentlessly unsentimental eye of a dog, both writers avoid miringtheir tales in an excess of melodrama. Whereas Berger's book skipsamong several characters, Timbuktu remains tightly focused onjust two: Mr. Bones, "a mutt of no particular worth or distinction,"and his master, Willy G. Christmas, a middle-aged schizophrenic whohas been on the streets since the death of his mother four yearsbefore. The novel begins with Willy and Mr. Bones in Baltimoresearching for a former high school English teacher who had encouragedthe teenage Willy's writerly aspirations. Now Willy is dying andanxious to find a home for both his dog and the multitude ofmanuscripts he has stashed in a Greyhound bus terminal. "Willy hadwritten the last sentence he would ever write, and there were no morethan a few ticks left in the clock. The words in the locker were allhe had to show for himself. If the words vanished, it would be as ifhe had never lived."

Paul Auster is a cerebral writer, preferringto get to his reader's gut through the brain. When Willy dies, he goesout on a sea of words; as for Mr. Bones, this is a dog who can thinkabout metaphysical issues such as the afterlife--referred to by Willyas "Timbuktu":

What if no pets were allowed? It didn'tseem possible, and yet Mr. Bones had lived long enough to know thatanything was possible, that impossible things happened all thetime. Perhaps this was one of them, and in that perhaps hung athousand dreads and agonies, an unthinkable horror that gripped himevery time he thought about it.
Once Willy dies andMr. Bones is on his own, things go from bad to worse as the nowmasterless dog faces a series of betrayals, rejections, anddisappointments.By stepping inside a dog's skin, Auster is able tocomment on human cruelties and infrequent kindnesses from a uniqueworld view. But reader be warned: the world in Timbuktu is ableak one, and even the occasional moments of grace are shortlived. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (118)

4-0 out of 5 stars Me and Mr. Bones, Mr. Bones...Got a Thing Goin' On
Having only read one other book by Paul Auster, "In the Country of Last Things", I can't really say how it stacks up against his other writings other than that I like "Timbuktu" better than "Country". They are two entirely different stories and my bias is purely personal.
Mr. Bones and his master, Willy are a pair of rambling hoboes most of the time and both seem to get a kick out of this lifestyle. Willy's equally rambling soliloquies on the nature of materialism and how it affects the psyche are interesting at first but grow a bit tiresome after several pages of it. Through it all, Mr. Bones listens respectfully because he loves Willy and as long as Willy is talking, Mr. Bones knows he is still alive. (Willy is dying of an unnamed disease, probably emphyszema). Willy has a plan for Mr. Bones' care after he himself passes on to Timbuktu (his version of the afterlife) but these plans fall through and the poor dog finds himself on his own.
There are nuggets of wisdom laced with sly humor, such as: "...The more wretched your life was, the closer you were to the truth, to the gritty nub of existence, and what could be more terrible than losing your old man six weeks after your twelfth birthday? It marked you as a tragic figure, disqualified you from the rat race of vain hopes and sentimental illusions, bestowed on you an aura of legitimate suffering..." and several laugh-out-loud moments, such as this gem of a description of a toddler named Tiger: "...Mr. Bones had been watching Tiger entertain himself by kicking a beach ball across the lawn. Each time it squirted away from him, he would run after it at top speed, looking like a demented soccer player in pursuit of a ball twice his size..."
I love the writing itself, as you can see. Mr. Bones captured my full attention. Auster has written a rather tragi-comic and unsentimental (not that there's anything wrong with sentimentalism) tale about a pair of misfits in this big, bad world, and I knew just such a pair in my hometown of Atlanta. A homeless man named Ted pulled the same ruse with his dog as Willy pulled with Mr. Bones: passing himself off as blind and the dog as a guide dog just so they could ride the subway together. Just reading about that brought back fond memories of the two.
If you are an Auster fan then I guess you might be disappointed in this book. But if you want to read a surprisingly touching and philosophical story about man and dog that just happens to be brilliantly written, then please don't pass this one by.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Characters
I loved this book.Auster's language and delivery is superb.It has been years since I have read it, but I still think about it all the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book for a Dog-Lover!
Oh, this was such a good book. All told through a dog's perspective - and it reminded me so much of my poor, poor Buns... the way the dog told the story was very nicely done. And the picture looks so much like Buns too... I just miss him so much. But it was a happy story too... I am just so sad.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Dog Alone Is No Better Than A Dead Dog
"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace." Milan Kundera

Willy G. Christmas has spent his summers wondering the continent with his dog, Mr. Bones. But now Willy is dying and Mr. Bones is contemplating his existence. Mr. Bones knows "a dog alone is no better than a dead dog" and is dreading the fact that once Willy is no longer at his side, "the world itself will cease to exist".

I adore this book. The characterization is wonderful. I love Mr. Bones. I identified with his struggles to make it without his master-his feelings of loneliness, his confusion. Timbuktu is told from Mr. Bones point of view which allows this story to raise questions about existentialism as well as distinctions between metonymy (the animal standing for the human) and metaphor (the animal likened to the human). This book was so emotionally moving, it's been hard for me to analyze it critically. I was entirely lost in Auster's prose and the emotions I felt for Mr. Bones and with Mr. Bones. Timbuktu is just a very good story.

I'm suprised by the bad reviews of this book. Yes, Timbuktu is short. But there are only so many scenarios that can develop in the human-centered life of a dog. The experience of a dog is somewhat limited by the world people give them. Dogs rarely decide where they want to go. Dogs don't get to choose what they eat, where they live or who adopts them. A dog can only shape his destiny in one way-Mr. Bones eloquently and heart breakingly demonstrates this painful truth at the end of Auster's novel.

One of my favourite books of all time. Michael Vick should be made to read this book every day in prison. Very highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars mr bones oh my word
What do you get when you read a Paul Auster book? Prose to die for, great character studies and a plot line which causes a dilemma, as you want to read on but then you don't want the book to end. With Timbuktu you get all of the above. Even though the narrator is a dog called Mr. Bones, you become attached to him and through him his master Willy G Christmas (read the book to see why). Auster gives us in this short novel all that humanity desires, love, friendship and happiness. Genius. ... Read more


16. In the Country of Last Things
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 208 Pages (1988-05-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0140097058
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
Here is the story of Anna Blume, a woman who has come to an unnamed city in search of her brother. Her notebook recounts her quest in this cruel modern landscape, and through her anguished narrative, Auster presents a frightening vision of the future. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars Abstracted Benevolence
I've waffled between three and four stars for this book, and I've ultimately decided on very nearly four stars. This was my virgin voyage into the literature of Paul Auster, who came highly recommended as an unfairly overlooked genius in the world of novels. The post-apocalyptic theme of The Country of Last Things intrigued me, as I've recently read two other books in the genre.
There is some excellent prose here, and that is what kept me going. This is a dismal tale yet somehow did not feel as dismal as it should have. Anna Blume's journey into this unnamed and awful city to search for her brother reminds me of something I might have done at her age (19). There is something medieval about the constant and desperate bartering/trading/selling yet totally modern in the disposal/use of dead bodies (fuel). Anna 's quest for survival in a world where everyone and everything is dwindling away into a shell of the past seems hopeless. In many ways it is not so different from our current times. Auster's story has stripped everyone down to survivalist mode and so the true characters of folks are exposed. There are madness and mayhem and touching moments of humanity.
I felt a bit detached from the story and was unable to become fully engaged with any of the characters. Perhaps this was Auster's intent, as the characters themselves had to become detached from the horror around them in order to survive. In any case, it is an easy, fast and intelligent read which may give you pause to consider what really is or is not important in the big scheme of things. On this note, I do recommend it.
P.S. The title for my review is taken from this line on page 40 of the novel: "...He made me think of my grandfather: overworked,...exuding an air of abstracted benevolence that seemed tinged with cunning, a pleasantness that masked some secret edge of cruelty...".

4-0 out of 5 stars Horror tale with a twist
In the Country of Last Things is pure allegory, but such is the force of Auster's writing that the reader is prepared to suspend disbelief.

It is a unique characteristic of the industrial world that none of us has a complete vision of how it works, and it is easy to imagine that what we don't understand, let alone control, could suddenly cease to function; Auster plays on this basic fear to weave a morbid, often horrific tale.

The heroine, in search of her brother, finds herself trapped in a city that we recognise as having once been 20th century American, but has now become a crucible of destitution, savagery, and violent struggle for survival. This grim novella describes a society which has ceased creating or even producing, and is thus reduced to consuming what is left... until that runs out. It holds a mirror to our own compulsory consumption, waste and greed, and it forces us to consider the actual value of modern material comfort. It also lets Auster exploit on a grander scale his pet themes of decay and degradation, of homelessness and its impact on identity.

Post-modern decay apparently isn't pretty. It is a place of book burners and ghouls, of cannibals and suicidal fanatics, of pathetic attachment to the most miserable objects, and of general disregard for human life and dignity, even if hope and love aren't entirely missing. But it makes for a fascinating read, one that it is difficult to complete in anything but a single, mesmerising sitting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Austere Auster As Always
Mr. Rogers never lived in Auster's neighborhoods. This dystopian tale of an unidentified city falling apart and reverting to anarchy will leave you shivering. We don't know if this societal breakdown is really a world wide phenomenon or if it only affects this one city.

My enjoyment was from the people, and their means of coping with continuing worsening of conditions. Nothing ever got better yet some still clung to hopes that tomorrow would be brighter; while others had totally given up.

Auster wants you to have to think while reading his books and they are short enough for you to maintain your concentration. This was quite enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Power of Hope
Paul Auster presents us with yet another must-read.This novella takes place in an unnamed city that has suffered complete ruin.There is no consistent government to speak of and anarchy rules supreme.But, the fascinating premise is that this is not a world problem, this is a city problem.It is a land cutoff from the world, and the world seems to have forgotten about it.Sound familiar?(Keep in mind this book was first published in 1987.)However, newspapers are still trying to get the scoop on what's going on, and so reporters are occasionally sent in, though most never return.

One such reporter who never returned left behind a younger sister who has traveled to the country of last things in order to find him.From a privileged family, it takes her a surprisingly short amount of time to adapt to the horrific conditions under which she must survive.She is primarily the narrator of her story, and we follow her as she experiences tragedy, death, suffering, but also, as impossible as it may seem, love and hope.

I've heard this book is about everything that can go wrong in a society and how it can leave the reader with a sense of despondency; however, I found the book to be a testament to the power of hope and love.

To touch upon Auster's style: I've read many of Auster's books, and while he explores similar themes, I've never read two books that were written in the same manner.Auster gives us something fresh and artistically progressive with each book he writes.In the Country of Last Things is virtually a how-to for any budding writer as it uses sparse detail and very limited dialogue to completely drive home the potency of the theme.

I've yet to read a book I did not like from Paul Auster, and In the Country of Last Things is certainly no exception.

~Scott William Foley, author of Souls Triumphant

3-0 out of 5 stars Setting Trumps Character and Plot
The setting provides some wonderfully lurid details in Paul Auster's futuristic narrative and will keep readers turning the pages of his dystopian novel, but the so-so character development of IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS ultimately prevents this echo of Orwell from receiving the 4 stars it flirts with.There's no question that Auster is creative and compelling in describing a city gone mad with hunger, crime, and want, but once you go beyond the protagonist Anna Blume, you run into characters who are poorly developed and of little interest to the reader.

One of the book's strengths is in describing the futuristic world.It is powered by factories that burn human waste and human cadavers for energy needs, for starters.The streets are wild and dangerous, as scavengers battle over food and objects.Rife with corruption, citizens wheel and deal under a police state that often looks the other way as they break the "law."Beyond hope, many citizens choose death in interesting ways.The Leapers jump off of building roofs.The Runners run themselves into a frenzy until they collapse dead on the streets. And the Assassinators stalk people who want to die at an unknown time by an unknown method, so pay the assassinators to perform the function.

This setting and these conditions provide momentum for the book's plot as anything can happen.The "country" of the title, then, is the book's greatest strength.Unfortunately, the episodic nature of the plot sometimes gives the book a disjointed feel as characters come and go so quickly that there is little allegiance to or feeling for them on the part of the reader.Also, Auster is not above throwing in a little gratuitous sex, even when it adds nothing to the plot or the characters involved.

Despite these drawbacks, the book was intriguing in its way and should satisfy fans of dystopian fiction.I read it in a day, and although I was happy to witness Auster's artistry in creating so bleak and bizarre a world, I was just as happy to leave it and move on.For fans of the genre, this book should prove satisfying.For fans of literature, it should prove interesting, if sometimes lacking, in its ambition and reach. ... Read more


17. Oracle Night: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 256 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.45
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312428952
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****


Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, thirty-four-year-old novelist Sidney Orr enters a stationery shop in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, trapped inside a world of eerie premonitions and bewildering events that threaten to destroy his marriage and undermine his faith in reality. 

A novel that expands to fill volumes in the reader’s mind, Oracle Night is a beautifully constructed meditation on time, love, storytelling, and the imagination by "one of the great writers of our time" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Amazon.com Review
In Oracle Night, Paul Auster returns to one of his favorite themes: writing about writers and the act of writing. Recovering from a severe illness that has left him weak and prone to nosebleeds, struggling novelist Sidney Orr takes the suggestion of his mentor, the acclaimed novelist John Trause, and begins a story about a man who, upon considering a near-death experience as an omen (or excuse), walks out on his wife and begins a new life. Nick Bowen, Orr's protagonist, moves to Kansas City and finds work with a man engaged in creating a sort of catalogue of all known persons from a warehouse filled with phonebooks. Dressed in Goodwill clothing, Nick finds it "fitting to don the wardrobe of a man who has likewise ceased to exist--as if that double negation made the erasure of his past more thorough, more permanent." Grace, however, acts strangely soon after Sidney begins the "novel-within-a-novel" in a mysterious blue notebook.

Auster uses footnotes to provide interesting backstory and develops Sidney's insecurities regarding love and fidelity, but when Sidney hits a patchy spot and writes Bowen into a corner, he (and Auster) shrugs and drops the story. The mystery that seemingly unrelated coincidences may have a causal connection is left unresolved, and Trause's delinquent son shows up to facilitate a hollow, climactic ending. Auster is a gifted writer, to be sure, but once trapped by the inner story, Oracle Night loses steam. --Michael Ferch ... Read more

Customer Reviews (93)

4-0 out of 5 stars easy read, serious fiction
As I read this book, I thought about writing a review.Through much of the book, I was in my usual "half star" mode...thinking it was 4.5 stars...not QUITE a five star but still a great read.Auster lost me (and the half star) towards the end...the final parts just felt dashed together, like he needed to solve the problem of ending the book and was just looking for a way out.In context, that has a bit of interest in itself, but it still let me down.

However, ending aside, I did very much enjoy this book.It is a book about books and about reality and the construction thereof.It carried me through quickly...I wanted to slow down but found myself pulled quickly forward.The narrator is a writer who is recovering from an illness and looking at his own life at the same time as he composes a story and also visits the stories of others.The long footnotes reminded me of reading Nicholson Baker in college...though that's too long ago to make more than a cursory comparison.

Definitely recommend it as an easy read but still intelligent and serious fiction.Quick to read but with a good bit of thought embedded in it.Good for fellow former English majors.

4-0 out of 5 stars The fragility of life, the power of words, and the blue notebook
I like stories about writers doing writerly things because even though I know the writer is a character, you get to see the author writing the character who's a writer and is writing, and so gain an insight into that particular author's writing process. You know what I mean. "Oracle Night" is about a writer just like "City of Glass" is about a writer and like that book, "Oracle Night" is a pretty darn good yarn.

The story switches from the story of the main character as he recovers from his near-fatal accident and tells us about his world, and the book that he's writing which is an extrapolation of an incident that took place in Dashiel Hammett's novel "The Maltese Falcon". Both stories are compelling but about halfway through the book, the narrator and main character Sidney Orr, decides to drop the novel he's writing as he's hit a wall in the plot (just like in real life) and his life becomes the focus of the rest of the book. Some people didn't like the way Orr's novel broke off and was never picked up again but I think the way he ends it is symbolic of the way the rest of the story plays out and is a good choice by Auster.

We get a more in depth look at Orr's world, about his wife Grace, about his friend the famous writer John Trause who's dying, and about other characters Orr meets, Chang the stationary shop owner and Trause's junkie son Jacob. Orr makes up stories for them, giving Chang a brutal past of book burning and beatings as he imagines Chang being a part of Mao's China and playing a role in the "cultural revolution" of China. His wife doesn't tell him about some time she spent in Portugal with her lifelong family friend John Trause and when she disappears for a day he makes up a back story for her and torments himself with imagined lovers and secrets he will never know. Basically Auster is writing about a writer but in a very convincing way, showing that when a writer isn't writing he's still writing with his mind stories that he will forget soon but can't stop imagining because of his literary inclinations.

There isn't really a plot, the story tends to meander like the writings of Orr in his blue notebook (in "City of Glass" Quinn wrote in a red notebook, what is it with Auster and these coloured notebooks?) but it's never dull and I was always interested in what Orr was doing whether he was writing his novel which doesn't work out or simply walking the streets of Brooklyn writing stories in the air and forgetting them the minute he goes back home. It's a clever, interesting tale of love, the love of writing, the love of friendship, the love between man and wife, and you see the love Auster has of writing too throughout this book, the writing never feeling forced but natural like a speaking voice. One of his better ones for sure, recommended reading!

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This book was a complete disappointment to me.I don't mind being left to wonder a little about what may have occurred, but this was ridiculous...it started out well, but it seemed as though Auster just got bored and gave up at the end.

4-0 out of 5 stars Life imitates Art
I like the way the story builds up and then moves on to another story-within-a-story, while being tied back to the main plot again... a less able author wouldn't have been able to weave all the levels together as seamlessly.

For anyone who has ever had their little obsession with stationery, like believing in the power of a blank notebook, or questioned if the writer is just a vessel through which a narrative writes itself, as well as the horrors of life imitating art.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stories within stories, and all the world a stage...
Marx once said "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."Sidney Orr (narrator) and the author's alter ego John Trause, through the progression of this recursive and elliptical story gradually come to learn that their words have consequences, first as tragedy, then as farce.They may unknowingly unleash a blizzard of coincidences or an avalanche of catastrophe.The act of authoring itself creates tragedy, both through the promise of hope and the threat of fear, both imaginary.Yet, life will not conform to the petty dictates of drama or narrative.When Bowen is locked in the basement vault of the Bureau of Historical Preservation, we as readers are conditioned to expect a resolution will be forthcoming.Yet, life gets the last laugh.There are no neat resolutions in Oracle Night, yet everything is connected.Although it may seem convenient to place the blame for our misfortunes on the curious effect of a particular blue Portuguese notebook, procured by an inscutable Chinese stationer, we must ultimately bear full and complete responsibility for the constitution of our own self through the narratives we make.An example of thecontingency of life and a cautionary tale about the care that we must exhibit before we undertake to narrate our own stories, Auster's Oracle Nights will leave you wondering all the way to the bitter end. If you like this you may also enjoy Auster's Man in the Dark: A Novel. ... Read more


18. The Book of Illusions: A Novel
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-10-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0312429010
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK



Six months after losing his wife and two young sons, Vermont Professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. One night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost film by silent comedian Hector Mann. His interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight in 1929.

When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer’s mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico inviting him to meet Hector. Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.

Amazon.com Review
Vermont professor David Zimmer is a broken man. The protagonist of Paul Auster's 10th novel, The Book of Illusions, hits a period in which life seemed to be working aggressively against him. After his wife and sons are killed in an airplane crash, Zimmer becomes an alcoholic recluse, fond of emptying his bottle of sleeping pills into his palm, contemplating his next move. But one night, while watching a television documentary, Zimmer's attention is caught by the silent-film comedian Hector Mann, who had disappeared without a trace in 1929 and who was considered long-dead. Soon, Zimmer begins work on a book about Mann's newly discovered films (copies of which had been sent, anonymously, to film archives around the world). The spirit of Hector Mann keeps David Zimmer alive for a year. When a letter arrives from someone claiming to be Hector Mann's wife, announcing that Mann had read Zimmer's book and would like to meet him, it is as if fate has tossed Zimmer from one hand to the other: from grief and loss to desire and confusion.

Although film images are technically "illusions," this deft and layered novel is not so much about conscious illusion or trickery as about the traces we leave behind us: words, images, memories. Children are one obvious trace, but in this book, they are not allowed to carry their parents forward. They die early: Hector Mann losing his 3-year-old son to a bee sting just as David Zimmer has lost his two sons in the crash. The second half of The Book of Illusions is given over to a love affair, and to Zimmer's attempt to save something of Hector Mann, and of the others he has loved. In the end, what really survives of us on earth--what flickering immortality we are permitted--is left to the reader to surmise. --Regina Marler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (97)

2-0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
Like other reviewers, I think it's getting to be time to give up on Auster. Not only was this book just way too obvious and pandering, the characters didn't actually behave like real human beings. Unlike his earlier books where the characters were obviously symbols in an unreal world, in this one the world is real, but nothing that happens in it is. Sorry to have to take him off my must read list, but all good things come to an end.

5-0 out of 5 stars ....'The World Was An Illusion That Had To Be Reinvented Every Day.'
This is one of the very finest books that I have ever read.It is a stunning achievement, and one does not or cannot walk away from this unmoved.

`The Book of Illusions' is an extraordinarily empathetic humanistic novel.Auster writes about identity, love, joy, loss, sadness, and hope.He speaks to the human condition.

`The Book of Illusions' provides an in-depth exploration of ones response to human brokenness, human hope, as well as human finitude.These responses are usually not fixed.They change, they grow, they evolve.This book speaks to this.

The reader is first introduced to David Zimmer, and it is Zimmer's voice we hear throughout this pitch-perfect novel.Zimmer has recently lost his family in a plane accident.He is unable to function and consequently leaves his position at a local college.Zimmer turns to alcohol spending his days drinking and in solitude.It is the laughter he feels from watching a silent film that brings life back to him.The actor in this silent film is one Hector Mann.Have you ever wondered if comedians are happy people?

There are soul-searching, heart wrenching vignettes in this novel.When Zimmer visits a doctor for a prescription, he encounters Dr. Singh.When Dr. Singh listens to Zimmer's heart, he understands.I read that passage a number of times thinking that Auster all but utilizes X-Rays into the human heart.

There are many characters in this novel.Alma is one of these, and she has a pronounced birthmark on her face.People usually look at her, and she remarks to Zimmer ....'I knew that that purple blotch would always define me on my face......I knew what people were thinking.The birthmark was the test of their humanity.It measured the worth of their souls, and if I worked hard at it, I could see straight into them and know who they were.'[Page 123]

We see and feel everything through the eyes of David Zimmer.I willingly went along with Zimmer's journey and had magical experiences.

`The Book of Illusions' has everything a reader could possibly want.Auster's prose dances those fluid steps of only a professional.He constantly surprises the reader.Just when one thinks he/she knows where Auster is going, he takes one somewhere else.

When I closed this book, I was left pondering immortality.`This life is only a prelude to eternity.For that which we call death is but a pause, in truth a progress into life.'[Seneca]

This book will command you to feel.It is unforgettable.


4-0 out of 5 stars Reality into fiction via fantasy back to fact
Paul Auster's The Book Of Illusions offers the reader pretty much what the title promises. It's a book and there are illusions! By the time we arrive at the end of the tale, however, we perhaps see the two terms as synonyms. Throughout, reality changes to fiction, fantasy becomes fact. An academic's study of an actor's comedy leads to an intimate involvement with the subject's life. That life has itself become a fiction, lived with a declared aim of producing films that no-one will see. In the films, fantasies are enacted which later become real, and by design, thus rendering the original merely rehearsal. Meanwhile, the academic translates a biography so long it seems a lifetime's work is needed to recreate it afresh. But who knows what in that memoir might be invention, mere illusion?

Hector Mann is a silent movie star. He has an enigmatic style that was never fully exploited in the industry because of interpersonal relationship problems with others in his studio. He would never have made it in talkies anyway because of a thick immigrant's accent. I have just used a relative term as if it were an absolute. I meant, of course, that Hector Mann was an immigrant to the United States. Hector Mann, incidentally, is also Hector Spelling, amongst others.

Professor Zimmer, a recent victim of family loss via the indisputable finality of an air crash has spent much effort researching the life and career of Hector Mann. He has written a book on the star's silent movies. The comedy, it seems, is all in the slight movement of the hairline moustache, the actor's trademark. But there was much more, such as innovation, poetry and inner meaning within Hector Mann's characters and plots.

One day, Professor Zimmer's wife and kids are no more and, decades earlier, Hector's tenuous working relationships dissolve to nil via conflict. The learned professor descends into booze and an apparently interminable translation of Chateaubriand's history. Hector leaves film and wanders elsewhere, soon to make a living out of live pornography. It's a role he was born for, but his true identity, at least the one he has publicly shared, once discovered, becomes his downfall. He runs away from the revelation of his self.

In the middle of a mid-West backwater, a place out of which Hector created a fiction only later to render it real, an act of heroism brings a couple together. They gel. But the resulting arrangement is complex. An inheritance facilitates a totally private exploration of personal interest and thus imprisoned talent. New films are made, but they are never aired. They are different, even revolutionary, but no-one ever sees them because Hector and his new partner have opted for remote obscurity.

Professor Zimmer, having assumed that Hector had died, finds out that he is still alive. There's a chance that his book is incomplete. Another relationship gels when Alma, the daughter of one of Hector's collaborators, visits the professor to share a project. Together they travel to New Mexico, where Hector lies close to death. There they discover a life's work that might change the history of cinema, but it's a life's work that was created for purely private purposes and carrying its own death warrant.

In The Book Of Illusions, Paul Auster seems to juxtapose a reality that seems less than real with fiction that feels immediate. It's a blurring of experience and invention, with only one reality, itself unreal, definitive. It's a superb book, brilliantly constructed, utterly credible, but constantly surprising.

The characters' lives turn in circles. They seem only in part control and yet they always retain the option of decision. Their creativity produces a string of illusion, much of it quite real or destined to become so. And be under no illusion, the amount of destiny that we control could depend on how ruthlessly we pursue it.

5-0 out of 5 stars "In eight short days, she brought me back from the dead."
The very first line of "The Book of Illusions"--"Everyone thought he was dead"--hints at the bleak, noir-like, ironic atmosphere Auster creates in this eerie novel. The narrator, David Zimmer, a man walking wounded among living, has lost his wife and two sons in a plane crash, and he distracts himself with writing a biography of the only man who made him laugh during his grief: silent film star Hector Mann, who vanished in 1929 and six decades later had been forgotten and assumed dead. Why did Mann disappear? Where did he go? And is he dead after all? The questions take on a new urgency when someone claiming to be Mann's wife contacts Zimmer.

The mystery, the sorrows, the warped events and twisted characters--they all add up to a neo-gothic detective story about two men surviving tragedies at the opposite ends of the twentieth century. Auster teases us with false leads and dead ends, an unreliable narrator recalling stories told by unreliable narrators, synopses of masterful films never meant to be seen by the public, and an aura of dread and secrecy that underscores the story's dreamlike atmosphere. ("That's what makes his story so impossible. . .he's told me the truth.") And amidst the illusions wander the barely-alive and the reluctantly-living and the long-thought-dead, who are kept alive by the power of their silent art or their printed words--not just the characters Mann and Zimmer, but also Chateaubriand, whose autobiography Zimmer has agreed to translate. (Appropriately titled "Memoirs of a Dead Man," it was not published until after the author's death.)

I was completely taken in by this novel, the story of its narrator, the mystery of Hector Mann, the revelation of his Depression-era travails, the sublime comedy of his silent films, and the eccentricities of his extended family--in fact, I was unable to stop reading the book once I started. Is the novel, at times, over the top? Perhaps--but with a purpose. Of the scenes that seem to strike readers and reviewers as "unrealistic," the one most often ridiculed is the confrontation with a friend of the Mann family, who arrives uninvited and unexpected at Zimmer's doorstop packing a gun--and ends up in his bed. (What was she doing with a gun, anyway?)

But the entire book strikes me as intentionally surreal, an almost-otherworldly exploration of parallel lives in a literary zombieland. ("In eight short days, she brought me back from the dead.") It's no accident that the most detailed, evocative, and (yes) realistic scenes in the entire novel are found in Auster's prose describing Zimmer's summaries of Mann's movies. I closed the book feeling like I'd seen them myself. For the living dead, life is found on the screen.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stunning.
I cried for a good bit after reading this. I haven't been affected by a book before in this manner. ... Read more


19. Ghosts (New York Trilogy)
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 96 Pages (1987-07-07)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 014009735X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

*****
A fiction writer compiles his essays and interviews with such literary greats as Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Paul Celan, and more in a book that calls attention to the dangerous stakes of writing and undermines accepted notions about literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Missing the color of Auster's best characters
This small novella is the second unit of the 'New York Trilogy' It is the mediocre work wedged in between two extraordinary ones. The device of giving the major characters of the work color- names (i.e. Blue is the detective paid by White to watch Black) seems to me abstract and ineffective. One of the great strengths of Auster's writing is his capacity to create incredibly interesting characters, whose lives and stories we want to know more about. Here Blue sits too long watching and waiting for Black to give himself away.
I know that there are many hidden meanings and connections in this work, as there are in all Auster's work. I know I missed most of them. But nonetheless I would claim that great art has to appeal first of all on the surface level, and that here Auster misses the mark.

3-0 out of 5 stars This novella intrigues but does not satisfy
Just finished "City of Glass" and then found the New York Trilogy on a bookshelf at home and finished this 70 page story in one day.

My interpretation of the plot is that a "twisted" writer (White) hides his identity and hires a young private eye (Blue) to sit in an apartment across the street from his own apartment.Blue is duped into thinking he is tailing someone named Black and obligingly sends off weekly reports to White on Black's activities.It takes Blue and the reader a long time to figure out what is really going on.Like Auster's previous novel, the detective becomes obsessive, then introspective, and finally deranged as the story goes on.The main characters could be considered insane by the time we reach the rather abrupt ending. Ugh!

I kept wanting to tap Blue on the shoulder through the first half of this story and tell him his work compulsion was going to get him in big trouble.Then I realized as time dragged on unbelieveably in the story that Auster was determined to lead his characters towards their absurd and insane climatic behavior.

So go ahead and read these two stories if you are curious about how it feels to slip into derangement.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Color of Thought
Auster is not an easy read, but he himself admits this comparing himself to Thoreau and Walden, he intimates that you have to read him slowly to get all of the nuances.

The story itself appears simple (and mimics some of 'City of Glass'), White hires Blue to watch Black and report each week what Black has done. (White has rented two apartments that front on each other from across a steet..Orange Steet.) What Blue and Black don't know is that they have been hired to watch each other.Blue spends almost a year watching Black do nothing more than write a novel.My guess is that Black is writing the novel to keep himself busy, in the same way that Blue makes up stories in his head but never puts them to pen.In the end, Blue steals Blacks manuscript (after beating him up), reads it and leaves his apartment.

If the colors (say of light) are metaphors (duh!), white is the absense of substance, Black is the total of all colors of light and Blue is the shadow of Black.Since Blue and Black are the complement to each other, one is the stronger and the other is the follower.In the end the follower terminates the leader and leaves unfulfilled.

There are three strong hint as to what Auster is trying to get at in this story (IMHO).First is that like Walden by Thoreau there is a lot more there than meets the eyes you just have to look for it.Second is the story by Hawthorne of the man who spends years away from his family but is watching them from afar but late is welcomed back.Third, the movie 'Out of the Past' with Robert Mitchum which is about a private detective.If you take some time to look at all three, this book with be much easier to understand.

Contemplation is everything and nothing says the sparrow to the crow.

4-0 out of 5 stars Chandler by way of Kafka
An intriguing novel of the surreal. Under the guise of detective fiction,Auster creates a study in humanity and its composite elements, weaving anintriguing web of deception and misdirection in which names areunimportant.

There are sentences in this book which entire other bookscould be based on. Thankfully, this is one time where an author choosesbrevity and wit over quantity. (Perhaps the only criticsm could be he takesthis to a whole other extreme and makes it too brief).

Recommended forfans of Beckett and Kafka. ... Read more


20. The Red Notebook: True Stories
by Paul Auster
Paperback: 104 Pages (2002-06-17)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$5.63
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0811214982
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

*****
The Red Notebook brings together in one volume all of Paul Auster's short, true-life stories—a remarkable collection of tales that documents the curious, miraculous, and sometimes catastrophic turns of everyday reality.Paul Auster has earned international praise for the imaginative power of his many novels, including The New York Trilogy, Moon Palace, The Music of Chance, Mr. Vertigo, and Timbuktu. He has also published a number of highly original non-fiction works: The Invention of Solitude, Hand to Mouth, and The Art of Hunger. In The Red Notebook, Auster again explores events from the real world large and small, tragic and comic—that reveal the unpredictable, shifting nature of human experience. A burnt onion pie, a wrong number, a young boy struck by lightning, a man falling off a roof, a scrap of paper discovered in a Paris hotel room—all these form the context for a singular kind of ars poetica, a literary manifesto without theory, cast in the irreducible forms of pure story telling. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Bland
The book is an easy read but the connnections that the author makes are very tennuous.He talks about coincidences in life but the stories he writes about are vague and far-fetched.The style of writing is not all that creative so the book does not offer very much.

1-0 out of 5 stars I fell asleep while reading this book.Coincidence? You be the judge.
This short little book is a collection of two-to-four page stories about coincidences Auster has experienced or heard about. It sounded kind of intriguing when I first read about it, but in reality, I found this book kind of, well, I guess the best word for it would be the most simple one: just plain ol' dumb. Had it been written by anyone but Auster, a well-known and highly esteemed author, I can't imagine it ever having been published. Because, honestly, these stories are just laughably lame. For example, there's one that essentially goes like this: one day, I lost a dime. A few hours later, I was walking down the street and, gasp!, there was a dime on the sidewalk! And here's another one: one day my wife and I were really, really hungry, and the next thing we knew, a friend came and took us out to dinner! Whoaaaa! How exciting! How curious! How philosophically intriguing! How . . . utterly inane!

If there was supposed to be a point to this collection of stories, some kind of deeper meaning to it all, I sure didn't get it. It either went way, WAY over my head, or else. . . borrrrrrrring! But go ahead -- give it a try yourself.And then you can let me know which one you think is the bigger idiot -- me or the guy who told Auster he'd love to publish this brilliant, insightful book. I know which one my money's on: one, two, three, NOT IT!

4-0 out of 5 stars The rescue of coincidence
This is going to sound really odd, almost like I am aping one the stories in the Mr. Auster's book, but I have to tell it, because it really is true and I think it bespeaks the delight of this small book.The night I read this book, I was helping my friend, Therese, with a short film she was shooting.The final scene in the film centered around a dinner party the main character throws, bringing together a number of ex-lovers.

Like most New Yorkers, Therese's apartment could barely handle eating dinner, much less filming the eating of dinner.So we were filming at Therese's friend Leah's apartment, a jaw-droppingly big loft.I'd never met Leah, or the several other people recruited for the shoot.This I suppose lent an air of authenticity to the awkwardness of having ex-lovers at a dinner party.

All through the dinner, Leah, our host, appeared mildly distracted, her laughter always coming a moment too late.Her boyfriend, with whom she lived was away in Mexico and I simply assumed that she missed him.

On the subway up to the dinner, I read the first forty pages of the "Red Notebook".Like all of Mr. Auster's books it reads marvelously well.The plainness of his prose masks how quickly he draws you into his world of coincidences and meta-fictions.As I set the book down when I arrived, I mentioned how wonderful the little stories it contained were.

When I arrived at dinner, after first being struck by the size of the apartment, I was taken aback by Leah's cat, Felix.Even at first glance, you could tell Felix was no ordinary house cat, she was too long and slightly too tall.After innocently reaching my fingers down, offering my scent to Felix, Leah warned, "Oh, I wouldn't pet her, she's not really friendly."Nevertheless, Felix licked my fingers and walked away.Both Therese and Leah commented on how unusually friendly the cat had just been.For a moment I swelled with the odd pride of being judged by a fickle animal and found acceptable.

Leah explained that Felix was a leopard cat, some odd breed concocted no doubt to exoticize the common house cat.

After the shoot, after cleaning up, after most of the guests had left, Therese and Leah retreated into another room to fetch a pirated DVD Therese wished to borrow.I was alone.Felix he sat perched on the top of bookshelf, staring down at me.I stared back.Finally, I reached up to offer my fingers once again to the cat.Silently she swiped at them, catching her claws on the skin just between the knuckles of my pointer and index finger.A light scratch, just barely enough to break the skin and let leak a spot of blood.I looked at the burgeoning red line and then stared back at the cat.The pride of acceptance vanished, replaced by something closer to mutual respect.I didn't mention the swipe to either Therese or Leah.

On the way home, I finished the "The Red Notebook."Mr. Auster's books read quickly.And the short ones, like this read even more quickly.But for a day or two they coat the world with an odd sense of pattern.Suddenly every event has purpose, if not clear meaning.

I never saw Leah again.But her cat stayed in my mind, perched on that bookshelf staring down at me.

Six months later, I came across a listing on the Internet.A beautiful leopard cat looking for a new home.Before I realized what I was doing, I called the number.The man, Carlos, told me the cat was still available.Later that day when he dropped the cat by, he said that he and his girlfriend were having a baby and they wanted to take no chances with allergies.He wouldn't tell me the cats name, saying he simply called her gato.I would have to find the right name for her.

As Carlos was leaving, he glanced at my bookshelf in that instinctual act of sizing people up.He stopped in the A's and pointed to "The Red Notebook"."I love this book.We're actually naming our child Siri after one of the characters he mentions.My wife bought it on someones recommendation at a dinner party the day after she found out she was pregnant."

I told Carlos that I too enjoyed the book; that while I found the quality of the anecdotes wildly uneven, certain ones struck a chord; that I thought some of the stories skirt around cliche, but that skirting is the brilliance of the Paul Auster project: to rescue coincidence from its damnation as clumsy plot device and elevate to the status of plot itself.

I also told him how much a I loved the some of Auster's observations, particularly the insightful realization, "that I know nothing, that the world I live in will go on escaping me forever."

I call the cat Felix.

5-0 out of 5 stars Auster's 'Believe It Or Not'
In "The Red Notebook" Auster does something that is both whimsical and tremendously captivating.Most readers remember when they first read Charles Dickens and found his 'Deus Ex Machina' technique and his coincidences just too ridiculous to believe they actually happen in real life.However, they do.Everyone has some incredible coincidences that are basically one in a million chances, but just happen to take place.

Auster seems to have noted these incidents through his entire life, and then compiled them in this book.The coincidences are extraordinary, but not things that are impossible, just things that are extremely improbable.Auster enhances his style, by the use of "Kafkaesque" elements.His use of initial names is something that Kafka did all the time.And his ironic twists are also in the vein of Kafka, but instead of being novelistic, they are real and true stories.

The book is sure to captivate virtually any reader, and its conciseness both in writing and in length makes it an easily absorbed and quickly read piece of literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, very short and interesting
I've never read Paul Auster before, but my wife made me read this slim little volume and thought it was enchanting.Perfect size for a stocking-stuffer for that literary-type person in your family. ... Read more


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