This is one of those books I honestly thought I liked a lot, only I guess I must have been fooling myself because I got to the second chapter of the third section, and abruptly stopped reading. The bookmark on page 216 has been marking that place now for several years.In my defense, these are available in separate volumes, and if I'd read the first two books that way I'd probably feel like less of a failure. I think I really did enjoy them, just.... by the third one I was a little tired of the whole thing, and not quite up for going through it all again. I don't know. They were good. Maybe I'll revisit it. This is the only Auster I've ever tried. I have this vague association between him and Murakami, who I've also left unfinished. They're both, like, really polished or clean or something, sort of emotionally remote, and in a strange way remind me of looking at a really beautiful ad for Swedish vodka in the New Yorker or something like that, feeling kind of messy myself and probably not calm or sophisticated enough to join in seamlessly in what's going on. I don't know. Flipping through this book, I suspect that I did actually enjoy it more than I remember. I mean, it was detective stories. That's fun! I also think of this book when I'm in Brooklyn Heights, which I enjoy. Worth another try, though I'd have to start over from the top.Theoth
Ermmmm, I read this some years ago and can barely recall the second and third stories now. The three stories are 'interlocking', i.e. linked by themes and ideas, so it is not necessary to read all three in order, nor to read all three at all.5 STARS for the first story which I do clearly recall hitting me a full blow to the frontal neurons. It starts as one kind of novel then changes into something else and keeps changing until the immersed reader is experiencing an identity crisis as slippery as that of the story's protagonist. (Similar to watching David Lynch's 'Lost Highway'.) So, I think it's about how we construct our identities by what we do or think or label things, and about how haphazard and fragile all that can be. Or something. I must re-read.Jeremy Quinn
I can't believe I read this all the way through, but I just kept thinking that at some point, something has to happen. I was disappointed. The writing is mechanical and boring. It's like being told a story by someone barely interested what they are saying. There is no experience to it, no stake in the characters, and like I said, nothing of note really happens. When Auster makes an attempt to wrap up the disjointed and feeble plot lines after two and three-quarter books of emptiness and abrupt endings, it feels like he is just throwing words and sentences out in order to get it over with. At this point, I didn't care. I just wanted the book finished so I could move on to something with even a little more substance.Blair
The New York Trilogy comprises a trio of interconnected stories: City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room. Each of them presents a spin on the detective genre. In City of Glass, a writer is mistaken for a private detective and is drawn into the entanglements of a rich, eccentric family. Ghosts, the shortest of the three, sees a detective tasked with observing a man and becoming increasingly paranoid about his target's life, as well as the intentions of his employer. The Locked Room, which has the most traditional format, follows another writer's obsession with his childhood best friend, who has been missing for years but becomes a celebrated author some time after his disappearance.I had to delete my first review of this book and start all over again. I began by reviewing each part of the trilogy separately, assuming that, although I knew they were interlocked, it would be possible to treat each of them as a standalone novella. However, when I reached the end of The Locked Room, I realised that the connections between the stories are so close and complex that this would be impossible. The first two stories only really make sense in the context of the third; and the third would seem too slight without the previous two to add substance to it. All of the stories appear to take place in some very slightly altered parallel universe, but the first and second are more blatantly parable-like and almost have a fairytale feel to them. The third has a more conventional narrative, in that it could almost be taken at face value as a mystery about a man who disappears, but when you go back to the others, to their significance both inside and outside the narrator's actual story, there seems to be much more to it than meets the eye. This is definitely the sort of book that demands, rather than suggests, a re-reading. There's this constant uneasy feeling that nothing is quite as it seems, but not in a sensational horror-story way, rather just that everything is slightly out of kilter. Because I didn't fully understand the relationship between reality and fiction in these stories at the begnning, certain things left me feeling very frustrated. Upon reaching the end of City of Glass, I was left with numerous questions, some of which I later realised were completely irrelevant. At the same time, the perspective offered by The Locked Room made me wish I'd taken more note of certain details, or thought harder about who/what various characters/situations were meant to represent. The key to 'getting' this book, I soon realised, was to recognise that much of it is symbolic, designed to explore themes - identity, perception, the importance of names, the power of stories and imagination - than to describe believable events.There's a scene in The Locked Room which involves the narrator and a colleague discussing the elusive nature of the appeal of Fanshawe, the missing writer. 'The book gets stuck somewhere in the brain, and you can’t get rid of it,' one of them says. 'You can't stop thinking about it.' For me, the same could be said of Paul Auster's prose. This gave me the same feeling I experienced with Oracle Night; I didn't think it was the greatest thing I've ever read by a long shot, but the style constantly kept me coming back for more and I came away from it feeling dejected at the idea of having to read anything that wasn't written by Auster. His writing seems to give you a thirst for more of the same. I've got another couple of his novels on my to-read stack now, so let's see whether this fascination endures.Carolyn
Yay, postmodern literature! I absolutely loved The New York Trilogy, especially City of Glass. I think that calling Auster’s style that of anti-detective fiction is quite an apt way of putting things, precisely because we have solved absolutely nothing at the ends of his stories, and that is exactly his intention. Any meaning we might find in his work only serves to prove that meaning is endless and should not be sought too hard. Indeed, Quinn himself literally disappears into his words, his notebook, at the close of City of Glass, even as he works through some meaning-finding process. I think Auster raises numerous (shall I call them clichéd?) postmodern existentialist questions with his characters, their situations, their identities, their meta-identities, and underlying it all, the city in which the story is set, with its potential for completely swallowing up all who live there. Quinn might be confused at Peter Stillman Jr.’s articulation that Peter Stillman is his name, but not his name, but Quinn himself has taken on multiple identities within himself: William Wilson, Max Work, Paul Auster, and Daniel Quinn. Detective fiction lends itself well these kinds of postmodern questions about identity and meaning and selfhood simply in the way that it traditionally poses such a question; who did this, why did they do it, how can we catch them, etc. But Auster seems to only use the modes of detective fiction as far as they will carry his questions; he stops short of any solution or attempt at articulating what is real or true. There are caveats throughout the stories to warn the reader that they oughtn’t take anything for granted, as if his slippery language and confusion tactics didn’t already relay that perfectly well. I like that about postmodern literature…it’s not trying to be the truth. That’s more enjoyable.Islam
عن الهسهسة والهلوسة والوسوسة..........................................باتت تشكل الرواية عبئا علىّ عندما أصبحت تأكيدا لهاجس أصبح يستولى علىّ مؤخرا – قرابة عامين حتى الآن- وهو أنكم مجرد أشكال نمطية لشخصيات متخيّلة.من مراقبتى شبه الدائمة والمتقلبة بإصرار لتعقّب جزئيات التسارع المتعاقب للزمن بت أشك فى الوجود الفيزيقى لشخصيات أصبحت تشكّل ما أنا عليه الآن، التواصل المادى الملموس تحوّل تدريجيا إلى نوع من التجريدية البحتة مثل فكرة ترسبت فى الدماغ وبدأت بتكرارها اللانهائى تأكل فى خلاياه التى مع مرور الزمن تضمر فى خشوع متبتل تحت وطأة انتظار النهاية المرجوة.بات لدى وعي باطني لا سبيل لإيقاف جموحة مع العزلة التى فرضتها على نفسى قسراً وقدرتى المكتسبة على خلق شخصيات من العدم لتؤكد وجودها فى أفعال مصبوغة بفكرة الزمن والمكان والصبغة القشرية للذات..عملت مرارا على تفكيك ما يمر بى وإعادة بنائه..الوعى الباطنى بالزمن والمكان والذات كل على حده يشكل جزيئات غاية فى الصغر لواقع لاحظت مع يقظتى كل يوم يتشكل فى صفات متغيرة..وفقدت اللغة بمفرداتها الدالة المدلول الذى توحى به، مما أدى إلى تشوّش شبه مسلّم به ومرفوض منطقيا فى آن.الذاكرة ما هى إلا إعادة ميكانيكية لأحداث عايشتها فى الماضى تأتى تباعاً تحت ضغط روابط قدرية أعايشها فى الحاضر ولا أعلم علم اليقين هل هى فعلا ما هى عليه، أم أنى أحاول القيام بعملية توليفية لسد نقص فى تفاصيلها البعيدة كل البعد فى أحشاء الزمن الذى فقد مصداقيته نظرا لبعده الصورى والمكانى..فأعمل على تشكيل صورة جديدة مختلقة بعيدا عن الصورة القديمة للماضى ...فتفقد صدقها فى أن تقول ما كانت عليه.أصبح لدى إحساس بأن ما يدور حولى إن هو إلا خيال محض..واقع افتراضى أصنعه بمحض إرادتى وأستسلم استسلاما شبه كامل لحضوره الطاغى..حتى الرسائل..المكالمات الهاتفية ، الناس، الأصدقاء، الأماكن..الشوارع التى أتعقب فيها الهواء...للحظة أشعر أن كل شىء هو مجرد أفكار مجردة تتنازعنى وتصنع حولى سياجا للعبة مقيتة أشعر بها تُحاك من حولى للإيقاع بى وكأننى مركز العالم..كأن دماغى خشبة مسرح ممتلئة بالكواليس التى لا أعلم أى شىء بما يدور خلفها وأن العالم المادى الذى يشكَل عالمى ما هو إلا أفكار مجردة تتهامس خلف الكواليس لصنع أحجية تدفعنى دفعا لتعقبها وحلها فى مدة زمنية تطول أو تقصر وحيز مكانى لا يتصف بالمحدودية.مات الحد الفاصل بين اليقظة والنوم، بين الحقيقة والزيف..بين أنا وهو، بين الواقع والتخيّل..بين الماضى والحاضر..بين الحاضر والمستقبل...أنا مش عارفنى أنا تهت منّى أنا مش أنا .:(R.
It was only $2.95. So, I'll give it a shot. *Okay, pulled from the hall closet where it still lingers among dusty DVDs of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Martin Mull comedy albums. The previous reader left a bookmark; simple white square upon which two words were written: "exegetical" and "prelapsarian" - right before the chapter entitled, "The Locked Room"*Fawk. Auster has managed to accomplish everything I could ever hope; what's left? I finished City of Glass whilst drinking from a bottle of wine on the steps in the home library, absorbing each and every sentence. I talked to a portrait of my mom, afterwards, while smoking a Marlboro Light and eating the butt end of a loaf of bread - I ate very little today (a sandwich at 3 p.m. and then nothing until that bookreading bottle of wine). Auster. Austere. I remember watching Rosemary's Baby with a friend and her commenting that the decor was very austere. This was back in the late 90s. And I've already made the Polanski connections in this smalltown documented in Livejournal. What's left? To reread this book. *It's worth the $2.95 plus tax. I'll definitely pick up the Penguin Edition and force it into friends' hands and say, "Understand me! This justifies every moment I've opted for the soup over the souffle!"*I thought of jokey reviews, saying that this book makes Nabokov look like an illiterate moron and Borges as nothing more than a script doctor for Garfield narrative arcs. But these are my little jokes that amuse me on my runs, and nothing more. *The 85th book I've read since moving here in August 2006.amal
ثلاثية نيويورك ترتب الأفكار والكلمات بشكل استثنائي ؛ ترتيب يشبه حقيقة شروق الشمس في منتصف ليل الجانب الآخر من الأرض، لامعنى مطلق للكلمات مع أوستر كل شيء يخضع للنسبية، غول المراقبة يبتلع أبطال القصص الثلاث حتى يتلاشى وجودهم في الآخر ، الكاتب يبدو ذا حس سيكوباتي يستدرج الفضول ويخنقه بالاستفزاز والتوقف المفاجئ في منتصف الطريق ، يقطع حبل أفكارك من المنتصف تماما كما تقول الصبوحة :) اندمجت مع الأحداث وفكرت لو أن الإنسان يراقب نفسه كما يراقب الآخرين -كتحرّي- كيف ستكون النتائج ؟ وجدت التساؤل في الصفحات التالية ! تشك في أن أوستر يراقب أفكارك ويتلاعب بها كما يتلاعب بشخصياته .. يأتي على ذكر شخصيات غريبة من الواقع مثل الناقد والفيلسوف الروسي ميخائيل باختين الذي استخدم أوراق النسخة الوحيدة لإحدى مخطوطاته للتدخين ، و السيدة ونشستر أرملة صانع البنادق التي تبني المزيد من الغرف لمزيد من الحياة، والإيطالي لورنزو دابونتي متعدد الهويات، يقول أوستر " يبدو من المستحيل قول أي شيء عن إنسان إلا بعد أن يموت، فليس الموت الحكم على السعادة فحسب، وإنما هو القياس الوحيد الذي يمكننا به أن نحكم على الحياة ذاتها" تباً لك ياأوستر اللعنة عليك أيها اليهودي المتحذلق ؛ قد تردد مثل هذه اللعنات وأنت تقرأ مشاهد عديدة ، مثلاً حين يسافر البطل إلى باريس ويتحدث مع شخصيات ويزور أماكن ..ثم يعيد الحدث للنقطة الأولى وكأن شيئا لم يكن ! "الكذب شيء سيء ، فهو يجعلك تأسف حتى كونك قد ولدت، وألا تكون قد ولدت فتلك لعنة. محكوم عليك بأن تحيا خارج الزمن، وعندما يحدث ذلك لايكون هناك ليل ولا نهار، بل ولاتتاح لك الفرصة حتى للموت ! " لفّة طويلة وتفسير ماء بالماء هو ماثرثر به أوستر في الإقتباس السابق ليقول لنا عن -سيئات الكذب السيء- لاشيء علاقة جميلة يخلقها مع القارئ بحبكة من السراب ، تزيد من متعة القراءة ، أصحاب الوقت الثمين والفائدة وماإلى ذلك وذاك لا أعتقد أنها ستروق لكم (بس) الصراحة ممتعة وتكسر الملل وروتينية المنطق، يتحدث عن كتاب دون كيخوته وكأنه يتحدث عن ثلاثية نيويورك : "لقد أراد أن يختبر مدى قابلية رفاقه للانخداع.إذ راح يتساءل : هل من الممكن الوقوف أمام العالم بأقصى قدر من الثقة بالنفس وإطلاق الأكاذيب واللغو، هل من الممكن القول إن طواحين الهواء هي فرسان مسلحون وأن حوض الحلاق هو غطاء واقٍ للرأس وأن الدمى بشر حقيقيون ؟ هل سيكون من الممكن إقناع الآخرين حتى بإقرار ماقاله على الرغم من أنهم لايصدقونه ؟ وبتعبير آخر إلى أي مدى سيتحمل الناس الهرطقات إذا كانت مصدر تسلية لهم ؟ الإجابة واضحة. أليست كذلك، البرهان أننا مازلنا نقرأ الكتاب، ومايزال مسلياً إلى حد كبير بالنسبة لنا، وذلك هو في نهاية المطاف مايريده أي شخص من كتاب -أن يسليه- * هنا مقال يتحدث عن الكاتب وبعض كتبهAbdullah
في منتصف الثمانينات صدرت لأوستر رواية " مدينة الزجاج " و التي قام برفضها سبعة عشر ناشر حتى جازف أحدهم بطباعتها و ذلك لكونها رواية غير مألوفة و غامضة إن صح التعبير. أعقب ذلك صدور روايتين هما " الأشباح " و " الغرفة الموصدة " - غنيّ عن القول أنهما الجزئين المكملين للثلاثية - و بعد سنتين تفرغ أوستر للكتابة بعد أن حقق المجد و الشهرة عبر هذه الثلاثية و أصبحت الكتابة مهنته الأساسية إذ بدأت تنفق عليه و إن لم يكن بالثراء الذي يتصوره البعض - يعلق ضاحكاً -. عوالم أوستر على غرابتها و فرادتها من الممكن التكهن بها فهناك دائماً كاتب و هناك الكثير من حديث الكتب، و يبحث شخوصه بإلحاحٍ جنوني على الدوام عن الهوية و المعنى، و بطبيعة الحال تلعب الصدفة دوراً كبيراً في قصص أوستر. في مدينة الزجاج يتصل أحدهم بالكاتب كوين طالباً النجدة من وكالة التحري! و بالمناسبة يقول أوستر أنه قد تعرض لهذا الموقف شخصياً. الثلاثية مجموعة من الروايات البوليسية - ليست بالنمط المعهود - و فيها ينساق الأبطال بمكالمة أو رسالة لمصيرهم الحادّ و تحتاج الثلاثية إلى جَلَد من نوع خاص. من عبقرية أوستر أنه توقع هذا الحنق ليربت على كتف القاريء بجملة من كتاب " والدن " ترجو من القارئ أن يتهمل في قرائته حتى يستوعبه كاملاً! هناك الكثير من السطور التي سيطل بها أوستر مخاطباً القارئ بشكل غير مباشر. في الرواية الأولى يلعب كوين دور التحري - علماً أنه كاتب عادي لا أقل و لا أكثر - بينما يذهب التحري بلو ليهدر سنة من عمره في مراقبة شخص آخر في " الأشباح " و في الرواية الثالثة تتحول رسالة فانشو صديق الطفولة إلى ديناميت من شأنه أن يدمر كل شيء. عبقرية الثلاثية تتجلى بوضوح بتشابهها مع متاهة كاتدرائية شارتر بفرنسا حيث تبدو الأمور الغامضة موغلة في الوضوح! العمل عبقري و عصيّ على النسيان و يدعو إلى مزيدٍ من هذا الأوستر. لا يفوتني أن أشيد بالترجمة الأمينة.Alper Kumcu
The NY Trilogy is the early masterpiece of Auster. It clearly reflects Auster's style in every sense.What I like about the book is that it is multi-layered and can be read at each layer, namely, a psychological thriller, a detective novel and a meta-fiction about writing itself. I define the genre as "intelligent fiction" since the book is "magic-realism re-defined". The NY Trilogy can be regarded as the gateway to Auster's world.Louize
Identity, Solitude, LanguageA Reflection on The New York Trilogy written by Paul Auster. The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume.-WikipediaThis is one of those rare books that work on many levels of mystery, philosophy, and drama. While this was coined as trilogy, it was not written in that sense. The stories were related thematically, rather than narrative or plot. Yet after reading, I realized that writing an individual reflection on each story will not convey the wholeness of the book -its different stages of awareness. “Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.” I've read somewhere that these stories were referred as “metamystery”, which honestly I don’t know what. So, I am not going to pretend that I do. What I do understand is that this is a mystery book, because the whole book is the mystery itself. For even if we remove the identifying marks of a mystery novel -antagonistic characters, plot twist, and deathly climax- the book remains to be mysterious. And, although there are detectives or, at least, characters involve in detecting, none of the three is a detective story. “In the good mystery there is nothing wasted, no sentence, no word that is not significant. And even if it is not significant, it has the potential to be so –which amounts to the same thing.” Plenty of adjectives had been shot, ricocheting on the walls, to describe this book. If a reader wants to enjoy this book, he has to dodge them all. Paul Auster wrote a very readable book. It is not arduous, but it will ask you to think. The concepts echoed across the book were about man's subconscious control of his constant and definitive identity, the different causes and effects of solitude, and the limitation of language to convey all thoughts. All of which were tested in extremely unusual situations, yet believable. The testing variables were simple by imagination, yet the effects were staggering. Time and again, while reading, I asked -Why the hell did he do that for- then realized that I was merely looking from the outside. To be in such situation is more than mere thought can comprehend. “We imagine the real story inside the words, and to do this we substitute ourselves for the person in the story, pretending that we can understand him because we understand ourselves. This is deception. We exist for ourselves, perhaps, and at times we even have a glimmer of who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and as our lives go on, we become more and more opaque to ourselves, more and more aware of our own incoherence. No one can cross the boundary into another – for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself. ” Paul Auster had the good sense to tackle all these through fiction. The concepts he presented were unlikely to be accepted as a day-to-day occurrence. But if we are to understand that our lives are stories itself, and we being the author of it, it is foolish indeed to overlook the times that our identity was challenged, or when solitude bogged us down, or even when our thoughts stunted the words we wished to convey. “No one wants to be part of a fiction, and even less so if that fiction is real.” I suspect that all these leaves more questions behind, rather than answers. Maybe that is well, because this is not a traditional fiction; it requires a certain level of engagement from the reader. The stories will not end at the last page of the book, it continuous on with our lives. How we deal with it is entirely up to us. “Everyone knows that stories are imaginary. Whatever effect they might have on us, we know they are not true, even when they tell us truths more important that the ones we can find elsewhere. As opposed to the story writer, I was offering my creations directly to the real world, and therefore it seemed possible to me that they could affect this real world in a real way, that they could eventually become part of the real itself. No writer could ask for more than that.”Kelanth, numquam risit ubi dracones vivunt
La prima cosa che mi ha colpito in maniera positiva in questo libro è stata la scrittura, piena di "fronzoli", "merletti" e abbellimenti che rendono la lettura piena e corposa. Mi sono piaciuti molto anche i continui riferimenti al "caso", al fato che nella vita ci accompagna. Molto singolari anche le digressioni sull'etimologia delle parole e la spiegazione di un punto di vista traslato di alcuni passaggi biblici. Carino l'esempio dell'ombrello, che secondo un protagonista di una vicenda all'interno del libro smette di essere ombrello nel momento della rottura stessa dell'oggetto e dunque diventa un qualcos'altro che non è più lecito chiamare ombrello in quanto tale funzione è divenuta impossibile. La cosa che mi ha lasciato un poco perplesso e che mi ha fatto abbassare il mio giudizio finale sul libro è che l'autore prende un po' a pretesto delle storie gialle di detective per fornire una particolare visione del mondo appunto dominata dal fato e dal caso che secondo me si scontra un po' troppo con la visione classica di un giallo/noir. Questo non so se è un vero demerito dello scrittore oppure della presentazione fatta da Einaudi in prima di copertina per attirare certi lettori all'acquisto di questo libro. Alcuni punti poi, sono veramente pesantucci anche se la scrittura non stanca mai per tutto quello che si è detto prima. Una lettura piacevole che mi ha spronato sicuramente a leggere altri libri di questo autore, che è stata una gradevole sorpresa.http://kelanthsblog.blogspot.com/Shek
For me, this was a problematic book, fraught with numerous problemats. For one thing I have a grievance with any book that expects the reader to slog halfway through it before any rewarding aspects begin to surface. I sympathize entirely with anyone who quits before getting to that point, since I very nearly did exactly that.Also, I kept hearing that part I, "City of Glass", was the high point, and that afterward it went downhill. When I was halfway through "Ghosts" (part II) I would have completely agreed with that sentiment, since I thought "City of Glass" was kind of a drag with some highlights, and "Ghosts" initially did everything in its power to make me want to set the book on fire and drop it into a chasm.But whoever was saying that either did quit halfway through, or is just plain wrong. The Trilogy improves so dramatically in part III that it might as well be a different book, even as [SPOILER?:] it's built on the ruins of the first two parts and arguably linked to them indelibly. However, I honestly don't think Auster needed to write it that way, and while you can argue that the third part's power is cumulative, that you've got to pound through the first two wondering whether you were being mind-fucked or just pointlessly bored in order to win the prize at the end, I absolutely do not agree. After all that I do believe Auster is a great writer, but he needs to cut out this cutesy-poo monkeyfart "meta" crap and just make a damn story.David
Further update, June 19th 2012.In response to several thoughtful comments that take issue with the nastiness of my initial review, I have come to the conclusion that the comments in question are essentially correct. Please see my own response in comment #32 in the discussion. And thanks to those who called me on this, apologies for my earlier vitriolic responses. In general, I try to acknowledge the validity of other opinions in my reviews and comments, something I notably failed to do in this discussion. I should have been more civil, initially and subsequently.Update: WELL, CONGRATULATIONS, PAUL AUSTER!!I wouldn't actually have thought it possible, but with the breathtakingly sophomoric intellectual pretension of the final 30 pages of "City of Glass", you have actually managed to deepen my contempt and loathing for you, and the overweening, solipsistic, drivel that apparently passes for writing in your particular omphaloskeptic corner of the pseudo-intellectual forest in which you live, churning out your mentally masturbatory little turdlets.Gaaaah. Upon finishing the piece of smirkingly self-referential garbage that was "City of Glass", I wanted to jump in a showever and scrub away the stinking detritus of your self-congratulatory, hypercerebral, pomo, what a clever-boy-am-I, pseudo-intellectual rubbish from my mind. But not all the perfumes of Araby would be sufficient - they don't make brain bleach strong enough to cleanse the mind of your particular kind of preening, navel-gazing idiocy. All I can do is issue a clarion call to others who might be sucked into your idiotic, time-wasting, superficially clever fictinal voyages to nowhere. There is emphatically no there there. The intellectual vacuum at the core of Auster's fictions is finally nothing more than that - empty of content, devoid of meaning, surrounded with enough of the pomo trappings to keep the unwary reader distracted. But, if you're looking for meaning in your fiction, for God's sake look elsewhere.And, please - spare me your pseudoprofound epiphanies of the sort that the emptiness at the core of Auster's tales is emblematic of the kind of emptiness that's at the core of modern life. Because that brand of idiocy butters no parsnips with me - I got over that kind of nonsense as a freshman in college. At this point in my life I expect a little more from anyone who aspires to be considered a writer worth taking seriously.Which Paul Auster, though I have no doubt that he takes himself very, very seriously indeed, is not. This little emperor of Brooklyn is stark naked, intellectually speaking.The only consolation is that I spent less than $5 for this latest instalment of Austercrap. Gaaaah. PASS THE BRAINBLEACH.Earlier comment begins below:My loathing for the only other of Paul Auster's books that I had read (the Music of Chance) was so deep that it's taken me over ten years before I can bring myself to give him another chance. But finally, today, after almost three weeks of reading only short pieces in Spanish, my craving for fiction in English was irresistible, so I picked up a second-hand copy of The New York Trilogy in the English-language bookstore here in Guanajuato.So far so good. I'm about three-quarters through the first story of the trilogy and I'm enjoying it, without actually liking it, if that makes sense. Auster seems to owe a clear debt of influence to Mamet - there's the same predilection for games, puzzles, and the influence of chance. Thankfully, the influence doesn't extend to dialog, which Mamet has always seemed to me to wield clumsily, like a blunt instrument. Auster is more subtle, but he still holds his characters at such a remote distance, it gives his writing a cerebral quality that is offputting at times. Thus, one can enjoy the situations he sets up and the intricacies of the story, without quite liking his fiction. Who knows, maybe I will feel differently after I've read all three stories?Bob
Comparable to (although considerably predating) Martin Amis's Night Train - a fascination with procedural detective stories and mystery novels leads the modernist writer to try his hand at them. Confronted with the most determinist of all genres (and the fear of being labeled a genre writer, maybe), our high-brow writers veer off somewhere near the last minute into indeterminacy. Four pages into the first volume of this trilogy, City of Glass, the narrator outlines the aesthetic scope against which he ultimately rebels, extolling his enthusiasm for mystery novels - "...their sense of...economy...nothing wasted, no sentence, no word that is not significant. And even if it is not significant, it has the potential to be so...". Eventually, though, existentialist despair (perhaps more Sartre than Camus) is all the protagonists get for their trouble.Having read more of Siri Hustvedt's books than Auster's may put me in a delightful minority but he has a lot for me to catch up on, and it is tempting to get started right away. Part of the appeal, of course, for those who've spent the last couple of decades in Manhattan and Brooklyn, is the specificity of his places - I can envision that westward turn from Broadway onto West 107th St or the churchyard on Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights with a clarity that many but surely not the majority of his readers have. Yet that is almost why I've avoided him - let Anthony Trollope make me envision London in 1860 and I can admit to being impressed.