Neon Lit: Paul Auster’s City of Glass

ISBN: 038077108X
ISBN 13: 9780380771080
By: Paul Karasik David Mazzucchelli Paul Auster Bob Callahan

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Comic Books Comics Comics And Graphic Novels Comics Graphic Novels Fiction Graphic Novels Graphic Novels Comics Graphicnovels Mystery To Read

About this book

A graphic novel classic with a new introduction by Art SpiegelmanQuinn writes mysteries. The Washington Post has described him as a “post-existentialist private eye.” An unknown voice on the telephone is now begging for his help, drawing him into a world and a mystery far stranger than any he ever created in print.Adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, with graphics by David Mazzucchelli, Paul Auster’s groundbreaking, Edgar Award-nominated masterwork has been astonishingly transformed into a new visual language.

Reader's Thoughts

David Schwan

A dark and psychological story. The main character writes detective novels and is asked to be a detective and investigate something. A surreal story unfolds and our detective becomes far too immersed in his work. The line between story and the real world is a blur.


'La ciudad de cristal' es mi favorita de todas las cosas que ha escrito Paul Auster. Es también lo primero que leí de este escritor. Es la primera parte de la 'Trilogía de Nueva York' que a día de hoy me sigue pareciendo la única obra de Auster realmente conseguida. Es por esto que me animé a leer esta adaptación en forma de cómic (o novela gráfica, lo que ustedes prefieran). Una parte de mí no era muy optimista. Una parte de mí sólo quería leerlo para ver como este noble intento fracasaba. Sin embargo, no ha sido así. A pesar de que es una historia muy poco visual y bastante abstracta, el cómic se sale airoso, encuentra una serie de soluciones visuales realmente originales y que plasman perfectamente el tono de la obra original de Auster sin dejar de dar un punto de vista personal, algo que no era nada pero nada fácil. La recomendaría para curiosos que disfrutaron de la 'Trilogía de Nueva York'.


The classic adapted to the graphic novel (or, if you prefer, comic) style. Still has its edge, still has its harrowing humanity. Sometimes a bit too cartoonish for my tastes, but worthwhile to read. Art Spiegelman writes a great intro, pragmatically discussing how he approached Auster and how this book came to be. It is located at the front of the book, but I recommend reading it AFTER you have read the story.


Fucking stupid.It's nothing short of a cute and novel expiriment that doesn't really go anywhere. My disapointment with this graphic novel was sorely exacerbated once I found out Spiegelman was the creative overseer and he did nothing to focus the narrative which is presented way too piecemeal and cut up for a normal reader to understand littleone enjoy.


I read this one bored Saturday afternoon without moving from my spot in the center of the bed. I imagine I looked like a really lazy Saint Bernard. I thought it was pretty graphic novels go it's definitely in the "superior" category. I never read the novel so maybe Auster fans were pissed by the abridged nature of this or something. One of those books that outdoes Kafka on doesn't get more "meta" than this one...the twists take this story back and forth between dimensions until you begin wondering if YOU are a fictional creation of this book...the art was okay...over the top but I figured that's camp on the part of the artist...


I've not read the prose edition of this novel, so I can't fairly compare them to each other.The story itself is a puzzle.. Who is Paul Auster? Why does Peter Stillman (Jr) phone him repeatedly? Where did Peter get Daniel's number? When Peter Sr turns up in the City, Peter sees a younger version peel off of him... why does Peter follow the older version and where did the younger one go? Why does Peter Jr's wife truly act as she does? These are all mysteries, to be sure.Daniel sees his losses in just about every one he meets, when he finally leaves his flat. He's very attracted to the Homeless of the City."Don Quixote" by Cervantes is referred to throughout. I think this story is patterned on that book. Since it's one of the novels I have never read, I believe that my understanding of this story is incomplete. That, of course, makes my review rather flawed.


City of Glass is a tough novella to read, because it is about defying expectations and disrupting narrative and form. I loved it though, and so when I saw the graphic form drawn by David Mazzucchelli (whose recent book Asterios Polyp was fantastic) I was immediately intrigued.It turns out to be a perfect adaptation. Which is to say that it feels free to change, quite liberally, what was on the page, so as to better preserve the idea. And that same disruption of storytelling is still in this book, transmogrified into the art. What Mazzucchelli has done is create a series of Escher-like zooms that call for the impossible interrelation of everything that still manages to leave threads feeling empty and alone, which mirrors perfectly what the novel does. It speaks volumes.The ending here, unfortunately, feels even more rushed and confusing than Auster's, needing perhaps a half dozen or so more pages to fully explore the final fate of Quinn, maybe needing more. I don't know. It feels a little rushed (and it is an already rushed and strange feeling ending in the book) and needed some space to let things sink.City of Glass is a marvelous book worth reading in both forms.

Carole-Ann Perron

Even if you're not in love with the story, you have to admit the work of Karasik and Mazzucchelli, to adapt the novel into a graphic novel, is flawless.

Jason Owen

In hindsight, it would have been more wise to read the actual novel first. While the story is thoroughly engaging, the adaptation relies heavily on a more antiquated comic form, using much of the panel space for captions to advance the story. But I honestly don't see Karasik and Mazzucchelli able to get around this with Auster's narration, theological theorizing, and what I think are long detours into metaphysics. And actually, there may be an argument made that their artistic approach was purposeful. The page structure rarely veers from a 9-panel block setting and the color is all black and white. The artists seem to have wanted a purely minimalist format to the images themselves so as not to dilute or distract from the words on the page. It will be an interesting comparison once I finally get around to reading the novel itself.

Nur Diyana

aku rasa, buku ni buat aku rasa terhuyung- hayang dalam imaginasi aku sendiri. Ke-graphic-an ke-novel-an yang ada pada semua ilustrasi yang ada macam bercakap dengan aku, sampaikan aku terdengar-dengar teriakan dia bila aku tak baca. Tak pernah pulak terfikir permulaan bahasa macamana. Pening untuk tentukan Paul Auster yang mana satu, penulis ke detektif. Dan aku sekarang boleh faham macamana orag boleh berubah dari satu kehidupan ke satu kehidupan yang lain. Lepas baca buku ni aku menjenguk balik filem Inception dan The Science of Sleep supaya aku terus menerus dalam realiti aku sendiri yakni dalam mimpi. Kemudian terus berjalan dan perhatikan orang.

Jeff Jackson

The rare adaptation that exceeds its source material. A doubly impressive feat since it's based on Paul Auster's best novel. With its deft ink strokes and airtight plot, this brilliant graphic perfectly captures and distills the original existential detective story. One of the great graphic novels and a perfect introduction to the fictional world of Paul Auster, too.


Having never read Paul Auster's City of Glass in bare text, it is hard to imagine it related more compellingly than it is here in his collaboration with artist Paul Karasik. The noir-ish narrative is built on acts of happenstance; intersections of personal losses, accidents and a search for answers that spin off into new configurations, like watching balls in a game of billiards.In his introduction, Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus and ten-year contributor to the New Yorker, explains how it all came together in a similar act of randomness, or perhaps destiny. After sparking a friendship with Auster in the 80's, Spiegelman saw tremendous graphic potential in Auster's abstract narrative style. He began searching for an artist who could not only tell the 'City of Glass' story, but capture and expand its essence.Spiegelman found that in a former student of his at the School of Visual Arts, Paul Karasik. Since SVA, Paul had moved on to teach art at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn Heights. As it turned out, one of Karasik's own students who showed particular talent was Paul Auster's own 11-yr old son, Daniel. Curious, Karasik had read some of Auster's work and had already begun working out sketches of City of Glass in a sketchbook. What results is a true meeting of the minds, as dynamic as it is inexplicable. Where Auster's language appropriately shatters, Karasik's visuals create a world where those broken codes can find their home.


This is quite possibly a perfect example of how a graphic novel can tell a different (and in my opinion better in this case) story than the original work by introducing pictures to the words. In this first illustrated book of Paul Auster's New York trilogy (mid 1980s noir mystery series), Auster himself becomes a character in his own book via illustrator adaptation. Running the gamut of common noir novel character types, the reader is introduced to a madman (or is he sane?), a stable and sane detective (or is he a writer? or is he insane?), someone's buxom wife (or is she a prostitute?), a brilliant professor (or is he a murderer?), and finally the City of Glass (New York, of course...but is it possibly the City of Brick as it becomes several times in the drawing). Great example of place as character, and great writing and drawing all around. 5 stars, easy.


I found it interesting, original, and memorable...but just a bit unsatisfying. I liked the graphics/ artwork, and I liked the story's investigation of identity, existence and reality. But to me, I was hoping for a neater ending. I really wanted an ending to match the 'mystery short story' genre and retrospectively make sense of the madness. But...that didn't happen, and it turns out there was no alternative layer of events - it was all just a face-value thing. I can't help but feel a touch disappointed about that - but I still give it points for being interesting and well crafted.


I first read this years ago, and my memory of it was as a 4 or 5 star book, but this time I'm going to drop it to 2. My thoughts on this reading was that it read a lot like reading Alan Moore's Watchmen, which most people would think is a compliment, but I don't. Like Watchmen, this book spends an inordinate amount of time being clever, and that cleverness is an impediment to the story. There are only so many clever things to do with the art before a reader starts to look to the cleverness, and look away from the story. The "cleverness quotient" on this work was exceeded by about page twenty...past that point it was art for art's sake, rather than art for the story's sake. It was like a child doing yet another trick, screaming "Look at me, look at me, look at me!" Shame, really, because Mazzucchelli is one of my "giants" of the comic art form, but here, like Alan Moore did in Watchmen, he's just exercising his art form, rather than exercising the story.

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