The Locked Room (The New York Trilogy, #3)

ISBN: 0940650762
ISBN 13: 9780940650763
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

When Fanshaw disappears, leaving behind a wife, a baby and an extraordinary cache of novels, plays and poems, his boyhood friend is lured obsessively into the life that Fanshaw left behind.

Reader's Thoughts

Melanie Brewster

Loved, loved, loved this book.


My favourite of the three I think, it seemed to make a bit more sense to me, and brought in a few names from the other books, the characters felt more real, doing things I could imagine real life people doing.

Jonathan Widell

The third novel in Paul Auster's New York Trilogy is different from the first two in many ways. It is more subdued, less clever and a lot more pensive. Auster takes a step back and takes a good look at the success of his first two novels. What he sees does not make him happy. In the Locked Room, Auster has dispensed with his earlier private-detective stuff almost completely. The novel is, instead, a cat-and-mouse story between two writers, a guy called Fanshawe and the narrator. Of course, Auster would not be Auster if Fanshawe were not actually...Auster. Fanshawe stands for the brilliant writer that the world knows as Paul Auster but Auster sees less and less as himself. Hence, the showdown between the two. A lot of crazy things happen but basically the narrator publishes Fanshawe's material after Fanshawe has disappeared and begins to write Fanshawe's biography. An all-consuming love-and-hate relationship ensues between them. One can imagine how hard it is to write a book like this. It has two main characters both of whom are different aspects of the writer himself and the point is that they cannot get along with each other. The process has clearly taken a toll on Auster and he cannot hide all the exhaustion in the projected exhaustion experienced by the two main characters. The Locked Room is less fun than City of Glass and Ghosts. Luckily, the process has paid off in more quotable material, such as the one on page 118 in my edition: "The true test, after all, is to be like everyone else. Once that happens, he no longer has to question his singularity. He is free - not only of others, but of himself."


Read my thoughts on this one on my full review of The New York Trilogy.


So the "trilogy" (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room) is really just one book. Like it doesn't even make sense to review them separately.And um, wow. Crazy & interesting & clearly with SO much going on below the surface. (Now that I know how everything ties together, I may need to read it again to really get it.) Dream-like & spooky & incredibly well-written.From a Washington Post Review - "Ever since City of Glass, the first volume of his New York Trilogy, Auster has perfected a limpid, confessional style, then used it to set disoriented heroes in a seemingly familiar world gradually suffused with mounting uneasiness, vague menace and possible hallucination. His plots — drawing on elements from suspense stories, existential récit and autobiography — keep readers turning the pages, but sometimes end by leaving them uncertain about what they've just been through." I'd say that's about right.Short, though, even with all three put together. I could've gone on reading this for weeks.


This was both an interesting story in it's own right (up until the last few pages when it explicitly connected it to parts 1 & 2 of The New York Trilogy), and a very satisfying conclusion to the interconnect meditation on self and identity.

Alfredo Peña

Primera novela de Auster que leo. El lenguaje es perfecto, leerlo en voz alta es una delicia. La trama sigue las pautas de una novela de misterio, pero de inmediato te das cuenta de que hay algo más. Fanshawe se vuelve en un símbolo más que en una persona real. Breve, pero potente. Altamente recomendable.


By far the best novel of the trilogy, which isn't saying much. The Locked Room is pretty deep and affecting, though, and Auster manages to keep himself from being *too* post-modernly cute as it plays itself out. Had I read this alone, I would probably rate it higher; in context, it stands out as being merely a cut above his previous entries in the New York Trilogy. While there are meta moments, none of them want to make you throw the book against a wall in disgust - a welcome change from the ending of City of Glass and the excuse-making literary criticism sections of Ghosts. Locked Room's mostly human characters (albeit occasionally beset by stilted dialogue) are another welcome change for the series.

J.M. Slowik

Last book of the trilogy-- and it implodes on itself. All the stories are the same story, told from perspectives which may be the same perspective. Characters, narrator, author, all mixed up. You reach the last page and (spoiler alert) are denied a final, complete understanding of anything. Text like our own lives... there's just a surplus of information that may appear to contradict itself, and which defies easy analysis. We can't even be sure that we know ourselves-- or that there is a self to know.

Jason Edwards

I know this guy who used to be a poet. He told me about how he would go to these writer’s retreats, and sit around with other poets who would just blather on, all these anecdotes meant to pre-inform their poetry. And he hated it. And I hated The Locked Room.Because I feel like City of Glass and Ghosts where just blatherings setting up icons in The Locked Room. There’s the various names of people, the various artifacts. Graves and Alice in Wonderland and red notebooks. Borrowing an overcoat might be a metaphor for something, at the reader’s discretion. But when it’s mentioned in one story and then another, the reader no longer has a choice. And as a reader, I do not want the author telling me what to think.This is not a screed affirming “show don’t tell.” I don’t even want the author to show me anything, not on purpose any way. Just write your damns story. I’ll find meaning in it if I want to. The Locked Room is so damned Freudian, and I mean that pejoratively. The main character has sex with his child-hood friends wife—and it’s angry sex! Bullshit.The only part of The Locked Room—or the entire New York Trilogy, for that mattered—that I found the least interesting was Fanshawe’s sister. Finally, I thought, a part of the story leaked through and not “expertly crafted” as a symbol of something. That is, until the sentence: “Ellen is no more than a literary device.” I gnashed my teeth. I decided that no, Auster must have realized that she’d leaked in, and so he came to grips with his lack of control by shoving in that sentence. Ha.Whatever. I’m done with the novel(s) now, and I can move on to middle-class meaninglessness. Fiction forwarded by cognitive dissonance, existential angst held at arm’s length and not propped-up by so-called Post-Modernism. Post-Modernism can bite my ass.


** spoiler alert ** This is the final installment of the New York Trilogy and once again the story is completely unrelated to the other ones. However I actually found this book enjoyable despite the once again disappointing ending.This book is about a writer(whose name is not given) who gets a phone call from Sophie who is the wife of his old best friend Fanshawe who he hadn't talked with in ages. He is saddened and surprised to learn however that Fanshawe disappeared 6 months earlier. To his even greater surprise Sophie was told by Fanshawe earlier that in the event that something happened to him she was to call the writer and give him all of Fanshawe's written work if the writer liked it they were to be published if the writer disliked them they were to be destroyed. The writer does like them and gets them published and after much success was asked to write a biology for Fanshawe. Still unsure after a week of thought he excepts, this leds to even more exciting twists and turns that once again led to a disappointing ending.

Labeeb Xaman

This was actually a slow book as compared to the first two stories which I loved in 'The New York Trilogy' especially 'Ghosts'. 'The Locked Room' got a bit boring for me in the middle, especially when the main character starts to work on the biography. But in the end it was almost as interesting a psychological tale as the other two stories. Because of the slow pace of this story it took me more days to finish it while the previous two stories were quite page turning.

Daniel Parks

On the surface it's a trio of loosely connected detective stories, but at its heart its a novel in three parts about the solitude of a writer that comes from alienating loved ones through the act of self-imposed isolation. And for all of that it's beautifully subtle, which is rare.


A wonderful read. Very dense for such a slender novel. I found it to be very similar to the Robertson Davies' The Deptford Trilogy, an excellent Canadian author. However, Auster's locked room is distinctly American in how the main character approaches the physical and philosophical challenges presented to him.


Hm. This whole trilogy makes my head hurt, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm frustrated though, that basically any conclusion I draw could possibly be true, and nothing is definitely true. Overall, I liked the last book best and I'm giving the whole thing three stars. It definitely made me think, and I enjoyed discussing it.

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