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


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.

Mark Flowers

If you're looking for a real mindf**k, you could do worse than this - but you should start with City of Glass and Ghosts, to get the full New York Trilogy experience.Also, random piece of trivia: a song on one of my favorite albums of all time (Rock and Roll, by the Mekons) quotes liberally from this book, and is kind of an adaptation of it, in some ways.

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.

David Balfour

Lacks the colourful imagery of City of Glass and the fast pacing of Ghosts.


Part the third!This is probably the least detective-y of the three novels, but it too centers around one man's private investigation that gradually spirals out of control. It also involves two more writers. I enjoyed reading this one as much as the two previous novels, but I don't think it stuck with me as well. I read it most recently of the three and already many details are fading. As with the others, I found the twists were fairly predictable and the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. I might actually have to lower this one to three stars.


Is it me or there was little of interest in this book or the other two preceding books! The search for the identity was somehow interesting but that was it! I didn't enjoy reading it, unfortunately, and I expected a better ending. However, the author(the narrator) was very well aware of his(or human's in general) inner thoughts or feelings, I was astonished by some of the reactions and intentions he mentions.

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.

Melanie Brewster

Loved, loved, loved this book.


** spoiler alert ** Auster creates a character and makes him travel towards the meaning of his own life. It is a travel to the deep of himself. But to reafirm the austerian conception of life, this travel is condemned to fail: the meaning of life, the sense of life, is a mistery and will always be a mistery for human: it will always be a locked room.Fanshawe it is only a character that represents the sense of life. The main character (whose name is not revealed) remains always at the back of Fanshawe. For Auster, life is a labyrinth without exit, and is made of casualties and guided by the laws of chance. That is why the locked room is not opened, that is why the red notebook is not undestood.

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."


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.


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.

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.

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.


You will encounter certain things in the New York Trilogy. These things will recur in eerie ways. They will be names, places, situations. Some of those things will be books: Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, Walden, books by Melville and Hawthorne, The History of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh, The Travels of Marco Polo. Spookier still, all these books are either important to me already, or are ones I've fixated on, and have intended to read for a while. I'm not sure that a careful reckoning of particular motifs and repeated elements would reveal anything more profound than the weird quality they impart upon a casual reading. There's much that's fake and phony in these books; characters lie to each other, narrators fool themselves, and us, and Auster himself sends us cryptic signals from the other side of the page. I don't think the anguish which the act of writing causes the author-characters in these books is fake. I don't think it's fake for Auster, either.

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