The Music of Chance

ISBN: 0140154078
ISBN 13: 9780140154078
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, The Music of Chance follows Jim Nashe who, after squandering an unexpected inheritance, picks up a young gambler named Jack Pozzi hoping to con two millionaires. But when their plans backfire, Jim and Jack are indentured by their elusive marks and are forced to build a meaningless wall with bricks gathered from ruins of an Irish castle. Time passes, their debts mount, and anger builds as the two struggle to dig themselves out of their Kafkaesque serfdom.New York Times-bestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) brings us back into his strange, shape-shifting world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a powerful yet unpredictable force.

Reader's Thoughts

Pablo Guzmán

En La música del azar me encuentro con el Auster de la gran imaginación, del azar, de personajes que intentan vivir y guiar sus propias vidas. Cierras el libro con un final inesperado, tras haber pensado durante 250 páginas que te gustaría lanzarte a la carretera, conducir tu vida; te quieres desatar de personas, trabajo y situaciones, para luego encontrarte y construir con tu pasado, junto a un nuevo amigo, un gran muro hecho de escombros de un castillo, levantando piedra a piedra, metro a metro, a quien has encontrado y eres en realidad. AUSTER, ERES GRANDE.


So far i like it. Auster succeeded in his experiment with the writing. It pleases me to read and live with his character, to understand his feelings throughout his acts not by direct description of the feelings themseleves.Predictable ending.But still great book


Una novela que realmente son dos. Ambas con su cuota de interés al lector. En la primera parte nos encontramos el recurrente tema en Auster del viaje. En este caso la suerte es positiva. El personaje principal vive una vida de la que no está satisfecho y de pronto la recepción de una herencia lo cambia todo. No es sólo el dinero, es la posibilidad de cambiar. Carretera, gasolina, coche, kilómetros. Pero el dinero es algo finito por su propia naturaleza. Cuando la nueva vida está a punto de agotarse un nuevo personaje se cruza en la vida de Jim Nasche. Un experto jugador de cartas. La novela no sólo cambia. Mejora. El lector empatiza con las situaciones a las que se enfrenta el par de personajes, el mundo kafkiano que los absorbe.Si bien se echan en falta algunos detalles al final, ese mismo oscurantismo es gran parte de su éxito.

Jose Gaona

Sorpresa mayúscula la que me llevé al leer este libro. En mi prejuicio por un autor al que apenas conocía, irreflexivamente catalogué a Paul Auster como autor "best seller", por tanto prescindible. Sin embargo, "La Música del Azar", lejos de poseer los lugares comunes y la prosa impersonal de esa clase de libros, se revela como una joya en miniatura. Auster traza los motivos y porqués de un tipo, que de la noche a la mañana, y tras recibir una suculenta herencia, decide romper con su vida anterior e irse de casa para conducir. Sin ningún destino en particular, sin ninguna meta concreta que cumplir. Conducir por el placer de conducir. Y en su periplo encuentra a un joven jugador de poker, "Jack Pozzi", que le convencerá para emprender juntos una vida de buscavidas profesionales. "La Música del Azar" es un "road book" (si es que existe el término) que rápidamente transmuta sus formas y continentes para convertirse en una novela kafkiana. Auster, con este libro, se ha ganado mi respeto, descubriéndose como un demiurgo de mundos surrealistamente jodidos. Imprescindible si no le temes a las espirales que proyectan geométricamente la degradación del ser humano.


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.


Really enjoyed this,with such a small cast of characters it was very intense .To begin with,not much happened,and before you know it,the main man is in a crazy situation that he's just not getting out of.I'm liking Auster more with every book I read,his characters are very real,but his stories somewhat unexpected.


James Nashe s'est fait plaquer, avec sa jeune fille, par sa femme Thérèse. Étant pompier, il confie la gamine à sa soeur, car il peut être appelé à tout moment par la caserne. Sa vie va prendre une autre tournure le jour où il reçoit un courrier le prévenant de la mort de son père, qu'il n'avait jamais connu, et dont il hérite d'une petite fortune. Il va alors quitter son boulot, s'acheter une voiture, et partir... Il va rouler pendant des kilomètres et des kilomètres, ne se lassant jamais du paysage défilant derrière la vitre, vivant parfois dans des petits motels, parfois dans de beaux hotels... mais un jour, il va faire la connaissance de Jack Pozzi, dit Jackpot. Le jeune garçon errait sur la route, salement amoché. Nashe va alors l'embarquer et s'occuper de lui... Jack va alors lui faire une proposition au sujet d'une partie de poker où il doit se rendre... un plan qui leur ferait gagner beaucoup d'argent...Pour la suite... à vous de le lire...

Book Wormy

The Music of Chance Paul Auster217 Pages★★★★This is a novel about luck and chance and how you can be in the right place at the right time and just as equally in the wrong place at the wrong time.At first it is slow going as we follow Jim Nashe on his road trip, however he picks up badly beaten Jack Pozzi and from there things take a sinister turn.The ending of the novel is abrupt and I would have liked more things clearing up, however I can appreciate that clearing them up would have detracted from the sinister feeling the story left me with.


This truly is an 'absurdist' novel. It's hard to describe the plot. A fireman's wife leaves him, and his life falls apart by his own choosing -- turning to driving incessantly across the country, abandoning his daugther to relatives, backing a professional poker play, who loses all of his money, resulting in their commitment to building a wall. It sounds crazy, but it's readable and I did come to care about the characters, although infuriated by their choices. Not sure why this writer is held in such high regard, based on this novel. Would try other novels of his.


This book left with so much thinking to do and had so many philosophical metaphors that I ended up pushing it on my friends, fully thinking that I had their best interest in mind. But when I actually, thought about it I realized that what I really wanted was someone to discuss the book with. I wanted to talk about the characters and the metaphor and what it was all really trying to say. Yeah, this is a fabulous book. It deals with existentialism, freedom and captivity, chance and coincidence and obsession. Most of all I feel this book deals with how one should live one's life. Whether to except things as they come or to struggle for what you want. Man, there's so much to this book. I'm just going to stop here, but don't miss this one.


Paul Auster is one of those artists who works around a reliable set of themes. Haruki Murakami, Martin Scorsese, and René Magritte are comfortably in this company as well. This isn't a bad thing, and I love all of these artists, but it means that I go into a Paul Auster novel with certain expectations, and I have a fairly good idea by now how things are going to turn out. This is also not a bad thing, as the journey to those end points in The Music of Chance is gripping and surreal and haunting, and I really, really didn't want it to end.

Frank Jude

The Music of Chance (1990) by Paul Auster was published about a year after Moon Palace, one of my favorite contemporary novels which I re-read and reviewed in March. I remember not being as favorably impressed by The Music of Chance when I first read it back in 1990, though its theme about the ultimate meaninglessness of the universe had its appeal for me as I was struggling myself with the attempt to make sense of the world.Like the protagonists of his New York Trilogy, and Moon Palace, but more completely and in fact, taking it about as far as one can go, The Music of Chance’s Nashe follows a rigorous and random process of renunciation that ultimately pivots on “a single blind turn of a card” in a poker game. This is a suspense novel in which the major actions are cross-country driving, a poker game and the building of a stone wall! And I was engaged the whole time even as memories of where the plot was taking me arose as I re-read this straight-forward tale.I’m not into running through the plot here, so all I’ll say is that after re-reading this novel, it has rocketed to the top of my favorite novel list. Along with Moon Palace, and perhaps even before that wonderful book, The Music of Chance is a great place to dive into the work of Paul Auster if you are not already familiar with his writing.

Ahmet Aslaner

THE THUNDER, PERFECT MINDTranslated by George W. MacRaeI was sent forth from the power, and I have come to those who reflect upon me, and I have been found among those who seek after me. Look upon me, you who reflect upon me, and you hearers, hear me. You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves. And do not banish me from your sight. And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing. Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard! Do not be ignorant of me. For I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am and the daughter. I am the members of my mother. I am the barren one and many are her sons. I am she whose wedding is great, and I have not taken a husband. I am the midwife and she who does not bear. I am the solace of my labor pains. I am the bride and the bridegroom, and it is my husband who begot me. I am the mother of my father and the sister of my husband and he is my offspring. I am the slave of him who prepared me. I am the ruler of my offspring. But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday. And he is my offspring in (due) time, and my power is from him. I am the staff of his power in his youth, and he is the rod of my old age. And whatever he wills happens to me. I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent. I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the word whose appearance is multiple. I am the utterance of my name. Why, you who hate me, do you love me, and hate those who love me? You who deny me, confess me, and you who confess me, deny me. You who tell the truth about me, lie about me, and you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me. You who know me, be ignorant of me, and those who have not known me, let them know me. For I am knowledge and ignorance. I am shame and boldness. I am shameless; I am ashamed. I am strength and I am fear. I am war and peace. Give heed to me. I am the one who is disgraced and the great one. Give heed to my poverty and my wealth. Do not be arrogant to me when I am cast out upon the earth, and you will find me in those that are to come. And do not look upon me on the dung-heap nor go and leave me cast out, and you will find me in the kingdoms. And do not look upon me when I am cast out among those who are disgraced and in the least places, nor laugh at me. And do not cast me out among those who are slain in violence. But I, I am compassionate and I am cruel. Be on your guard! Do not hate my obedience and do not love my self-control. In my weakness, do not forsake me, and do not be afraid of my power. For why do you despise my fear and curse my pride? But I am she who exists in all fears and strength in trembling. I am she who is weak, and I am well in a pleasant place. I am senseless and I am wise. Why have you hated me in your counsels? For I shall be silent among those who are silent, and I shall appear and speak, Why then have you hated me, you Greeks?Because I am a barbarian among the barbarians? For I am the wisdom of the Greeks and the knowledge of the barbarians. I am the judgement of the Greeks and of the barbarians. I am the one whose image is great in Egypt and the one who has no image among the barbarians. I am the one who has been hated everywhere and who has been loved everywhere. I am the one whom they call Life, and you have called Death. I am the one whom they call Law, and you have called Lawlessness. I am the one whom you have pursued, and I am the one whom you have seized. I am the one whom you have scattered, and you have gathered me together. I am the one before whom you have been ashamed, and you have been shameless to me. I am she who does not keep festival, and I am she whose festivals are many. I, I am godless, and I am the one whose God is great. I am the one whom you have reflected upon, and you have scorned me. I am unlearned, and they learn from me. I am the one that you have despised, and you reflect upon me. I am the one whom you have hidden from,and you appear to me. But whenever you hide yourselves, I myself will appear. For whenever you appear, I myself will hide from you. Those who have [...] to it [...] senselessly [...]. Take me [... understanding] from grief. and take me to yourselves from understanding and grief. And take me to yourselves from places that are ugly and in ruin, and rob from those which are good even though in ugliness. Out of shame, take me to yourselves shamelessly; and out of shamelessness and shame, upbraid my members in yourselves. And come forward to me, you who know me and you who know my members, and establish the great ones among the small first creatures. Come forward to childhood, and do not despise it because it is small and it is little. And do not turn away greatnesses in some parts from the smallnesses, for the smallnesses are known from the greatnesses. Why do you curse me and honor me? You have wounded and you have had mercy. Do not separate me from the first ones whom you have known. And do not cast anyone out nor turn anyone away [...] turn you away and [... know] him not.[...]. What is mine [...]. I know the first ones and those after them know me. But I am the mind of [...] and the rest of [...]. I am the knowledge of my inquiry, and the finding of those who seek after me, and the command of those who ask of me,and the power of the powers in my knowledge of the angels, who have been sent at my word, and of gods in their seasons by my counsel, and of spirits of every man who exists with me, and of women who dwell within me. I am the one who is honored, and who is praised, and who is despised scornfully. I am peace, and war has come because of me. And I am an alien and a citizen. I am the substance and the one who has no substance. Those who are without association with me are ignorant of me, and those who are in my substance are the ones who know me. Those who are close to me have been ignorant of me, and those who are far away from me are the ones who have known me. On the day when I am close to you, you are far away from me, and on the day when I am far away from you, I am close to you. [I am ...] within. [I am ...] of the natures. I am [...] of the creation of the spirits. [...] request of the souls. I am control and the uncontrollable. I am the union and the dissolution. I am the abiding and I am the dissolution. I am the one below, and they come up to me. I am the judgment and the acquittal. I, I am sinless, and the root of sin derives from me. I am lust in (outward) appearance, and interior self-control exists within me. I am the hearing which is attainable to everyone and the speech which cannot be grasped. I am a mute who does not speak, and great is my multitude of words. Hear me in gentleness, and learn of me in roughness. I am she who cries out, and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth. I prepare the bread and my mind within. I am the knowledge of my name. I am the one who cries out, and I listen. I appear and [...] walk in [...] seal of my [...]. I am [...] the defense [...]. I am the one who is called Truth and iniquity [...]. You honor me [...] and you whisper against me. You who are vanquished, judge them (who vanquish you) before they give judgment against you, because the judge and partiality exist in you. If you are condemned by this one, who will acquit you? Or, if you are acquitted by him, who will be able to detain you? For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashions you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you. And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment. Hear me, you hearers and learn of my words, you who know me. I am the hearing that is attainable to everything; I am the speech that cannot be grasped. I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name. I am the sign of the letter and the designation of the division. And I [...]. (3 lines missing) [...] light [...]. [...] hearers [...] to you [...] the great power. And [...] will not move the name. [...] to the one who created me. And I will speak his name. Look then at his words and all the writings which have been completed. Give heed then, you hearers and you also, the angels and those who have been sent, and you spirits who have arisen from the dead. For I am the one who alone exists, and I have no one who will judge me. For many are the pleasant forms which exist in numerous sins, and incontinencies, and disgraceful passions, and fleeting pleasures, which (men) embrace until they become sober and go up to their resting place. And they will find me there, and they will live, and they will not die again. James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.

Σπύρος Γλύκας

Ο Τζιμ Νας περιπλανιέται με το αυτοκίνητο του για περισσότερο από ένα χρόνο, ξοδεύοντας τα λεφτά που έχει κληρονομήσει απ΄ τον πατέρα του βιώνοντας την απόλυτη ελευθερία. Έχει παραιτηθεί απ’ τη δουλειά του, η γυναίκα του τον έχει εγκαταλείψει και έχει αφήσει την κόρη του στο σπίτι της αδελφής του, να ζει με μια άλλη οικογένεια.Και εκεί που τα χρήματα αρχίζουν να τελειώνουν συναντάει αναπάντεχα τον Τζακ Πότσι, ένα νεαρό τζογαδόρο. Ο Νας βρίσκει στο πρόσωπο του νεαρού τη λύση που αναζητούσε έτσι ώστε να μπορέσει να συνεχίσει την ατελείωτη περιπλάνησή του.‘Η μουσική του πεπρωμένου’ του PaulAuster είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που διαβάζεται ‘με μια ανάσα’. Ένα βιβλίο που ακροβατεί ανάμεσα στην εμπορική και στην ποιοτική λογοτεχνία με την ζυγαριά να γέρνει περισσότερο προς την τελευταία. Περισσότερα εδώ:

Carlos Bennett

Cuando era muy chico y en la televisión me dedicaba principalmente a ver el cartoon network, un día en la tarde puse HBO mientas comía pan con palta y empecé a ver una pelicula muy extraña. Habia dos tipos que viajaban hasta una mansión my tétrica para jugar poker con otros dos tipos mas tétricos aún que (por alguna razón) tenían una ciudad en miniatura construida dentro de su casa, y que entre otras extrencidades habían importado un castillo desde Europa (piedra por piedra: en el cesped enorme de su mansión estaban amontonadas las piedras). Los dos tipos (los protagonistas) pierden la apuesta en el poker, y como no tienen tanto dinero para pagar tienen que quedarse trabajando como casi-esclavos, construyendo con las piedras del castillo una pared que cruzara el enorme campo de pasto verde en las afueras de la mansión. Creo que fue la primera pelicula que vi con escenas de sexo implicito (era HBO a las 14:00 hrs no mas), con algo de violencia moderada pero sobre todo con un trasfondo super fuerte. La pelicula era rara. Me quedo pegadisima para siempre la escena en que Pozzi (el protagonista mas joven), después de que hubieran terminado parte del muro, caminaba por sobre él, feliz. Tiempo después, cuando ya me gustaba mucho Auster y me había leído casi todos sus libros, uno de los últimos que agarré fue este, y ahi recién me di cuenta de que estaba leyendo esa película (Doh). Este para mi es el mejor Auster. No soy un fanático de la primera época, la de la trilogia de Nueva York, cuando esta demasiado precocupado por existencialismos (a mi parecer) un poco baratos, con muchos artefactos literarios que parecen sacados de un libro de castellano. Tampoco me gusta la ultima época, desde Oracle Night (y sobre todo "Travels in the scriptorium"), en que lo unico que hace es mirarse el ombligo, escribir sobre-escritores-que-escriben-sobre-escribir y usar lugares comunes.Pero para mi tiene un periodo dorado, principalmente: La Musica del Azar, Leviathan y El palacio de la luna (este ultimo, ocasionalmente lo considero como mi libro favorito. En la historia). Y podriamos colocar a lo mejor Mr vertigo. Estos son los libros en que pareciera que deja que las imagenes que tiene dentro fluyan, sin ponerse a interferir él. Imagenes como la ciudad miniatura de la pareja bizarra en La Musica del Azar, o Pozzi feliz corriendo sobre el muro. O el viaje de M.S. Fogg a pie a través de l desierto americano en el Palacio de la Luna. O las estatuas explotando en Leviatán. O las 36 pruebas a las que es sometido el protagonista de Mr Vertigo por el maestro Yehudi.Auster tiene muchos detractores, y creo que muchas de las cosas que se dicen son ciertas. Los personajes son a veces increiblemente similares en todos los libros, y es cierto que su existencialismo a veces puede ser un poco adolescente y reiterativo, y que incluso a veces apela a la mistificación, sin realmente crear misticismo. Pero a mi en lo personal, que no leo los libros de literatura como ensayos, me parece que es el es escritor mas talentoso de su generación (teniendo en cuenta que el mas talentoso no siempre es el mejor). Un "natural". El mayor argumento que puedo dar es que ya pasaron varios años desde que me leí el libro, he leído desde entonces varios libros de Philip Roth, de McEwan y otros que supuestamente estan dos o tres pasos mas arriba en el canon oficial... y todavia me acuerdo mucho más de Pozzi corriendo sobre su muro. Recomiendo mucho este libro; es realmente hermoso.

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