The New York Trilogy: City of Glass/ Ghosts/ the Locked Room

ISBN: 0140169636
ISBN 13: 9780140169638
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

Paul Auster’s signature work, The New York Trilogy, consists of three interlocking novels: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room -- haunting and mysterious tales that move at the breathless pace of a thriller.

Reader's Thoughts

kaelan

First, a brief harangue. I can't help but noticing how often the word "pretentious" has been thrown around in the reviews for this book. What a bothersome word: pretentious. It's a lot like the word "boring," in that they both seem to fool the user into thinking that they mean something objective, when in fact they're highly subjective. Nothing is inherently boring, just as nothing is inherently pretentious. On the contrary, these words say a lot more about the speaker than they do about the thing they're supposedly describing.What does it mean, then, when someone calls a book "pretentious"? Let's dissect it. What they really seem to be saying is this: "I didn't find meaning in this book, therefore anyone who claims to have found meaning is not telling the truth." And this boils down to the following syllogism: "I am an intelligent reader; therefore anyone who is also an intelligent reader will share my opinion of this book; anyone who doesn't share my opinion, therefore, isn't an intelligent reader." A valid inference, no doubt, but hardly sound. This is because the whole argument hinges on one unavoidable fact: that by using the word "pretentious," one is implicitly assuming that they themselves are intelligent. And everyone knows that only dumb people think they're smart.So hate on Paul Auster all you want. Say that you found his plots predictable; say that you found his characters unsympathetic; say whatever the fuck you want. But don't call his writing—or his fans—"pretentious." Because that's just being lazy. And beyond that, it only makes you sound pretentious.City of Glass: *****Speaking of coincidences: I have this loose policy that whenever I'm reading a book of fiction, I also read something non-fiction; and in this particular instance, "City of Glass" was counterbalanced by David Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach.Now, it is not my aim to create a sort of synchronicity between any two books I have on the go at any certain time. In this case, my non-fiction choice was based solely on the fact that the book was immediately available.And yet, I was surprised by a number of similarities that arose between the two. First, both books explicitly mention the Tower of Babel (in fact, if you have a copy of the Penguin Deluxe Classics edition of the trilogy, they both even display artistic renderings of it). Both books also focus extensively on language—in particular, its relation to "reality." But perhaps most importantly, both explore the notion of systems (mathematical, artistic, etc.), as well as what it means to operate outside of said system.For Hofstadter, this means the ability to interpret a system in a way that isn't explicitly contained within that system, which is a crucial tool for any mathematician (or more specifically, any meta-mathematician). And it's a crucial tool for Paul Auster the writer too. In "City of Glass," he creates a "strange loop" (Hofstadter's term) between the world captured by the narrative and the one inhabited by the reader, with no clear line between them: the boundaries between what's real and what's fiction are masterfully blurred.Reading the novel, you almost begin to suspect that you were meant to be a character, that Auster probably viewed our world as identical (or at least isomorphic) to the one inhabited by Quinn, Stillman, et. al. And if that's not cool enough: by the end of the novel, Auster turns the tables again, and you finish feeling like every symbol of the story has to be reinterpreted, like the entire piece has undergone a semantic shift.Brainy, deep, fun and highly recommended.Ghosts: *****Reviewing these stories without spoiling them is kind of like trying to defuse a bomb: one with a lot of colourful and potentially unnecessary trip-wires. So in order to minimize the risk, I'm going to refrain from talking about any of the specifics of "Ghosts," and instead focus on my more general impressions of the novel.Here we are: I think it might be even better than "City of Glass." No wait, that can't be right. Because "City of Glass" was pretty fucking amazing. Really, I don't know; I was blown away by both. Indeed, it's true that harboured the fear, from the opening few pages, that the second installment of Auster's trilogy would be perhaps a little too cutesy, with the colour-names and all ("Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired by White to spy on Black..."). But I should have by then been aware that Paul Auster does everything for a reason. Or perhaps more specifically, when he does something for no reason, it's always for a good reason.Anyways, what I'm excited for now is finding out whether or not "The Locked Room" keeps up the trend...The Locked Room: ***** (???)I forget exactly where, but I believe it's in one of his letters that Plato writes, "your best ideas you don't write down" (or something to that effect). What he means, I believe, is that truth has a tendency to avoid complete linguistic formalization, that it avoids ever being "captured." This concept—or a similar one—was at the core of "City of Glass." But with "The Locked Room," Auster seems to be actually writing it, as opposed to just writing about it.This is because it's easy to see how things like the character of Fanshawe, his assorted sub-textual works, the "locked room, etc. all map onto aspects of the novel itself. And on a more general level, this serves to comment on our notions of self-hood, language and perception(s) of reality. In this way, The New York Trilogy is a philosophy book disguised as a piece of literature. And yet that's not entirely accurate, because it's hard—if not impossible—to imagine how it's contents could be conveyed in any other form than they are here.As Auster himself admits, the story found in "The Locked Room" is merely a facet of a larger one, one that permeates the entire trilogy. With "City of Glass," we were taken to the limits of language. "The Locked Room" performs a similar feat—less obviously, but perhaps more significantly. Auster gives us facts and he gives us names. And from these pieces we construct entire characters: Fanshawe, the unnamed narrator, even a Peter Stillman. But what does this mean? Who is Fanshawe? We are made aware, for instance, of a stark disjunction between pre- and post-disappearance Fanshawe. But with what authority can these two men be said to be the same person? And is anyone ever really just one person?Whenever you read a novel—although perhaps this one more so than most—you are engaged in a gathering and compiling facts. You are, for all intents and purposes, a detective: picking up clues, discarding others as irrelevant. And from these, you ultimately construct a cohesive narrative, a story. If you disagree with this sentiment, just think to the Peter Stillman who appears near the end of the novel. Who can help but wonder whether or not this is in fact the same Peter Stillman as was contained within the pages of "City of Glass"? For we, as readers, cannot help but straying from the text, escaping from its finite world. We draw connections, create links. Never is the text a self-contained entity. Ever.And Auster, it appears, has a keen understanding of this. So the question he seems to be asking is, what is the relationship between fact and fiction? Between name and thing? And when you finish the novel (both "The Locked Room" and the trilogy as a whole), you come to realize that it (the book) is forcing you to ask the very same thing of itself.

Colin

All the one/five star reviews for this book are pretty hilarious. New York Trilogy is pretty interesting. Exasperating? Absolutely. Silly? Definetly. Genius? Ehh. Let's not go crazy. 100% worth checking out? Yes. Seriously? One Star? One Star ratings should be applied judiciously. Ever have an aunt give you Tuesdays With Morrie? One Star. Did that girl you like tell you to read Ishmael? One Star. The New York Trilogy does not deserve One Star. Jesus. Bear in mind that I liked House of Leaves.

JC

If you like trite, obvious and sophomoric writing, this is the book for you...this could have been such a cool trilogy. It was painful every page...HOWEVER, this was recommended to me by someone I really respect(ed) when it comes to books..so some of you may think I'm crazy (most do anyway)

علياء

وأخيراً، انتهيت من قراءة رواية ثلاثية نيويورك"، واللافت أنها تشغل حيزاً في الذهن مهما كانت الانشغالات والأفكار وزحمة الأعمال. ويبدو أن الروائي بول أوستر مولع بالكراسات! ففي رواياته التي قرأتها "ليلة التنبؤ" و"في بلاد الأشياء الأخيرة" و"ثلاثية نيويورك" تطلّ علينا الكراسات بوصفها بطلاً أساسياً في الرواية، ومحوراً لا غنى عنه. في "ثلاثية نيويورك" بأجزائها: “مدينة الزجاج" و"الأشباح" و"الغرفة الموصدة" يبرع الروائي في لعبة أسماء الشخصيات، إذ يتكرر بعضها من جزء إلى آخر كـ"كوين" و"بيتر ستلمان"، ويبرع أيضاً في تداخل الأحداث وإيهام القارئ وإثارة خياله، إذ يخيّل إلينا بعد قراءة الجزء الأول "مدينة الزجاج" أن الأحداث عينها تستعاد على نحو تركيبي وزمني مختلف في "الأشباح" و"الغرفة الموصدة". يدخل الروائي إلى تفاصيل دقيقة في مدينة نيويورك وفي سلوك سكانها وعلاقاتهم الشخصية وأعمالهم. ويمكن أن نطلق على هذه الثلاثية رواية التساؤلات، فهي تتخذ من أسلوب التحرّي بمفهومه الواسع طريقة لفهم الحياة المعاصرة في نيويورك خصوصاً، وفي صياغة العمل الأدبي المعاصر بشكل عام. من وجهة نظري وجدت القسم الأول "مدينة الزجاج" أكثر شداً للانتباه، يليه القسم الثالث "الغرفة الموصدة"، بما يحتويه من تنبّه الروائي إلى التفاصيل، من قبيل هذا المقطع: "ظلّ المطر يهمي طوال اليوم، بل لقد أنذرت السماء بتساقط الثلج لدى بلوغنا بروفيدانس. وفي بوسطن ابتعت لنفسي مظلّة، وقطعت الميلين أو الأميال الثلاثة الأخيرة سيراً على الأقدام. ولاحت الشوارع كئيبة في الهواء الرمادي الضارب إلى الصفرة، وفيما انطلقت إلى ساوث إند لم أكد أقابل أحداً، إلا أحد السكارى ومجموعة من المراهقين وعامل إصلاح الهواتف وكلبين أو ثلاثة من الكلاب الضالة. وكان ميدان كولومبوس يتألف من عشر دور أو اثنتي عشرة داراً في صفّ واحد تطلّ على جزيرة مكسوّة بالحصى تعزلها عن الشارع العام" ص481، أما القسم الأوسط "الأشباح" فيغلب عليه التطويل. ويجدر بالذكر أن سرعة الأحداث تتباطأ بالترتيب، الإيقاع سريع جداً في الجزء الأول، أكثر هدوءاً في الثاني، أما الثالث فأشبه بسيرة شخصية بطيئة وممتدة لفانشو وصديقه.

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.

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.

Cody

At times The New York Trilogy strikes me as something like the movie Saw for intellectual types. People who enjoy Saw tell me that it "messes with your mind," when what they really like are the suspense and the gore. Readers who enjoy The New York Trilogy tell me that it "challenges your perception of reality" (the intellectual form of the above statement), when what they really like is all of the cleverness and the self-reflexive smartypants in-jokes. The plot and many of the images and devices in City of Glass are genuinely intriguing, but they feel haplessly strung together. The Locked Room feels the same, and Ghosts was even more disappointing, reading like a poor minimalist imitation of Borges. I have not given up on Auster, however. This is an early work and I have been told by fairly reliable sources that his writing improved steadily after this trilogy.

Jessica

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.

Paula

City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986): Meta as in metafiction, also metaphysics and metaphor. This is fiction about fiction, writing about the writer. Who’s writing whom? Who’s the author and who’s the imagined character? Auster's characters aren’t “real” people (even when they are autobiographical) in the sense that you might invite one over for dinner, but are real in the sense that you might imagine yourself dissolving into fiction, or have the sense that the self is fiction.These are stories that demand that the reader NOT check her brain at the door: disquieting, self-weary perhaps, not particularly plot-driven. They include elements of detective fiction, of mysteries and thrillers. Detective stories in the sense that characters follow one another around and spy on one another. Characters disappear and/or mirror one another: one “self” becomes the “other.” Everyone here is lost and almost no one is found. Who is trailing whom becomes undecidable or indecipherable. Characters disappear. We don’t know where they go and neither does the author.

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.

Abdullah

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.

Nancy Oakes

Absolutely stunning and superb. It is an incredible piece of writing that I probably will read again.There is an incredible wealth of discussion about this book available on the internet, so I won't go into detail here. There are three stories here (duh...three for trilogy). I absolutely will not be able to provide a synopsis for the book that will do it justice. Suffice it to say that this is one of the ultimate books out there of postmodern fiction, and that the writing is undeniably great. I would recommend it to those who aren't afraid of a challenge in their reading; it is not something you can skim or scan; every word is meaningful. Not something for casual reading at all.I loved this book, and the more I read by this author, the more I love his work. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading something incredibly different or those who like to ponder on the nature of existence and self.

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 .:(

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?

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