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The remarkable, acclaimed series of interconnected detective novels – from the author of 4 3 2 1: A Novel The New York Review of Books has called Paul Auster’s work “one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature.” Moving at the breathless pace of a thriller, this uniquely stylized triology of detective novels begins with City of Glass, in which Quinn, a myst The remarkable, acclaimed series of interconnected detective novels – from the author of 4 3 2 1: A Novel The New York Review of Books has called Paul Auster’s work “one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature.” Moving at the breathless pace of a thriller, this uniquely stylized triology of detective novels begins with City of Glass, in which Quinn, a mystery writer, receives an ominous phone call in the middle of the night. He’s drawn into the streets of New York, onto an elusive case that’s more puzzling and more deeply-layered than anything he might have written himself. In Ghosts, Blue, a mentee of Brown, is hired by White to spy on Black from a window on Orange Street. Once Blue starts stalking Black, he finds his subject on a similar mission, as well. In The Locked Room, Fanshawe has disappeared, leaving behind his wife and baby and nothing but a cache of novels, plays, and poems. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition includes an introduction from author and professor Luc Sante, as well as a pulp novel-inspired cover from Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic artist of Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers.


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The remarkable, acclaimed series of interconnected detective novels – from the author of 4 3 2 1: A Novel The New York Review of Books has called Paul Auster’s work “one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature.” Moving at the breathless pace of a thriller, this uniquely stylized triology of detective novels begins with City of Glass, in which Quinn, a myst The remarkable, acclaimed series of interconnected detective novels – from the author of 4 3 2 1: A Novel The New York Review of Books has called Paul Auster’s work “one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature.” Moving at the breathless pace of a thriller, this uniquely stylized triology of detective novels begins with City of Glass, in which Quinn, a mystery writer, receives an ominous phone call in the middle of the night. He’s drawn into the streets of New York, onto an elusive case that’s more puzzling and more deeply-layered than anything he might have written himself. In Ghosts, Blue, a mentee of Brown, is hired by White to spy on Black from a window on Orange Street. Once Blue starts stalking Black, he finds his subject on a similar mission, as well. In The Locked Room, Fanshawe has disappeared, leaving behind his wife and baby and nothing but a cache of novels, plays, and poems. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition includes an introduction from author and professor Luc Sante, as well as a pulp novel-inspired cover from Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic artist of Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers.

30 review for The New York Trilogy

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 thi 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    219. The New York Trilogy (New York Trilogy #1-3), Paul Auster The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume. The first story, City of Glass, features a detective-fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer 219. The New York Trilogy (New York Trilogy #1-3), Paul Auster The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume. The first story, City of Glass, features a detective-fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed "author" who reports the events as reality to "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story, to "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in the novel, to Peter Stillman the younger, to Peter Stillman the elder and, finally, to Daniel Quinn, protagonist. "City of Glass" has an intertextual relationship with Cervantes' Don Quixote. Not only does the protagonist Daniel Quinn share his initials with the knight, but when Quinn finds "Paul Auster the writer," Auster is in the midst of writing an article about the authorship of Don Quixote. Auster calls his article an "imaginative reading," and in it he examines possible identities of Cide Hamete Benengeli, the narrator of the Quixote. The second story, Ghosts, is about a private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White. Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work. Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black. The Locked Room is the story of a writer who lacks the creativity to produce fiction. Fanshawe, his childhood friend, has produced creative work, and when he disappears the writer publishes his work and replaces him in his family. The title is a reference to a "locked room mystery", a popular form of early detective fiction. سه گانه نیویورک - پل استر (افق) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: اول اکتبر سال 2010میلادی عنوان: سه گانه نیویورک: سه رمان پست مدرن: شهرِ شیشه ای؛ ارواح؛ اتاق دربسته؛ نویسنده: پل آستر؛ مترجم: شهرزاد لولاچی؛ خجسته کیهان؛ تهران، نشر افق؛ 1384؛ در 455ص؛ شابک 9643691578؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1387؛ چاپ ششم 1392؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20م مجموعه ای از سه رمان نویسنده ی «پست‌ مدرن» آمریکایی، «پل استر» است؛ این سه رمان که هر یک داستان جنایی و شخصیت‌های داستانی مجزایی از هم دارند، تنها به سبب مکان مشترک، سه گانه را تشکیل داده اند؛ عنوانهای این سه رمان، «شهر شیشه ای»، «ارواح» و «اتاق دربسته» هستند رمان «شهر شیشه ای» نوشته ی «پل استر» یکی از رمانهای «سه گانه ی نیویورک» است؛ در این داستان: «پس از یک تلفن عجیب در نیمه شب، دانیل کویین نویسنده داستانهای پلیسی درگیر پرونده ای میشود که از تمام کتابهایی که تا به حال نوشته است پیچیده تر است؛ دانیل که درگیر پرونده استیلمن شده، تا به آنجا پیش میرود که گذشته ی خویش را فراموش، و تمام هستی خویش را وقف نگهبانی از استیلمن میکند؛ نقل نمونه متن: «شب بود؛ روی تخت دراز کشیده بود، به صدای باران بر پنجره گوش میداد و سیگار میکشید، در فکر بود که باران کی بند میآید و صبح به پیاده روی طولانی خواهد رفت؛ کتاب باز شده ی سفرهای مارکوپولو روی بالش کنارش بود؛ از وقتی که دو هفته پیش آخرین رمان ویلیام ویلسون را تمام کرده بود، وقت گذرانی میکرد؛ راوی و کارآگاه داستانش، «ماکس ورک» معمای جنایات مفصلی را حل کرده، بارها کتک خورده و در لحظه ی آخر جان سالم به در برده بود، و انگار «کوئین» هم از تلاشهای او حسابی خسته شده بود؛ «ورک» در طی سالها به «کوئین» خیلی نزدیک میشد؛ برخلاف «ویلیام ویلسون» که هنوز نامی بیش نبوده، «ورک» بیش از پیش به حقیقت نزدیک میشد؛ در شخصیتهای سه گانه ای که «کوئین» پیدا کرده بود، «ویلسونِ» یاوه گو، «کوئینِ» آلت دست، و «ورک» صدای جانداری بود، که به تمام قضایا معنی میبخشید؛ «ویلسون» حتی اگر توهم هم بود، حیات آن دو دیگر را توجیه میکرد.»؛ پایان نقل رمان «ارواح» نوشته ی «پل استر»، دومین رمان کوتاه، از مجموعه ی سه گانه ی ایشان است، که بین سالهای 1985میلادی تا سال 1987میلادی منتشر شده است؛ «پل استر» نویسنده ی پست مدرن «آمریکایی» بار دیگر، ماجرایی پلیسی میآفریند که در بستر نگاهی فلسفی تحقق مییابد؛ «استر» موقعیتهای خلاقانه ای را، در روند داستان پیش میگیرد؛ او نه تنها، مشابه دیگر داستانهای کارگاهی-پلیسی، کارآگاه خصوصی را، به عنوان مغز متفکر مطرح نمیکند تا معمای داستان را کشف کند، بلکه از آن شخصیتی میآفریند، که همزمان، باهوش، و با درایت است، خود او نیز صرفا به جزئی از ماجرای معما بدل شده، و در آن حل میشود و اینگونه تراژدی داستان را رقم میزند؛ در این داستان فلسفی؛ با «آبی (کاراگاه خصوصی)» ماهری مواجهیم، که از سوی «سفید» مامور میشود، شخصی به نام «سیاه» را تحت نظر بگیرد، و هر هفته گزارشی از کارهای او تنظیم کند، و برای «سفید» بفرستد؛ «آبی» در روند ماموریت خود، رفته رفته درمییابد با پرونده ای راکد، و غیرعادی مواجه است، که در آن هیچ رویدادی رخ نمیدهد؛ «سیاه» هر روز پشت میزش مینشیند، و میخواند و مینویسد؛ ماهها میگذرند و «آبی» آنقدر «سیاه» را زیر نظر گرفته، که دیگر رفتارش شبیه او شده، و نیازی به مراقبت از او، در خود نمیبیند؛ گزارشها را طبق نظم همیشگی مینویسد، و برای «آبی» میفرستد، و در ذهنش، خیالپردازیهایی درباره ی «سیاه» میکند؛ «سفید» گزارشها را میخواند و دستمزد «آبی» را بدون هیچ توضیح، یا صحبتی برایش پست میکند؛ نویسنده در آخرین کتاب از سری «سه گانه نیویورک» خویش، با وارونه کردن داستانهای معمایی، نوع تازه ای از هنر روایت را آفریده است؛ ایشان در رمان «اتاق در بسته»، کنجکاوی خوانشگر اندیشمند خویش را، برمیانگیزد، و جستجوی پلیسی، و کارآگاهی، برای یافتن حقیقت را به جستجوی نابتر و فلسفیتر کاوش در هویت، بدل میسازد؛ «فنشاو» ناپدید شده است، و از او همسر، فرزند و مجموعه ای داستان، و شعر نمایشنامه بر جای مانده است؛ اما چرا راوی چنین وسواس آمیز، زندگی «فنشاو» صمیمی ترین دوست دوران کودکی خویش را میکاود؟ در «اتاق دربسته»، داستان از زبان اول شخص (نویسنده) روایت میشود؛ «فان شاو» که از دوستان قدیمی راوی کتاب است، به شکل عجیبی ناپدید شده؛ همسر «شاو» که از پیدا شدن او ناامید شده، و میپندارد که شوهرش مرده است، از راوی داستان، که او نیز نویسنده است، میخواهد تا دست نوشته ها، و آثار بر جای مانده از همسر مفقود شده را منتشر کند؛ ادامه ی آشنایی نویسنده با همسر «فن شاو»، به ازدواج آن دو میانجامد، اما با روشن شدن این حقیقت، که «فن شاو» زنده است، داستان مسیر دیگری پیدا میکند؛ راوی تلاش خود را برای یافتن وی آغاز میکند، و در آن مسیر، با زوایای شخصیتی، و زندگی او بیشتر آشنا میشود؛ روندی که به یک پایان نسبتا غیرمنتظره میانجامد. در آثار استر، ترکیبی از تفکرات روانشناختی و رگه هایی از پوچ گرایی و بدبینی دیده می شود؛ با اینحال وی در این زمینه راه افراط را نپیموده، و خوانشگر با خواندن «اتاق دربسته» دچار آشفتگی و دلزدگی نمیشود، اگرچه ممکن است در بخشهایی از داستان و در مواجه با برخی پیچیدگیها اندکی سردرگم شود؛ «اتاق دربسته» داستان سوم سه گانه نیویورک بشمار میآید؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 20/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Is The NYT three novels-in-one, or a single tome? Ah, well: That's four Auster "novels" in a row for me I guess... and, (not) interestingly enough, they were ALL very much alike (Oracle Night, The Glass City, Ghosts, The Locked Room). It's becoming clear that Auster has adopted very interesting themes, such as the transitory nature of fiction and reality; the writer's world manifested in a literal form; & the double... He writes in free-flow and non sequiturs. Yeah, I will be the first one to adm Is The NYT three novels-in-one, or a single tome? Ah, well: That's four Auster "novels" in a row for me I guess... and, (not) interestingly enough, they were ALL very much alike (Oracle Night, The Glass City, Ghosts, The Locked Room). It's becoming clear that Auster has adopted very interesting themes, such as the transitory nature of fiction and reality; the writer's world manifested in a literal form; & the double... He writes in free-flow and non sequiturs. Yeah, I will be the first one to admit that almost always his conclusions are not concrete (and they don't have to be) and will even venture to say that with the exclusion of "Timbuktu" his endings are all incredibly inelegant. But damn if he isn't readable! Even the writer's ego, a quality I deem somewhat lame when personified in literature doesn't bother me. Yeah, Auster is in love with New York, with the writer, & obviously with himself. But doesn't the saying go "Write what you KNOW"? And Auster, perhaps not really knowing how his novels will EVER end, does do something very admirable: He keeps the reader in a trance, submerging him/her in a world completely constructed from the marriage of the writer's everyday experience and his almost-visceral psyche.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    I have encountered a great many reviews that start with "I don't know how to begin this review". By this claim the reviewer expresses doubt, but the expression of these doubts is the immediate solution to the reviewer's predicament, making both the doubts and the claim kind of moot. I was thinking of starting off this review the same way, given that this book leaves you wondering about everything, but thinking about that as an option makes it also dishonest, because I would know where to start w I have encountered a great many reviews that start with "I don't know how to begin this review". By this claim the reviewer expresses doubt, but the expression of these doubts is the immediate solution to the reviewer's predicament, making both the doubts and the claim kind of moot. I was thinking of starting off this review the same way, given that this book leaves you wondering about everything, but thinking about that as an option makes it also dishonest, because I would know where to start with this review. Luckily I found a way around it so ta-da, here we go, smooth sailing, no over-explanation there at all! This book is a particular kind of great. It's unique in my view, but that's not saying much because my basis for comparison is rather small, so let me elaborate. "The New York Trilogy" is comprised of three stories. This is not surprising. It makes sense. This is also the point where the "sense" stops. That big box of "sense" you're so comfortable in, all snug and cosy and warm? This book is a bucket of cold water poured all over that adorable situation, making you jump out of the box, into a beautiful realm of wild and wondrous thoughts. The book starts with the quirky idea of the first story's protagonist being called up by a person looking for "Paul Auster". Hmmm, where have I seen that name? Daniel Quinn, a writer, the guy who has picked up the phone, decides to pretend he is in fact Paul Auster, a private investigator. A rather cute idea which is only the beginning of the story, and of a trilogy that becomes a very intricate riddle, with questions of identity and purpose pervading it. The author, the characters, the reader are all embroiled in these stories of stake-outs, shadowing, minicious observations and carefully planned investigations and what starts out as a seemingly cute gimmick of having the author's name as part of the story turns into an adventure you yourself become part of. You as a reader become the investigator. You'll get clues, but without the guarantee you'll get all of them. You'll get answers, but you'll have to find more by yourself. Paul Auster in bed, reading Paul Auster's novel, "The New York Trilogy", in New York City, New York. It's a book by Paul Auster, for Paul Auster, about several Paul Austers, including himself, Paul Auster, author otherwise known for rather austere writings. This book is immensely readable: the prose employed makes this novel a page-turner, the plot is always intriguing enough to keep one on his toes (understatement of the year). But it's difficult. It's like a Rubic's cube, only without the guarantee that it's actually solvable. To some readers, this is frustrating. To me, the beauty of this book is that I couldn't solve its mystery, despite convincing myself I have identified some parts of answers and some threads that connect everything. Paul Auster created one of literature's most beautiful riddles. It's a bit of a magic trick and any kind of reveal "given" to you would ruin it, so I'm not going to scour the Internet for solutions. What I am going to do, is try and solve it upon a re-read, but frankly I think I'll be a bit disappointed if I can. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because of the slight headache it gave me. This was probably a bit self-inflicted. I always want everything to fit. This book is like a puzzle box, but the pieces inside are from several different puzzles, none of them matching the picture on the box, and none of the puzzle-sets being complete. I tried stomping the pieces together, hence the headache. I'm planning to return to it and see if I can fill in the blanks somehow, this time without stomping on the pieces and without any headaches. I know I'll enjoy it all over again, but probably a bit differently, knowing what I think I know. This riddle-nature of the book is what makes it so unique: uniquely readable, uniquely challenging, uniquely re-readable, uniquely enjoyable. And very recommendable. All that having been said, I really don't know how to finish this review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Annet

    Baudelaire cited by Paul Auster in City of Glass: "Il me semble que je serais toujours bien là où je ne suis pas." In other words: It seems to me that I will always be happy in the place where I am not. Or, more bluntly: Wherever I am not is the place where I am myself. Or else, taking the bull by the horns: Anywhere out of the world. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.... 3.5 Baudelaire cited by Paul Auster in City of Glass: "Il me semble que je serais toujours bien là où je ne suis pas." In other words: It seems to me that I will always be happy in the place where I am not. Or, more bluntly: Wherever I am not is the place where I am myself. Or else, taking the bull by the horns: Anywhere out of the world. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.... 3.5 leaning towards 4... ah, my hate-love relationship with Paul Auster... I loved some of Auster's books, Brooklyn Follies, Book of Illusions.... but he always keeps me wondering. Like his 'Man in the Dark'. This NY Trilogy (City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room)... it's a crime noire novel... and it keeps you wondering what's going on. I read ShovelMoney1's review who says, 'a study on the watched and the watcher in a sort of claustrophobic ever decreasing circles format'. Good description. Auster's writing is rather pretentious at times, sort of bothers me, but it is also poetic, mysterious and that is where he draws me in.... City of Glass was a difficult start for me, had trouble getting through, including the rather pretentious pages of theories... I read some reviews here of City of Glass which were rather aggressively negative. Putting it mildly. I even considered stopping after that first one, but decided to read on and then the book got to me.... although I'm still thinking how much I liked it and what the h*** does Auster mean with those three stories that seem to make a full circle... Read it again maybe? Mmmmmm.... maybe. For now, Auster did get into my head, yet again. 'In three variants on the classic detective story, Paul Auster makes the well-traversed terrain of New York city his own, as it becomes a strange, compelling landscape in which identities merge or fade and questions serve only to further obscure the truth.' I stayed on in the house for a few more days. My plan was to do nothing for as long as I could, to rest up. I was exhausted, and I need a chance to regroup before going back to Paris. A day or two went by. I walked through the fields, visited the woods, sat out in the sun reading French translations of American detective novels. It should have been the perfect cure: holing up in the middle of nowhere, letting my mind float free. But none of it really helped. The house wouldn't make room for me, and by the third day, I sensed that I was no longer alone, that I could never be alone in that place. Fanshawe was there, and no matter how hard I tried not to think of him, I couldn't escape. This was unexpected, galling. Now that I had stopped looking for him, he was more present to me than ever before. The whole process had been reversed. After all these months of trying to find him, I felt as though I was the one who had been found...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Where does it all begin and where does it all end? But perhaps he would be able to make up for the past by plunging forward. By coming to the end, perhaps he could intuit the beginning. To seek we must have an object we want to find. To quest we must have a goal we want to achieve. But even if we don’t have an objective we seek and quest anyway because we want to penetrate into the future. Listen carefully, and perhaps you will learn something. In his little speech to Alice, Humpty Dumpty sketches Where does it all begin and where does it all end? But perhaps he would be able to make up for the past by plunging forward. By coming to the end, perhaps he could intuit the beginning. To seek we must have an object we want to find. To quest we must have a goal we want to achieve. But even if we don’t have an objective we seek and quest anyway because we want to penetrate into the future. Listen carefully, and perhaps you will learn something. In his little speech to Alice, Humpty Dumpty sketches the future of human hopes and gives the clue to our salvation: to become masters of the words we speak, to make language answer our needs. Humpty Dumpty was a prophet, a man who spoke truths the world was not ready for. How often pursuing a certain purpose we are on a wild goose chase. And even if we find something how often ot is not a thing we were looking for. Every tale of the trilogy is an existential quest embarking on which one must find one’s own ego. There are the watched and there are the watchers and there are those who watch the watchers…

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    I think this was my first encounter with Paul Auster, a man who I met through the cult of the 1001 books to read before you die list. Prior to that I was vaguely aware of Auster and his peculiar brand of love/loath inciting literature which had friends alternatively raging or swooning, but had never bothered my arse to go and see what all the fuss was about. Turns out I rather loved this - once I had progressed beyond the first forty pages. For the first forty pages I'd already rather rudely pig I think this was my first encounter with Paul Auster, a man who I met through the cult of the 1001 books to read before you die list. Prior to that I was vaguely aware of Auster and his peculiar brand of love/loath inciting literature which had friends alternatively raging or swooning, but had never bothered my arse to go and see what all the fuss was about. Turns out I rather loved this - once I had progressed beyond the first forty pages. For the first forty pages I'd already rather rudely pigeon-holed the book as "arty-wank", thinking to myself, Oh dear this looks like it is entering into pretentious toss territory. When I say entering I mean approaching the door marked pretentious toss and busting its way in using a battering ram made out of glued together copies of The Body Artist by Don DeLillo, then stepping over the wreckage of the door and striding to the middle of the room to stand on the podium of arty-toss-bollocks while waving its arms over its head..... but nope, turns out it's all good. Excellent trilogy, a study on the watched and the watcher in a sort of claustrophobic ever decreasing circles format which made my tiny mind spin, but in a good way, like the literary equivalent of an MC Escher drawing. In a complete about turn I then had to remove the book from the arty-wank pigeon hole and give it a little hug. This was followed by me then going out to purchase pretty much all of Paul Auster's books. Can't think for the life of me why I've not bothered to review more of them on Goodreads either. This one is deserving of a place on the 1001 books to read before you die list - just don't let the first forty pages fool you.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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 e 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    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 d 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?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Consummate Metafiction If you’re interested in reading just one example of metafiction, I can’t think of any better work than "The New York Trilogy" (except perhaps Thomas Pynchon’s "The Crying of Lot 49"). Paul Auster mightn’t get the same accolades as other writers of post-modern fiction, if only because he has built a loyal readership that doesn’t depend on post-modern academics and spin merchants: "This recognition by a non-academic community may account for the lack of critical attention Consummate Metafiction If you’re interested in reading just one example of metafiction, I can’t think of any better work than "The New York Trilogy" (except perhaps Thomas Pynchon’s "The Crying of Lot 49"). Paul Auster mightn’t get the same accolades as other writers of post-modern fiction, if only because he has built a loyal readership that doesn’t depend on post-modern academics and spin merchants: "This recognition by a non-academic community may account for the lack of critical attention given to The New York Trilogy." ("Paul Auster: Bloom's Modern Critical Views") Paul Auster’s fiction is innovative without making ostentatious claims to either inordinate length or gratuitous experimentalism. In fact, he seems to regard experiment as a mere transitional step on the way to perfection: "I never experiment with anything in my books. Experimentation means you don't know what you're doing." "When you become aware of what your limits have been so far, then you’re able to expand them. And every artist has limits. No one can do everything. It’s impossible. What’s beautiful about art is that it circumscribes a space, a physical and mental space. If you try to put the entire world into every page, you turn out chaos. Art is about eliminating almost everything in order to focus on the thing that you need to talk about." A Sense of Plenitude and Economy By these standards, the Trilogy is both beautiful and highly structured. At 314 pages, it’s totally focussed (it’s quite the opposite of chaotic maximalism or excessivism), yet, like the detective fiction or mysteries adored by the character Daniel Quinn, what appeals so much is its "sense of plenitude and economy": "In the good mystery there is nothing wasted, no sentence, no word that is not significant...The world of the book comes to life, seething with possibilities, with secrets and contradictions." An Organic Part of the Written Word The Trilogy is also a highly philosophical work. However, unlike most post-modern fiction, the philosophy is tightly wound into the structure or narrative of the novel. The philosophy is almost inseparable from the fiction itself. It’s no mere gratuitous insertion designed to contribute to either length or literary pretension. In other words, it’s both relevant and essential to the fiction: "Over the years, I’ve been intensely interested in the artificiality of books as well. I mean, who’s kidding whom, after all. We know when we open up a book of fiction that we’re reading something that is imaginary, and I’ve always been interested in exploiting that fact, using it, making it part of the work itself. Not in some dry, academic, metafictional way, but simply as an organic part of the written word." The Triple Meaning of the Private Eye This applies equally to the manner in which Auster co-opts elements of detective fiction to pursue his goals. In contrast to Robert Coover, he doesn’t just exploit genre conventions to house a story or myth he has invented. Auster sees detective fiction as related to the role of both the author and the reader. In the words of Quinn: "The detective is the one who looks, who listens, who moves through this morass of objects and events in search of thought, the idea that will pull all these things together and make sense of them. In effect, the writer and the detective are interchangeable. The reader sees the world through the detective’s eye, experiencing the proliferation of its details as if for the first time. He has become awake to the things around him, as if they might speak to him, as if, because of the attentiveness he now brings to them, they might begin to carry a meaning other than the simple fact of their existence. Private eye. The word held a triple meaning for Quinn. Not only was it the letter ‘i’, standing for ‘investigator’, it was ‘I’ in the upper case, the tiny life-bud buried in the body of the breathing self. At the same time, it was also the physical eye of the writer, the eye of the man who looks out from himself into the world and demands that the world reveal itself to him. For five years now, Quinn had been living in the grip of this pun." Each of the three novellas is a mirror image of a private eye novel (not to mention the works of Cervantes, Sterne, Poe and Hawthorne), only, this being Paul Auster, there is a "deft little twist" or reversal in the image. It can’t be and isn’t a perfect analogue of the real object. In the first story, the private eye is a crime writer who pretends to be the fictive detective Paul Auster, in order to accept an assignment. In the third story, a writer very much like the real Paul Auster becomes the literary executor of another writer who has disappeared, so the writer sets out to discover his whereabouts and for a while to write his biography. In the second novella, the real detective, Blue, progressively takes on the role of an author during the process of speculating about the reports he’s required to write for his client, White. The Perils of Invention and Make-Believe A detective (particularly in the police force) is a vital part of a legal process that aims to successfully prosecute the perpetrator of a crime. Thus, they must be concerned with the collection of facts that can be used to prove guilt. Paradoxically, fiction is a work of the imagination that does its best to appear real. It strives for verisimilitude and credibility: "Since this story is based entirely on facts, the author feels it his duty not to overstep the bounds of the verifiable, to resist at all costs the perils of invention." This statement is part of an almost Nabokovian game, because we readers know and understand that the whole novel is make-believe. Auster builds his metaphysics on the foundation of facts and empiricism, before embracing the challenge of metafiction. Speculating on the Other The author, the reader and the private eye alike take it upon themselves to peer into the world of the other: "If thinking is perhaps too strong a word at this point, a slightly more modest term - speculation, for example - would not be far from the mark. To speculate, from the Latin speculatus, meaning mirror or looking glass. For in spying out at Black across the street, it is as though Blue were looking into a mirror, and instead of merely watching another, he finds that he is also watching himself." Fiction is therefore a reflective process. Blue has previously thought of his own inner life in terms of darkness. Yet his pursuit of Black (no matter how confusing) has allowed him to channel some reflected light on his own self. Nevertheless, Blue gets caught up in the persona of an other (namely Black). Observed by Another So we have a scene in which Black is reading a book, and Blue is watching Black reading it. Inevitably, Blue speculates: "It seems perfectly plausible to him that he is also being watched, observed by another in the same way he has been observing Black." This other other might be another character in the fiction, or it might be us the readers (who begin and end outside the realm of fiction). Fiction entangles and ensnares the reader in a hall of mirrors, in which everybody is both watcher and watched: "They have trapped Blue into doing nothing, into being so inactive as to reduce his life to almost no life at all. He feels like a man who has been condemned to sit in a room and go on reading a book for the rest of his life." The Severity of Inwardness and Solitude Auster also approaches this dilemma from the perspective of the author, who turns their back on the real world in order to create a fictional world. A writer must learn to live with "the severity of his inwardness" and the consequences of his isolation. Perhaps the author doesn’t really exist outside the work of fiction, in that they vanish and become someone else when they’re not writing. They might also die when their writing is done: "What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook?" In the third novella, the author Fanshawe disappears, leaving behind a beautiful wife and child (Daniel), allowing his childhood friend (also a budding author) to take his place as loving husband and attentive father. Traditionally, detective fiction has reinforced the reader’s confidence in the power of logical analysis to solve a crime or understand the world (including the world within the book). Here, Auster uses the genre to create a work of fiction that questions the ability of logic and language to convey and understand the outside world and the other, not to mention oneself. The Trilogy is a book that constantly stimulated me while I was reading it, and already beckons me toward a re-reading. An image from the graphic novel "City of Glass" by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli SOUNDTRACK: (view spoiler)[ Robyn Hitchcock - "Beautiful Girl" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYfB4... Robyn Hitchcock - "Glass Hotel" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlxcH... Robyn Hitchcock - "Linctus House" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X4Sh... Robyn Hitchcock - "I Saw Nick Drake" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2tHV... (hide spoiler)] Virginia Stillman and the Two Misses Fanshawe [An Homage] Let me tell you a little about myself, so I can then move on and start this story at the beginning. When I first moved to Manhattan in 1985, I gravitated to Chelsea. This was a natural consequence of the fact that I had stayed in the Chelsea Hotel for two weeks in 1982 and had got familiar with the area. I found a small apartment in a three-storey brownstone walk-up that didn’t eat up too much of my savings. I sub-let it from Mrs. Jane Fanshawe, an attractive widow in her early 50’s, who lived in the building. Her daughter-in-law, Sophie Fanshawe, lived in her own apartment on the same floor as me. Her husband, Jane’s son, was a writer who had recently disappeared and was believed to have died. The only other tenant in the building was a woman in her late twenties called Virginia Stillman. Sophie had originally lived in my apartment, but moved to a larger one, when it became available, which left a vacancy that I agreed to fill. One night, soon after I moved in, I was just about to go to bed, when the phone rang. The person on the other end of the line asked, “Paul Auster?” The name wasn’t familiar to me. I responded, “No, Marvin Graye.” This happened a further three nights in a row, until finally I surrendered and said, “Yes.” “Good, Paul. The board has approved your fee. It wants you to keep the man across the road under surveillance. You will receive a weekly payment of $350, upon submission of a weekly report. Do you have a pen?” I did, and then wrote down the P.O. box number he gave me. Despite the late hour, I opened the curtain in my lounge, and used my new binoculars to spot the dark-haired man in the apartment on the third floor of the house across the road. He was sitting at a desk illuminated by an old anglepoise lamp. Unlike the previous nights I had seen him, he wasn’t writing in a red notebook. He was reading a book. When he turned the page, I could just make out that it was “Don Quixote”. My job was to document the man’s activities each week. For the first week, there was nothing much to report. I haven’t read it since school, but “Don Quixote” is a pretty long book. Besides, he didn’t seem to be reading it from cover to cover. He jumped around within the book, as if he was trying to find a particular passage or was trying to check something he had remembered. During the week, he received no visitors, nor, as far as I could tell, any phone calls. However, about 8pm on Friday night, there was a knock on the door, and an attractive woman I recognised as Virginia Stillman walked in, holding a bottle of champagne. When she handed it to him, he went to kiss her on the cheek. She moved her head, so that their lips collided in what seemed to start a passionate kiss. She nudged him towards the couch, where he spread out full-length on his back. Meanwhile, she walked over to the window and drew the curtains. I have no other verifiable facts about what happened this evening. The next Friday, when it was still light, I was surprised to see Sophie Fanshawe visit the man, who by now I inferred was a writer, despite how little writing he seemed to be doing, even compared with the amount entailed in the reports I had committed to. If Virginia Stillman had appeared to be forward, Sophie was even more enthusiastic. She walked into the bedroom, turned on a bedside light and started to remove her blouse. Then she looked out the window, through which it was quite possible that she could see me and my binoculars. She didn’t seem overly alarmed, although she walked over and closed the bedroom curtains. Sophie arrived at the writer’s apartment each night until the following Thursday, when she seemed to have an argument with him. Nobody drew the curtains this time, because Sophie left the apartment and slammed the front door, leaving the writer to resume his reading. I took this opportunity to go downstairs in the hope that I would cross paths with Sophie and see what condition she was in. I caught her just as she was entering our building. Although we hadn’t spoken much up to that point, I said I was going out for a drink at the local bar and asked if she was interested. She smiled courteously and replied that she would like to have, but she had to settle some business or other with her mother-in-law. The following night, Friday, I was surprised to see Mrs. Fanshawe (Jane) enter the writer’s apartment with a bottle of wine and what appeared to be a book wrapped in brown paper. The writer had set the dining table for a meal for two. He brought out a salad bowl, placed it on the table and opened the wine. It was a white, and Mrs Fanshawe seemed to drink it more voraciously than the writer, as if it was her favourite or something. As they consumed the salad, I could see that Mrs Fanshawe had placed her hand on the writer’s leg, and he had taken no steps to object, which was understandable from my point of view. Pretty soon, they too moved to the couch and drew the curtains, so that I was unable to witness what happened next, though I could and did imagine. By this time, I had written two reports and received two payments, which I banked in my account. The cheques were drawn by a well-known publishing company. I noticed that the writer had changed his reading matter. He had received some mail, and was now busy apparently transcribing what he had read into his red notebook. A year later, when I met him at a party hosted by Mrs Fanshawe, he gave me a copy of his latest novel. I had never met a novelist before, so I devoured the book quickly, stopping only to note the resemblance of some parts to the reports I had written. But then I suppose it was his life after all (if not his fiction as well).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    I'm surprised by some of the low and middling ratings this book and its three stories (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room) have received. Some characterise the stories as boring, derivative, simplistic, pretentious, or pointless. But for me, this is exactly the kind of book I love to stumble upon: one that surprises, and that seeks new and unconventional paths to expression. To me the writing suggests Calvino, Kafka, Borges, perhaps even Beckett and Sartre, without being derivative. This is I'm surprised by some of the low and middling ratings this book and its three stories (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room) have received. Some characterise the stories as boring, derivative, simplistic, pretentious, or pointless. But for me, this is exactly the kind of book I love to stumble upon: one that surprises, and that seeks new and unconventional paths to expression. To me the writing suggests Calvino, Kafka, Borges, perhaps even Beckett and Sartre, without being derivative. This is not to say that The New York Trilogy stands beside Beckett’s trilogy in terms of literary achievement - indeed much of the ground it treads has already been broken - but I believe that novels should be judged on their own merits, on the basis their own peculiar mix of intentions, constraints and products, without necessarily having to justify their existence by comparison to other works. I think this novel stands as an exceptional work in its own right. The New York Trilogy consists of three stories, which are distinct from each other but interact in direct and indirect, linear and nonlinear ways. There is a lot of thematic overlap between the stories, and even a fair amount of repetition. Each story could be thought of as a parallel retelling of the same story, or perhaps an examination of the same set of questions from a related viewpoint. At the core of the stories is a questioning of identity. What does it mean to exist as an individual, separate from others? What does it mean to be oneself and not someone else? What, if anything, can it mean to live a meaningful life? There is an examination of the limitations of literature and the written record. The novel compares accounts of real and fictitious lives, and demonstrates more similarity than difference between the two, revealing a reflective quality to what is real and not real, a determination based more on perception than objective truth. It's an interesting perspective. The stories develop so as to always avoid the next logical narrative step. There is a subversion of purpose, of cause and effect, and loss of natural sequence (which I expect is a cause of frustration for some readers). Yet in this absence of narrative logic, these stories latch on to something else, a more intuitive and direct kind of logic. I would characterise them less as coherent narratives than as meditations. The experience is one of detached observation and interpretation, like allowing one's thoughts to arise and pass, or dropping a pebble into a pond and watching the ways the ripples distort the reflection. The prose is direct and unspectacular, which supports this kind of reading, as do the dark and ambiguous thematic implications; the lack of resolution or redemption. I was surprised by this novel - it was not at all what I had expected - and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. At the very least it inspired me to finally pick up a copy of Don Quixote and add it to my reading list.

  12. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Life is too short to re-read a book, but someday I will give time for this one. The reason is that I assumed that the book being a trilogy is composed of 3 totally unrelated stories since I read in the write up that the stories were published one at a time in a weekly magazine in the 80s. However, to my surprise, at the end of the 3rd story – The Locked Room (which by itself was the best among the 3) – it was revealed that the detective looking for Fanshawe was the main character in the first st Life is too short to re-read a book, but someday I will give time for this one. The reason is that I assumed that the book being a trilogy is composed of 3 totally unrelated stories since I read in the write up that the stories were published one at a time in a weekly magazine in the 80s. However, to my surprise, at the end of the 3rd story – The Locked Room (which by itself was the best among the 3) – it was revealed that the detective looking for Fanshawe was the main character in the first story, The City of Glass. So, I had to think back on how the three stories relate to each other but I could not really figure out how the second – Ghosts – fit into the whole story as the main characters were named after colors – Blue, Black, Brown and White. I agree with what they say that Paul Auster contributed to American literature by having a totally different writing style – the mixed up identities, the infusion of psychological insights into the narratives (Don Quixote for example in the second story) and even witty practical advises to the reader (you have to slow down to appreciate literature – to which I am a bit guilty because I have been reading books one after the other). If you want to read a intelligent yet entertaining book, make it this one!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “The story is not in the words; it's in the struggle.” ― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy REVIEW 1: City of Glass An interesting PoMo novella. Auster's first novel/second book/first of his 'New York Trilogy', 'City of Glass' is simultaneously a detective novel, an exploration of the author/narrative dynamic, and a treatise on language. I liked parts, loved parts, and finished the book thinking the author had written something perhaps more interesting than important. My favorite parts were the chap “The story is not in the words; it's in the struggle.” ― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy REVIEW 1: City of Glass An interesting PoMo novella. Auster's first novel/second book/first of his 'New York Trilogy', 'City of Glass' is simultaneously a detective novel, an exploration of the author/narrative dynamic, and a treatise on language. I liked parts, loved parts, and finished the book thinking the author had written something perhaps more interesting than important. My favorite parts were the chapters where Auster (actual author Auster) through the narrator Quinn acting as the detective Auster explored Stillman's book: 'The Garden and the Tower: Early Visions of the New World'. I also enjoyed the chapter where Auster (character Auster) and Quinn (acting as detective Auster) explored Auster's (character Auster) Don Quixote ideas. Those chapters reminded me obliquely (everything in City of Glass is oblique) of Gaddis. In the end, however, it all seemed like Auster had read Gaddis wanted to write a PoMo novel to reflect the confusing nature of the author/narrator/translator/editor role(s) of 'Don Quixote', set it all in Manhatten, and wanted to make the prose and story fit within the general framework of a detective novel. He pulled it off and it all kinda worked. I'll say more once I finish the next two of the 'New York Trilogy'. REVIEW 2: Ghosts An uncanny valley of Gaddis IMHO. 'Ghosts', the second book in Auster's 'New York Trilogy' reminds me what I both like and don't like about MFA writers. Often clever and grammatically precise but they don't say so much. If they were painters their perspective would be perfect and their posters would sell, but the pigment or texture or something between the edges is just missing that undercurrent of something to give a real shit about. REVIEW 3: The Locked Room Not much to add that I haven't already written in my reviews of Auster's first two 'New York Trilogy' novels. In 'The Locked Room' Auster dances with the same themes, with slightly different variations. The novellas are more brothers to each other instead of cousins. In a lot of ways he reminds me of an earlier generations' Dave Eggers. There is definitely a lot of talent latent in the guy. He certainly can write, but unlike Fitzgerald who was able to tell a similar themed story in his novels and still provide weight. I just didn't feel the gravity. It was like Camus couldn't really decide whether to kill the Arab, didn't know if he cared or not, so he just walked around and killed himself but made the Arab watch. I don't know. That may not be right. I'll probably just delete this review anyway. Only Otis will read it and I've asked him to delete all my reviews he doesn't like anyway. How do I guarantee this? Well, I could talk about Otis. I could tell you that there are things about author Auster, unrelated to his books I just don't like (who lives in NY Anyway?). He is a bad behaving author (untrue). He keeps sending me his manuscripts and wants me to say nice things about his work (untrue). I don't know. Is Auster married? Maybe, I'll go and console his wife now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster - three captivating postmodern novels published back in the mid-1980s. Here's my write-up of each individually: CITY OF GLASS - Book 1 City of Glass reads like Raymond Chandler on Derrida, that is, a hard-boiled detective novel seasoned with a healthy dose of postmodernist themes, a novel about main character Daniel Quinn as he walks the streets of uptown New York City. I found the story and writing as compelling as Chandler's The Big Sleep or Hammett's The Mal The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster - three captivating postmodern novels published back in the mid-1980s. Here's my write-up of each individually: CITY OF GLASS - Book 1 City of Glass reads like Raymond Chandler on Derrida, that is, a hard-boiled detective novel seasoned with a healthy dose of postmodernist themes, a novel about main character Daniel Quinn as he walks the streets of uptown New York City. I found the story and writing as compelling as Chandler's The Big Sleep or Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and as thought-provoking as reading an essay by Foucault or Barthes. By way of example, here are three quotes from the novel coupled with key concepts from the postmodern tradition along with my brief commentary. On the first pages of the novel, the narrator conveys mystery writer Quinn's reflections on William Wilson, his literary pseudonym and Max Work, the detective in his novels. We read, "Over the years, Work had become very close to Quinn. Whereas William Wilson remained an abstract figure for him Work had increasingly come to life. In the triad of selves that Quinn had become, Wilson served as a kind of ventriloquist, Quinn himself was the dummy, and Work was the animated voice that gave purpose to the enterprise." ---------- Michel Foucault completely rejected the idea that a person has one fixed inner self or essence serving them as their individual personal identity. Rather, he saw personal identity as defined by a process of on-going, ever changing dialogue with oneself and others. ---------- And Quinn's interior dialogue with Work and Wilson is just the beginning. As the novels progresses, Quinn takes on a number of other identities. In his role as hired detective (quite an ironic role since Quinn is a fiction writer and has zero experience as a detective), he goes to Grand Central Station to locate a man by the name of Peter Stillman, the man he will have to tail. This is what we read after Quinn spots his man, "At that moment Quinn allowed himself a glance to Stillman's right, surveying the rest of the crowd to make doubly sure he made no mistakes. What happened then defined explanation. Directly behind Stillman, heaving into view just inches behind his right shoulder, another man stopped . . . His face was the exact twin of Stillman's." ---------- The double, the original and the copy, occupies the postmodernists on a number of levels, including a double reading of any work of literature. Much technical language is employed, but the general idea is we should read a work of fiction the first time through in the conventional, traditional way, enjoying the characters and the story. Our second reading should be more critical than the first reading we constructed; to be good postmodernists, we should `deconstruct' the text to observe and critically evaluate such things as cultural and social biases and underlying philosophic assumptions. And such a second reading should not only be applied to works of literature but to all our encounters with facets of contemporary mass-duplicated society. "As for Quinn, it is impossible for me to say where he is now. I have followed the red notebook as closely as I could, and any inaccuracies in the story should be blamed on me." ---------- One key postmodern idea is that a book isn't so much about the world as it is about joining the conversation with other books. ---------- Turns out, the entire story here is a construction/deconstruction/reconstruction of a book: Quinn's red notebook. Life and literature living at the intersection of an ongoing conversation - Quinn's red notebook contains references to many, many other books, including Diary of Marco Polo, Robinson Caruso, Holy Bible, Don Quixote, Baudelaire. And the story the narrator relates from Quinn's red notebook is City of Glass by Paul Auster. Again, Raymond Chandler on Derrida. One final observation. Although no details are given, Quinn tells us right at the outset he has lost his wife and son. Quinn's tragedy coats every page like a kind of film. No matter what form a story takes, modern or postmodern or anything else, tragedy is tragedy and if we empathize with Quinn at all, we feel his pain. Some things never change. GHOSTS - Book 2 Ghosts (1983) reads like the square root of a hard-boiled detective noir novel, an off-the-wall, bizarre mystery where there is no crime and the whodunit is replaced by a meditation on the nature of identity. Here are the opening few line: "First of all there is Blue. Later there is White, and then there is Black, and before the beginning there is Brown. Brown broke him in, Brown taught him the ropes, and when Brown grew old, Blue took over." Blue is a detective and it is Blue we follow on every page of this sparse (less than 100 pages) novel set in 1947 New York City. To gain an initial feel for the novel, please go to Youtube and watch a snippet of one of those 1940s black-and-white noir films, like The Naked City. You will see lots of hard-talking tough guys in gray suits and gray hats running around city streets socking one another in the jaw and plugging one another with bullets -- plenty of action to be sure. And that's exactly the point - a world chock-full of police, detectives, crooks and dames is a world of action. But what happens when one of those 1940s detectives is put on a case where all action is stripped away, when the only thing the detective has to do is look out his apartment window and keep an eye on a man across the street in another apartment sitting at his desk reading or writing? This is exactly what happens in Ghosts. So, rather than providing a more detailed synopsis of the story (actually, there is some action and interaction), I will cite several of Blue's musing along with my brief comments on Blue's relationship to literary and artistic creation: "Until now, Blue has not had much chance for sitting still, and this new idleness has left him at something of a loss. For the first time in his life, he finds that he has been thrown back on himself, with nothing to grab hold of, nothing to distinguish one moment from the next. He has never given much through to the world inside him, and through he always knew it was there, it has remained an unknown quantity, unexplored and therefore dark, even to himself." --------- So, for the first time in his life, Blue is given a taste of silence and solitude, the prime experience of someone who is a writer. "More than just helping to pass the time, he discovers that making up stories can be a pleasure in itself." ---------- Removed from the world of action and building on his experience of silence and solitude, Blue is also given a hint of what it might mean to be a fiction writer, one who sits in isolation, exploring the inner world of imagination in order to create stories. And, on the topic of stories, the unnamed narrator conveys how Blue reflects on many stories, including the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, stories from the lives of Walk Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, and several stories Blue reads in his all-time favorite magazine: True Detective. Auster's short novel is teeming with stories. "For the first time in his experience of writing reports, he discovers that words do not necessarily work, that it is possible for them to obscure the things they are trying to say." ---------- Blue discerns it is possible that words cannot adequately articulate the depth and full range of human experience. And what is true of a detective's report is truer for works of great literature: there is a rich, vital, vibrant world of feeling and imagination beyond the confines of words and language. "Finally mustering the courage to act, Blue reaches into his bag of disguises and casts about for a new identity. After dismissing several possibilities, he settles on an old man who used to beg on the corner of his neighborhood when he was a bog - a local character by the name of Jimmy Rose - and decks himself out in the garb of tramphood . . ." ---------- During the course of the novel, Blue take on a number of different identities and with each new persona he experiences life with a kind of immediacy and intensity. Spending a measure of his creative life as a screenwriter and director, Paul Auster undoubtedly had many encounters with actors thriving on their roles, energized and invigorated as they performed for the camera. I suspect Auster enjoyed placing his detective main character in the role of actor at various points. Ghosts can be read as a prompt to question how identity is molded by literature and the arts. How dependent are we on stories for an understanding of who we are? In what ways do the arts influence and expand our sense of self? Do we escape purposelessness and boredom by participating in the imaginative worlds of art and literature? THE LOCKED ROOM - Book 3 “It seems to me now that Fanshawe was always there. He is the place where everything begins for me, and without him I would hardly know who I am.” So begins The Locked Room. We encounter the narrator, a writer by profession, navigating the choppy waters of passion and commitment, forever brooding on an entire range of topics: life and death, self and other, childhood and memory, friendship and fatherhood, love and hate, reading and writing, self-definition and self-identity. In a strange, offbeat way, all the philosophic reflections and ruminations give Auster’s short novel an irresistible drive. Fanshawe was a writer, leaving boxes of novels, journals, poetry and plays to be read and judged. Fanshawe also leaves his beautiful wife, Sophie, and his baby boy. Sophie contacts the narrator, who was Fanshawe’s dearest friend, to do the reading and judging. To tell more than these few facts would be to tell too much. Let me simply say that once I started reading The Locked Room, I couldn’t put it down. American author Paul Auster, born 1947

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paula Koneazny

    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 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    There are books where you say to yourself "it just don't get better than this," and The New York Trilogy is one of those. Trying to explain is futile -- this one you have to read for yourself. Even if you don't make it past City of Glass, you will find some of the best thought, best brain-expanding reading, and the best postmodern writing of an author who examines identity, narrative, language and who truly plays with reader expectations. But do read the entire book - it is beyond excellent. Rec There are books where you say to yourself "it just don't get better than this," and The New York Trilogy is one of those. Trying to explain is futile -- this one you have to read for yourself. Even if you don't make it past City of Glass, you will find some of the best thought, best brain-expanding reading, and the best postmodern writing of an author who examines identity, narrative, language and who truly plays with reader expectations. But do read the entire book - it is beyond excellent. Recommended especially for Borges fans.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    I can't write anything about this novel. This isn't some predictable, pitiful attempt to make an opening. I literally can't write anything about it. I've been squeezing my mind over it since yesterday, but no. Read it. I can't write anything about this novel. This isn't some predictable, pitiful attempt to make an opening. I literally can't write anything about it. I've been squeezing my mind over it since yesterday, but no. Read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    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 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    I quite enjoyed this trilogy. Originally published as three separate volumes - City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986) are separate stories, though linked by events and characters. City of Glass is about Daniel Quinn, a writer of mystery novels, which he publishes under a pseudonym. In the middle of the night Quinn receives a phone call. The caller asks for Paul Auster, of Auster Detective Agencies; though he rightly states that he's not Auster and hungs up, the call intrig I quite enjoyed this trilogy. Originally published as three separate volumes - City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986) are separate stories, though linked by events and characters. City of Glass is about Daniel Quinn, a writer of mystery novels, which he publishes under a pseudonym. In the middle of the night Quinn receives a phone call. The caller asks for Paul Auster, of Auster Detective Agencies; though he rightly states that he's not Auster and hungs up, the call intrigues him. When some time passes and the telephone rings again, again asking for Auster, Quinn doesn't hesitate, and names himself as the detective, and takes up an intriguing case. Thus begins a dreamlike story of identity and consciousness, where the borders between reality and fiction are slim, if any. Ghosts is about a private detective named Blue, who's tailing a character named Black, though who really might be watching who is never revealed. A bit dragging and confusing after a pretty straightforward City of Glass, it's the Two Towers of this trilogy, though thankfully it reads much faster. The Locked Room, the concluding installment, might be the best of the lot. A man called Fanshawe disappears, leaving behind his pregnant wife and a whole stack of papers, and a message to his childhood friend to take care of it. The friend is a writer who suffers from a writer's block; he decides to publish the manuscripts under Fanshawe's name, and soon after marries his wife and replaces Fanshawe in the family. But that's just the beginning, as his life is slowly completely changing in ways he never thought it would. These three losely connected short novels are genuinely disquiteting and delightful in their loose connections; characters appear and disappear, and more is lost than found. It's never clear who is the watcher and who the watched. The closest comparison I can think up is a David Lynch film where more questions are unanswered than not. Still, the experience of reading is satysfying; full of broodings about the nature of art and existence, with ubiquitous tropes. The writing style is not confining and especially pretentious; might revisit this in the future.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lubinka Dimitrova

    “But the present is no less dark than the past, and its mystery is equal to anything the future might hold. Such is the way of the world: one step at a time, one word and then the next.” The elaborate setup, leading to the open ending finale, the utter ambiguity of the three stories, might have been frustrating in the hands of a lesser author. I really enjoyed Auster's beautiful prose. As a reader, you (vainly) try to grasp the meaning of this whole book, though, in Auster’s view (or at least in “But the present is no less dark than the past, and its mystery is equal to anything the future might hold. Such is the way of the world: one step at a time, one word and then the next.” The elaborate setup, leading to the open ending finale, the utter ambiguity of the three stories, might have been frustrating in the hands of a lesser author. I really enjoyed Auster's beautiful prose. As a reader, you (vainly) try to grasp the meaning of this whole book, though, in Auster’s view (or at least in his narrator’s view), sense cannot be made of the story of anyone’s life. Perhaps the best summary of Auster’s point is the narrator’s synopsis of Fanshawe’s work: It is as if Fanshawe knew his final work had to subvert every expectation [the reader has] for it. I'll be reading more of his books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    Video review The Trilogy of Detective Novels That Are Really About Semiotics (New York, Not So Much) Video review The Trilogy of Detective Novels That Are Really About Semiotics (New York, Not So Much)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shek

    For me, this was a problematic book, fraught with numerous problemats. For one thing I have a grievance with any book that expects the reader to slog halfway through it before any rewarding aspects begin to surface. I sympathize entirely with anyone who quits before getting to that point, since I very nearly did exactly that. Also, I kept hearing that part I, "City of Glass", was the high point, and that afterward it went downhill. When I was halfway through "Ghosts" (part II) I would have comple For me, this was a problematic book, fraught with numerous problemats. For one thing I have a grievance with any book that expects the reader to slog halfway through it before any rewarding aspects begin to surface. I sympathize entirely with anyone who quits before getting to that point, since I very nearly did exactly that. Also, I kept hearing that part I, "City of Glass", was the high point, and that afterward it went downhill. When I was halfway through "Ghosts" (part II) I would have completely agreed with that sentiment, since I thought "City of Glass" was kind of a drag with some highlights, and "Ghosts" initially did everything in its power to make me want to set the book on fire and drop it into a chasm. But whoever was saying that either did quit halfway through, or is just plain wrong. The Trilogy improves so dramatically in part III that it might as well be a different book, even as [SPOILER?:] it's built on the ruins of the first two parts and arguably linked to them indelibly. However, I honestly don't think Auster needed to write it that way, and while you can argue that the third part's power is cumulative, that you've got to pound through the first two wondering whether you were being mind-fucked or just pointlessly bored in order to win the prize at the end, I absolutely do not agree. After all that I do believe Auster is a great writer, but he needs to cut out this cutesy-poo monkeyfart "meta" crap and just make a damn story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aryan

    Words don't change, but books are always changing. Different things change constantly, people change, they find a book at the right time. And that book answers something,a need,a wish. Paul Auster In this novel, Paul auster deals with strolling, chaos, straying, and distressing the outer and inner spaces of modern urban life. And that urban life is full of change and man loses himself in these changes. Common points of the story: 1. In all three stories the main character seeks to solve a riddle. A Words don't change, but books are always changing. Different things change constantly, people change, they find a book at the right time. And that book answers something,a need,a wish. Paul Auster In this novel, Paul auster deals with strolling, chaos, straying, and distressing the outer and inner spaces of modern urban life. And that urban life is full of change and man loses himself in these changes. Common points of the story: 1. In all three stories the main character seeks to solve a riddle. A puzzle that does not exist at all. 2. Chances and random events play a major role in the fate of the characters. 3. Identity (self) and its variations are the main themes of all three stories. پل استر در این رمان به پرسه زنی،هرج و مرج،گم گشتگی و پریشانی فضای بیرونی و درونی زندگی مدرن شهری می پردازد. و اینکه زندگی شهری پر از تغییرات است و انسان خودش را در این تغییرات گم میکند. نقاط مشترک داستان: 1.در هر سه داستان شخصیت اصلی به دنبال حل یک معما هستند.معمایی که اصلا وجود ندارد. 2.شانس و رویداد های تصادفی نقش عمده ای در سرنوشت شخصیت ها دارد. 3.بحث هویت(خود) و تغییرات آن درونمایه اصلی هر سه داستان است.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    My first Auster. Read at the urging of McCaffery's 100. Very pleased with it. Not blown out of the water nor struck by any particularly new paths for fiction. But nonetheless time well spent. Will welcome more Auster in the future of course but don't anticipate myself getting carried away and immersed as I often enough do. I'll describe briefly a reflection. Reading this I had the experience of not anticipating where the next sentence was headed so my eyes and attention remained where they should, My first Auster. Read at the urging of McCaffery's 100. Very pleased with it. Not blown out of the water nor struck by any particularly new paths for fiction. But nonetheless time well spent. Will welcome more Auster in the future of course but don't anticipate myself getting carried away and immersed as I often enough do. I'll describe briefly a reflection. Reading this I had the experience of not anticipating where the next sentence was headed so my eyes and attention remained where they should, word to word ; sentence to sentence. This in stark contrast to my recent experience skim=reading a 400 page novel in a few hours wherein I seemed to see coming exactly what was what appeared next, the next word the next sentence not needing to be read because the previous words and sentences predicted them completely. Also in contrast in the other direction, that experience of reading I deeply treasure and seek out, that experience of utter bafflement, not only not anticipating the next sentence, the next word, but not even anticipating what I've already read, not fully comprehending what the hell is going on and where we're headed and where we've been. Sentences which can be read and reread and which not only don't become easily interpreted into banalities but which on each revisit would or do deepen the bafflement. The art of fiction is not 'complete and full understanding, full grasping and mastering' but rather that experience of deepening the estrangement, befuddlement. This one experiences in texts like Finnegans Wake and Prae and Women & Men and Larva. This is what I want out of fiction, language which moves with the depth and complexity and infinity of a Bach or Beethoven or Wagner. Auster is a good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Auster's trilogy of stories are basically the same story with a different slant. Written in the guise of a detective story : man seeks man but is really seeking himself and the nature of his being? All very metaphysical/existential if you like that sort of thing, but highly readable. Auster's trilogy of stories are basically the same story with a different slant. Written in the guise of a detective story : man seeks man but is really seeking himself and the nature of his being? All very metaphysical/existential if you like that sort of thing, but highly readable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    For a work that starts so strongly, The New York Trilogy descends into banal gibberish remarkably quickly, and continues in this mode until its unsurprising, unenlightening denouement. Presumably the result of the young Auster having improvised his opening in a fever-dream, put it aside, and then felt constrained but uninspired to continue it at a later date, this opening section is a small marvel of verbal invention and imagination, and entirely worthy of the two other would-be masters that pos For a work that starts so strongly, The New York Trilogy descends into banal gibberish remarkably quickly, and continues in this mode until its unsurprising, unenlightening denouement. Presumably the result of the young Auster having improvised his opening in a fever-dream, put it aside, and then felt constrained but uninspired to continue it at a later date, this opening section is a small marvel of verbal invention and imagination, and entirely worthy of the two other would-be masters that possibly inspired it: Peter Handke (in the play Kaspar) and Werner Herzog (in the film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser). That this sub-genre (of the child locked in the room and forced to develop or not develop its own language) is essentially a cliche is not a problem; in fact it helps to propel us into the story, and when couched in terms of the book's other cliches (the crime novelist-become-detective, the Calvino-esque metafictional first few pages) it is made to shine in a whole new light (a light that is absent from those other Kaspar Hauser-ist character studies). Still, it's brief. Auster, a Beckett disciple, seems to pay homage to his hero and quickly decide it's not worth the effort, and from then on it's as if he's given in to an early, disillusioned middle-age. The prose is wooden, the concepts shallow, the plot non-existent. Every promising lead is forgotten. As to the idea of New York as a setting, forget it - this could be anywhere. Is Auster making comment on the post-modern city's anonymity, or is it just an accident of publishing/marketing that put these three fairly unrelated pieces together and called them a trilogy? Late in the book - in 'The Locked Room' - he offers a trite and unconvincing explication of the 3 pieces as a trilogy, a typically Austerian author's-voice intrusion which feels like an afterthought and does nothing but break the admittedly tenuous flow. By now every mistake of the young over-reaching storyteller has been committed repeatedly. 'Show don't tell'? Nope, Auster's determined to tell - and just in case you miss his meaning he'll spell it out for you. To a degree, I feel for him. The whole idea of this alter-ego (Fanshawe) who disappears bequeathing a lot of unfinished manuscripts to our narrator who has always idolised him - I mean it's the whole fever-dream inspired-opening-without-a-follow-up scenario in a nutshell, right? And in a way it's an admirable way to tackle the situation - head-on, with a maximum of self-awareness. The type of idea a thousand writers have probably had ever since they first read Borges's 'Pierre Menard' or Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler or even Tristram Shandy. But if there is a lesson to be learnt here it's 'APPROACH WITH CAUTION'. Self-referential becomes vacuous so easily! From memory I have read this thing twice now, despite my bad first impression. Why? Because I want to like Auster. He makes you feel as if maybe, one day, he'll stumble upon some revelation. But ultimately maybe he's just too conflicted - capable of inspired passages but too in thrall to the demands of the professional author. You ask me, almost everything he writes has a stilted unnaturalness that bespeaks either lack of sufficient editing or straight-up not keeping his eye on the ball. Moon Palace was passable; The Music of Chance was almost alive; in Oracle Night he just about convinced me he was on the verge of saying something, but when it wasn't forthcoming I gave up and didn't look back. Perhaps tellingly, I came to Auster via a chapter from his early pseudonymous crime novel Squeeze Play, which was included by Michael Dibdon in The Picador Book of Crime Writing, and this piece shone (I thought) more than almost anything in that anthology save Raymond Chandler, or anything Auster has written since. Is this whole subsequent heir-to-Beckett/poet-laureate-of-New-York 'literary' schtick just a case of Auster taking himself too seriously? It might be. As an aside, does anyone else find Auster's infrequent but jarringly out-of-key sexual passages disturbing? I think it's the way he narrates them so matter-of-factly, usually in a single sentence, after obsessing over trivial details for pages. It's almost as if some bolt of self-expression suddenly breaks through all the consciously-impersonal meandering. Stillman puts 'his worm' in 'whores' who 'squirm'. The narrator of 'The Locked Room' 'finds' himself opposite an exquisite Tahitian prostitute in Paris. Most disturbingly, in The Music of Chance, Nash (the hitherto eminently-sensible adult protagonist) falls obsessively in love with a prostitute brought into his life by the younger, reckless Pozzi - nothing wrong with that, but it's so glossed-over, so abrupt, working only as a plot-device, that again I'm forced to wonder if it's some unwanted intrusion from Auster's personal life that he has tried to edit out of existence only to be thwarted by its necessity to the plot. Equally as repellent is the scene in 'City of Glass' where Quinn meets Paul Auster's wife, whom Auster-as-narrator eulogises in vomit-worthy tones as if (I can't help thinking) asking forgiveness for those other scenes. Maybe I'm reading this wrongly - certainly Auster gives us little to aid in our interpretation of these stylistic hiccups - and I'm not suggesting he should excise all sexuality from his writing. At least not on principle. But, well, either explore it meaningfully or, yes, excise it. Beckett did without it, after all, whatever went on in his personal life. As it is, it just feels to me as if every 200 pages or so Auster opens his trench-coat to compulsively reveal his naked prick then hides it away again and pretends it never happened. Embarrassing all round.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    My first experience of Paul Auster, and the reason I started reading a whole lot more. A singular vision of how to take a piece of mystery detective writing and completely turn it on it's head, that will reel you in and hold your attention throughout. Three stories in one, all linked, to the theme of identity, existence and the symbolic nature of what makes us tick. Auster uses his great knowledge of New York brilliantly. A puzzling, addictive and strangely suspenseful masterpiece from one of Am My first experience of Paul Auster, and the reason I started reading a whole lot more. A singular vision of how to take a piece of mystery detective writing and completely turn it on it's head, that will reel you in and hold your attention throughout. Three stories in one, all linked, to the theme of identity, existence and the symbolic nature of what makes us tick. Auster uses his great knowledge of New York brilliantly. A puzzling, addictive and strangely suspenseful masterpiece from one of America's most talented and daring writers, it's not my favourite Auster, however it's the one that will be remembered the most, and look forward to reading again.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) In a few weeks I'm going to have the opportunity to read Paul Auster's surprise new novel, 4 3 2 1, which has already been gathering up tons of accolades from early reviewers; but I've never actually read any work by Auster before, so I thought I'd start with the very first thing he published, The New York (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) In a few weeks I'm going to have the opportunity to read Paul Auster's surprise new novel, 4 3 2 1, which has already been gathering up tons of accolades from early reviewers; but I've never actually read any work by Auster before, so I thought I'd start with the very first thing he published, The New York Trilogy which originally consisted of three separate small novels in the 1980s, but is now only sold as a one-volume set (but more later on why this is). And that's when I discovered the big surprise -- that far from the dowdy, boring academic writer I had thought Auster was all these years, based exclusively on the types of people who like his work and what they have to say about it, he instead turns out to be this incredible penner of so-called "New Weird" stories, the kinds of books that first became popular during the second half of Postmodernism precisely for being hard to define -- part literary, part horror, part mystery, part science-fiction -- and that have since become a staple of our current popular culture here in the 21st century. And indeed, I don't know why it took so long for all this to click in my head, given how long I've been a fan of some of these writers, but reading Auster for the first time made me realize that there's actually a whole wing of popular writers sort of buried within the second half of the Postmodernist era who can be described this way, including Thomas Pynchon, Jon Crowley, Haruki Murakami, Tim Powers and more; and that since what these authors were trying to accomplish was so new and so hard to define, the literary world has ended up sort of looking at these writers in completely different ways based on the person (Pynchon is considered an academe who's lucked into some popular success; Crowley is considered a genre writer who has lucked into some academic respectability), instead of seeing them as parts of a much larger "New Weird" movement that unifies everything they've been doing over the last forty years. For those who don't know, the term was invented by Jeff VanderMeer in the '90s, as a riff off the old term "Weird" from the Victorian Age; back then there were no such things as separate categorizations for "science-fiction" and "noir" and "horror," so basically anything metaphysical was thrown into this general catch-all label, which then encouraged writers to freely flow from one trope to the other within a single book. It was only in the Modernist period of the early 20th century, VanderMeer argues, that these genres became calcified and started developing their rigid rules that authors weren't allowed to deviate from; but what Postmodernism gave us was an explosion of these rules (as well as every other rule about "proper writing" that had been invented up to then), allowing a new generation of authors to once again go in and blend these genres together in interesting and unique ways. And although VanderMeer was specifically talking in his case about the newest generation of genre writers who were just starting to become popular in those years -- people like Charles Stross, China Mieville, Cory Doctorow and more -- I'm coming to realize that you can actually go back an entire generation to see the formation of this New Weird school of thought, one that got its start in the experimental hippie years of the countercultural era, but that didn't really come into its own as a cultural force until the Reagan years of the 1980s. That's exactly what makes these first three novels by Auster so intriguing, certainly, that they're so hard to traditionally describe; ostensibly detective tales, in which private investigators are hired by shady clients to track down nebulous targets, all three of these books start getting weirder and weirder the further in you get, eventually becoming treaties on identity, the power of naming things, and how the concepts of Transcendentalist thought from the 1800s do or do not particularly fit in the Electronic Age of the late 20th century. The more you read, the less you understand what's going on, and soon the books pick up a creepy vibe much more akin to horror than pulp fiction; but the explanation behind this creepy vibe is much more like sci-fi than horror, even as the books never just come out and explicitly state that something metaphysical is actually happening, leaving it a question as to whether our narrators are perhaps simply going insane from existential dread, a clear reference to the work of HP Lovecraft. Then in the third book, The Locked Room, Auster adds an even more complicated twist to it all, by having a certain character reveal that there's actually these strange nebulous ties between the characters in all three novels; and by the time we're done with the whole thing, we realize that all three books are simply large chapters within the same shared universe and uber-plotline, which is why since the '90s they've only been published anymore as one large volume. Make no mistake -- Auster is essentially the American Murakami, one who even started writing at almost the exact same time as the other, and anyone who's a fan of that Japanese genre master will automatically be a fan of his American equivalent, no question about it whatsoever. And that raises an intriguing question, of why Murakami has become a millionaire superstar by the 21st century, as well as other New Weird writers like Thomas Pynchon finally now being classified as the complicated, genre-bending authors they are, while Auster forty years later is still mostly considered an obscure academic writer who can only be loved by erudite professors? I don't have an answer to this, because it's clearly not the case -- anyone who loved the old TV shows Lost or Twin Peaks, for example, will also love Auster's books, and it certainly doesn't take an MFA to understand what he's trying to do -- and it's my hope that his newest novel, his first in seven years and one being published when he's 70 years old, will finally start turning the tide a bit when it comes to his public reputation. He's an author who deserves to have a much wider audience than he currently does, a writer who would be loved by millions of sci-fi fans if they simply knew about his existence in the first place; and I encourage all of you genre fans to go and check out some of his work when you have a chance, a surprisingly gripping and easy-to-read author who will leave you wanting more. We'll see in a few weeks how he's held up as a writer in the forty years since these debut novels; but for now, I for one plan on checking out a wide range of his subsequent oeuvre when I have a chance, and I encourage you to do the same.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    It is not because of “City of Glass” that I am continuing into the second book of this trilogy; it is because the second installments are contained between the same covers and I neglected to bring an alternate book to the office. It takes hard work to make detective stories dull and to suck the intrigue out of mystery; but Auster seems to know how it’s done. It seems like he had just finished grad school and was filled with the conviction that contriving a book around concepts masquerading as ch It is not because of “City of Glass” that I am continuing into the second book of this trilogy; it is because the second installments are contained between the same covers and I neglected to bring an alternate book to the office. It takes hard work to make detective stories dull and to suck the intrigue out of mystery; but Auster seems to know how it’s done. It seems like he had just finished grad school and was filled with the conviction that contriving a book around concepts masquerading as characters who stumble around in symbolic relationship to each other would give readers a wonderful chance to engage with his totally unoriginal thinking on millennia old matters such as chance and free will. His digressions into the age of exploration and the origins of language are entirely forgettable. I hate books that hinge on cleverness; but I pity books that aspire (how ambitious) towards cleverness and fail, ever, to arrive there.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Graham

    Identity. Reality. Certain other mysteries perhaps best left unexamined. Spooky shit...

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