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The Book of Illusions - 24
How do you come across new authors? Often it's through recommendations or word of mouth, often through reviews on the internet or in newspapers and magazines. Paul Auster came to my attention through a contestant on Mastermind who chose the author as her specialised subject which I found intriguing, So I dug a few books out from the public library and turned to this one first.
I found it highly readable and entertaining and it's one of those books that you just know is deeper than it appears. It is a novel that leaves you thinking long after you realise it is much more than a story of a desperate academic thrown into the gravest depths of despair by the death of his wife and sons in a plane crash.
David Zimmer finds solace in the work of a long overlooked silent movie star Hector Mann who went missing presumed dead many years before. Through Zimmer's research we learn about the films and the life of Mann - a life that in many ways mirrors Zimmers. Then suddenly Zimmer is provided with evidence that Mann isn't dead, but seriously ill. Also Mann is living with a number of secrets.
We learn about Mann's life through a series of flashbacks and Auster's portrayal of small town American life is excellent and possibly the highlight of the book for me. Gradually it unfolds that Mann has actually produced many additional films and Zimmer gets the chance to view them and possibly re-assess Mann's value. The question is will he get to see the films before it is too late.
This is a stylish novel that isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea but it is a thought provoking piece of work that certainly made me want to read more. It deals with numerous themes including loss, love, friendship, passion, exploitation and of course illusions.
Mr Vertigo - 23
My second Paul Auster book and this one grew on me the further I read. It's a very unusual story about a young boy in the USA who is taught to levitate. I don't want to give too much of the plot away but it follows his successes and failures, high and low spots. In many ways it read like a surreal tale.
There is a typically gritty American feel to the story. At first I found myself having little sympathy with the characters but once I got to know them I began to empathise. It's a world of gin palaces, brothels, gangsters, hucksters, baseball players, but a place where love and compassion and friendship win through despite murders and killings. There is an underlying goodness about the story despite the inherent violence.
Squeeze Play 1982
The New York Trilogy - City of Glass 1985, Ghosts 1986, The Locked Room 1986
In the Country of Last Things 1987
Moon Palace 1989
The Music of Chance 1990
Oracle Night 2004
The Brooklyn Follies 2005
Travels in the Scriptorium 2006
Man in the Dark 2008