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Ghosts (The New York Trilogy, #2)
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Ghosts (New York Trilogy #2)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,359 ratings  ·  140 reviews
The second book in the acclaimed New York Trilogy--a detective story that becomes a haunting and eerie exploration of identity and deception. It is a story of hidden violence that culminates in an inevitable but unexpectedly shattering climax.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published July 7th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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Spectral Titles
30th out of 230 books — 39 voters
The New York Trilogy by Paul AusterMoon Palace by Paul AusterThe Book of Illusions by Paul AusterThe Brooklyn Follies by Paul AusterOracle Night by Paul Auster
Best Paul Auster Books
20th out of 21 books — 68 voters


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Community Reviews

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Glenn Russell

Paul Auster's `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
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Bob Redmond


In the first volume of the NY trilogy (CITY OF GLASS), Auster explored identity and language. In this second, his fractal inquiry turns towards the question of authorship and, by necessity, readership.

The plot runs on one level (like the first book) as a detective story, summarized neatly from the back cover thus: "Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired by White to spy on Black. From a rented room on Orange Street, Blue keeps watch out his window, making notes about his subject, who sits acros
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Nikki
Reading Ghosts, I had the bizarre feeling, the whole time, that I'd read the story before. That I'd read about this premise being played out somewhere else. In any case, I think I've got more of a handle on the kind of story Paul Auster is telling. It's definitely not a clear-cut detective novel -- I didn't expect it to be, but some people tried to read it and the first book, at least, in that way.

It's oddly absorbing despite the quiet feel of it; I read it more or less in one sitting. It's very
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Darwin8u
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.
Jim Leckband
Jan 17, 2012 Jim Leckband rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Postmodern Addicts
Auster is playing with you from the start. When you are given characters name Black, White and Blue, you know you are in a realm of unreality. Since I just finished the first book in the New York Trilogy (City of Glass) I knew Auster was really infatuated with the author/reader/book "space" where what was of interest to him was not the plot/characters/"point" of the novel, but in how the reader responds to what he reads of the author's words, in how the reader re-formulates the story/characters ...more
Tommy
Could it be possible that Auster learned from his weaknesses? The first thing any reader of City of Glass would notice about this second installment is the sophomore effort is still shorter! Weighing in at only 96 pages, I wondered how many crises of existence Auster would try to cram into this one: love in the twentieth century; how far the hand of God reaches toward earth; life after death? But no, Auster sailed through this more complete and better work by picking up on his earlier theme of ...more
Vit Babenco
“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.”
To spy is a burden... To watch a man from day to day is an onus... Especially if a man does practically nothing. Then the watcher begins to imagine stories to make the life of the watched and one’s own more interesting.
But the main thing is who watches the watcher? And that’s where all the psychological games beg
...more
Daniel Parks
First of all there is Blue. Later there is White, and then there is Black, and before the beginning there is Brown... That it is how it begins.

Auster brings the meta with the second book in his New York Trilogy. The writer spys on the writer, the reader spys on the writer spying on the writer, who is also the reader because through the course of spying on the writer the writer reads his own story.

Ghosts at times can feel a bit like what would happen if a brilliant writer was given a high school
...more
Farnoosh Noroozi
پیشگفتار اول کتاب به قلم سرکار خانم «خجسته کیهان» مترجم کتاب، کمک شایانی به درک و تحلیل هر سه داستان کتاب کرد.

"در آثار اُستر، قهرمان رمان در دایرهای به تجسس میپردازد که رفته رفته کوچکتر میشود. نمایش تحقیق کوچک میشود و کارآگاه را به خودش باز میگرداند."
"در واقع اُستر تنها به دو عنصر اساسی از ژانر رمانهای پلیسی میپردازد: اسرار و تحقیقات؛ دو عنصری که قصه را آغاز میکنند و در خوانندهی امروزی که با قراردادهای رمان پلیسی آشناست، انتظار را میآفرینند. (…) ولی سومین عنصر در آثار اُستر غایب است و آن مرحلهای
...more
Mary Overton
Auster strips down the detective story to its essential nature - the Outsider watching Others, the quest for identity, the revelation of secrets, the communication of that which is forbidden to say. One way to read GHOSTS is as an inner drama -- a dialog among the many aspects of the Self.

"To speculate, from the Latin speculatus, meaning to spy out, to observe, and linked to the word speculum, meaning mirror or looking glass. For in spying out at Black across the street, it is as though Blue wer
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Mary
This is the second novel in the author's New York Trilogy, the first of which, City of Glass, was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America's "Edgar" award. Here, a private eye named Blue is hired by White to follow and report on Black. Blue's problem is that Black does little more than sit at a table in his Brooklyn Heights apartment and write. Months pass and Blue can stand the non-activity no longer. He begins to intervene in Black's life and learns that Black too is a private detective wh ...more
Rosy
Mặc dù là truyện ngắn nhất trong bộ ba, ấn tượng của tôi về nó là: chậm chạp và buồn ngủ. Ít nhất là cho đến đoạn này:

Chính vì vậy mà một đêm nọ Lam đã quay lại với cuốn Walden hắn mua dạo nào. Đã đến lúc rồi, hắn tự nhủ, nếu hắn không cố bây giờ, hắn biết hắn sẽ không bao giờ đọc được cuốn sách đó. Nhưng đọc cuốn sách không phải là việc đơn giản. Khi Lam bắt đầu đọc, hắn cảm thấy như đang bước vào một thế giới xa lạ. Bì bõm qua những đầm lầy và bụi rậm, cố đứng vững trên những sườn núi đầy đá v
...more
Olga Sullivan
The loneliness and sadness are what this story is infiltrated with. And this is not bad at all. As the first book of the trilogy also has such an aftertaste, I believe it says a lot about the author himself. Also, the author's imagination has to be complimented as well as his ability to develop such a full-bodied plot with only two - roughly speaking- characters imprisoned voluntarily by one another in their rooms whose main activity comes down to - roughly speaking - sitting behind their desks ...more
Leo Walsh
Here is a sound-bite review. "Well written. Creative and playful, using the detective genre to explore identity... But who cares?"

Like City of Glass , I found Ghosts disappointing. Perhaps more so. And I think I narrowed the reason down...

These books are told by disembodied narrators. There is no visceral reaction. People's hearts don't thunder as they stumble upon their cheating fiances. They don't nod off, snap awake and do a double-take when they do boring, repetitive tasks. Like watching
...more
Gabrielr
I expected and hoped that this book being the second book in The New York Trilogy was going to help tie up and loose ends to City of Glass however it was a completely different story. However I did enjoy this story much more then City of Glass and the twists about Mr. Black at the end were unexpected and enjoyable however the ending about what happened to Blue was unsatisfactory just like the ending to City of Glass.
A.M.
And the metaphysical mystery continues ... I love how Auster's The New York Trilogy is ranked on Flavorwire as one of the Fifty Essential Mystery Novels That Everyone Should Read.

For you lovers of the mystery novel, this is not your ordinary case. For one, it will never be solved, because it's of the mind and concerns the mystery of our existence.

Ghosts, Part Two of the Trilogy, is about Black, White and Blue. Here is an exchange to give you a flavor of the novel:

Black turns away, unable to look
...more
Beverly
Wonderful short story (part two of The New York Trilogy). In some ways almost the same story as part one, but I found it more satisfying in the end. Can we watch ourselves and actually learn anything?
Rodrigo Curicó Fernández
Lo terminé de leer de mala gana. No sé si haya sido mi falta de interés en la historia o la falta de peso de la msima, pero confundí todo el tiempo a Azul y Negro y Blanco y etc. Innovadora idea la de usar colores en vez de nombres, supongo, pero en mí caso sólo contribuyó a enredarme aún más. El dramatismo del final no me llegó para nada. Los devaneos mentales del protagonista no se aferraban a nada que pudiera imaginar o sentir como suele ocurrir con otras novelas (otras novelas del mismo auto ...more
C.S.  Ferrier
This is only the third book I've read by Auster, and he's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

I love to savor his books. I love the references in the books. In City of Glass he heavily referenced Don Quixote. In Ghosts, it was Walden. He uses these references to tell the story, engage the reader, and impact the way you actually read the book. Once both references were introduced, it has a way of slowing you down. It allows you to savor the books more.

The mystery and intrigue of this book
...more
Rebecca
I usually LOVE Auster books.........but this one I just found tedious. Maybe it's just my head space right now.
Cindy
This is an allegory for many relationships- fraught with ambiguity and false starts.
Brijesh Patel
The folw of the story is so consuming, that it's very hard for anyone to put the book aside. It's that the thought-train hops from events & memories & incidents so quickly & absurdly, that sometimes you miss to comprehend the context yet those points come where things make sense. All in all, it was a good weekend read.
(view spoiler)
...more
Anne Claire
Pour ce deuxime livre de sa Trilogie new-yorkaise, Paul Auster met en scne d'autres personnages que ceux de Cit de verre. Les protagonistes ici se nomment Blanc, Bleu et Noir. Mais deux d'entre eux sont nouveau des dtectives privs et leurs tribulations New York mettent une fois encore en vidence la prcarit de l'identit en mme temps que les trs pervers effets de miroir du destin. De telle sorte que l'impitoyable filature, laquelle on demeure suspendu comme dans les meilleurs thrillers, nous ra ...more
WaiThain
I didn't the hangover ending to be interesting, so I thought that Blue should recieve some kind of internal pain and a punishmnet for himself. “It’s past midnight when Blue gets back to his room across the street” (231). He thinks that he can get away with killing Black, but he is wrong. He stands in front of the bathroom for more than an hour and keeps thinking what a fool he is. Not only is he confused, but he is also scared. Blue feels that this is not the end; there is probably more White an ...more
Samantha
This short story, Ghosts, I did not enjoy very much, because of how vague everything is. No one in the story really has an actual name, but colors. The whole story was slightly confusing, because in the end, you never get to know why Black had set up Blue, and what his intentions were. Stories should always tell the reader the intentions of all the main characters, to get a better understanding/feel for the story and the characters. Not knowing why Black was White, or what he was doing to Blue m ...more
Riona
Part 2!

This is a completely different novel than City of Glass , but it follows similar themes. Once again, this is at its heart a detective story with a postmodern twist. However, unlike the first book in the New York Trilogy--where the surreal and uneasy feeling grows gradually--in this installment, it's immediate from the first page that this is going to be a playful, unique novel when we're introduced to the characters who all have color names. (I briefly wondered if this might be an inspir
...more
Ümit
Boşuna en sevilen eseri değilmiş Paul’ün. Gerçekten muhteşem. Zaten bu kadar harika olduğunu tahmin ederek son sıralara atmıştım bunu; ve iyi ki de atmışım. Zira bakın ne oldu: Diğer birçok kitabını okudum bu herifin, ve bu üçlemede, bunların birçoğunun minik minik kırıntılarını bulmak, aldığım hazzı daha da artırdı. Ay Sarayı‘ndan Kırmızı Defter‘e (direkt isim olarak hem de), Yazı Odasında Yolculuklar‘dan -bundan önce yazılmış olsa da- Köşeye Kıstırmak‘a kadar. Hele de Cebi Delik... Zaten son r ...more
Jason Edwards
Took me three days to read this novel. Blame it on the weekend—I’m busier on weekends. Blame video games, football games, other distractions. Blame City of Glass, which impressed me in no way. Blame mostly this so-called existentialism. I guess I just don’t get it. I take no pride in that ignorance, you know. Ghosts is sixty pages of I don’t know what. (Is that even a novel. Is that even a novelette. Should I not be reviewing these titles individually).

All of the characters have colors for name
...more
Angela
So the "trilogy" (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room) is really just one book. Like it doesn't even make sense to review them separately.

And um, wow. Crazy & interesting & clearly with SO much going on below the surface. (Now that I know how everything ties together, I may need to read it again to really get it.) Dream-like & spooky & incredibly well-written.

From a Washington Post Review - "Ever since City of Glass, the first volume of his New York Trilogy, Auster has perfect
...more
Labeeb Xaman
I found this story more interesting than 'City of Glass'. From the beginning, I was hooked. At first I didn't like the names of the characters that much but later I didn't care that much. The other thing I didn't like was that, for me, the ending was either incomplete or unclear. I didn't understand why Black did that to Blue and whether future Mrs. Blue was angry because he didn't make any contact for a long time or because White or Black told her something negative about Blue.
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Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Ac ...more
More about Paul Auster...

Other Books in the Series

New York Trilogy (3 books)
  • City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, #1)
  • The Locked Room (The New York Trilogy, #3)
The New York Trilogy The Brooklyn Follies The Book of Illusions Moon Palace Invisible

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“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.” 5 likes
“They have trapped Blue into doing nothing, into being so inactive as to reduce his life to almost no life at all. Yes, says Blue to himself, that's what it feels like: like nothing 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. This is strange enough - to be only half alive at best, seeing the world only through words, living only through the lives of others.” 0 likes
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