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Leviathan

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  8,543 ratings  ·  357 reviews
New York Timesbestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) opens Leviathan with the tearing of a bomb explosion and the death of one Benjamin Sachs. Ben’s one-time best friend, Peter Aaron, begins to retrospectively investigate the transformation that led Ben from his enviable, stable life to one of a recluse. Both were once intelligent, yet struggling novelists u ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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9th out of 21 books — 65 voters
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Ian Heidin[+]Fisch
A NICE NIGHT'S ENTERTAINMENT ON THE FOURTH OF JULY:

Fireworks Over Brooklyn

We're at a party in a modern bohemian fourth floor apartment in Brooklyn.

The guests include publishers, writers, artists, film-makers, musicians and various minders, acolytes and drummers disguised as waiters.

It’s July 4, 1981 (or is it 2003 or 2012 or all three, I don't know, the script doesn't say), barely twenty minutes before the fireworks are due to begin.

LYDIA DAVIS (who has just arrived, it’s her second party of t
...more
Jeremy Zerbe
I can't remember the last time I read a book that was so emotionally draining as Paul Auster's Leviathan. I have been reading it at work for the last week or so, and finally in the home stretch of the last hundred pages today, I started walking around with my head down and my coworkers kept asking if I was okay. That's a feat to behold.

Auster's books are some of the most finely crafted works I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Maybe the stories don't always get wrapped up cleanly, or the ch
...more
Blair
If you already like Paul Auster, you will definitely enjoy Leviathan, and if you dislike him or have a negative impression of his work, it's unlikely to be the book that will change your mind. Thisis, in many, many ways, textbook Auster. The author is a self-insert named Peter Aaron, a New-York based writer. The basic set-up isn't too different from that of Invisible: a man does or suffers a terrible thing, and the story consists of his friend, the narrator, looking back on the history of their ...more
David Sweeney
WOW! WOW! WOW! No wonder Siri married him. I really think serious stalking in Brooklyn is a possibility my next trip to New York. I utterly ADORED this book. Complete satisfaction. It is not a very long book but it is incredibly dense and the narrative moves along at a good clip. This is the fourth Paul Auster I have read this year and none have been the same. BUT BUT I strongly suspect that this may not be for everyone. It is almost review proof because you really can't say much about the plot. ...more
Noura Tan
It took me a while to figure out what I felt towards to this book or rather a way to articulate it into some sort of coherent review. I should start by saying that Auster changed a lot of my perspectives throughout this book (nah, not revolutionary stuff). Auster delves into these characters so deeply and invests in their habits, attitudes, feelings so much we can't help but forget that it is but a work of fiction but there was so much detail paid to these characters (and what beautiful characte ...more
Featherbooks
For me the tale did not merit the lengthy narrative, the book within the book seemed contrived and interfered with the tension. I felt it was too much blathering and was in need of editing. Perhaps it's a case of not being able to latch on to either of the main male characters as sympathetic or interesting. The female protagonists started out as more captivating particularly since I'd seen museum exhibits of Sophie Calle and immediately recognized her in Maria but they were reduced to pretty muc ...more
Azra
می توانم بگویم در تمام لحظاتی که کتاب را می خواندم، مسخ شده بودم. هر خط از داستان یک بمب کوچک بود که در ذهنم پیش فرض ها را منفجر می کرد. آستر به معنای واقعی کلمه در مورد " انسان " می نویسد و رابطه ی او را با جهان تصادف ها به شکلی منظم پیش چشم خواننده تصویر می کند. طوری که عجیب ترین و نادرالوقوع ترین اتفاقات، امری بدیهی جلوه می کنند. و آن چه به نظر من خارق العاده می آید، درست بعد از تحقیر باورهای پیشین اتفاق می افتد؛ " کشف حقیقت "
اشتیاق بی پایان و فزاینده ای در من هست که می خواهم ساعت ها و روزها
...more
David
Un amigo me dijo hace tiempo que Paul Auster hacía las historias más simples del mundo y que de ahí su éxito. Este es el segundo libro suyo que devoro y no estoy de acuerdo. Creo que en este en concreto, su gran mérito es crear una historia muy compleja (más incluso en la creación de personajes que en situaciones) y hacer que parezca sencilla.

Crear unos personajes tan peculiares, hacerlos creíbles, forzar situaciones para describirnos sus vidas hacia un rumbo ya anunciado pero bastante inexplic
...more
Jeff Sorensen
I always mistakenly think this was the first book I ever read by Paul Auster. It wasn't. Moon Palace was. I do remember reading an advance copy of this that I pulled off the shelves of the publisher I worked for at the time. It felt like I was stealing, though he wouldn't have cared, and couldn't have ever known I did that unless I told him. By chance, the day I placed it back on the shelf, the publisher gave it & that Sun & Moon Press book The Art of Hunger to one of the staff members t ...more
John
Elegant Examination Of One Character's Descent Into Madness

Noted Brooklyn, New York-based novelist Paul Auster is in fine form in his novel "Leviathan", which can be regarded as an interesting, highly literate, example of crime fiction which ought to resonate with anyone interested in seeing a character's descent into madness. In this early 1990s novel, Auster has cast himself as a fictional doppelganger, the novelist Peter Aaron, who witnesses the gradual descent into madness by his best friend
...more
Bindu Manoj
"Six days ago, a man blew himself up by the side of a road in Wisconsin,"

thus starts the gripping tale of Benjamin Sachs. There are books that make you cry, ones that make you smile and sometimes laugh, some make you think and a few that refuse to leave your mind. Then there are those rare ones that leave you with a haunting , disturbing feeling that is beyond any definition. And this is one of those rare ones.

As soon as author Paul Aaron catches the news item in The New York Times, he is absolu
...more
Jim Elkins
This is, by most people's account, a minor novel of Auster's, and so it may be an especially go one to raise the question of what drives the work, as opposed to what happens when the writing succeeds in some more specific way. This book has a kind of unremitting literalism in its narrative. In a nearly blank, neutral voice, the narrator tells us dozens of dates, places, and names; in part that's justified by the notion that this is a book written at speed in order to provide legal evidence about ...more
eliafen
این سومین کتابی ِ که از پل استر می خوندم... خیلی عالی شروع شده و با توجه به تجربه‌ای که از خوندن آثار پل استر بدست آوردم کافیه طاقت آورد تا صفحات 70 اینا و بعد از اون به هیچ وجه نمیشه دیگه کتاب رو بست. به حدی مهیج میشه که گذر زمان رو نمیشه اصلا متوجه شد...
به نظرم پل استر خیلی عالی تونسته تمام شخصیت‌ها رو بهم ربط بده و خیلی زیبا موقعیت‌های پیچیده رو توصیف کرده...
Alan Chen
I love Paul Auster and this novel while not as good as some of his other works (New York Trilogy, Moon Palace) is still a gem. The story is by Peter Aaron about his best friend Oliver Sachs. It chronicles how they meet until the day Sachs blew himself up into pieces. The story has many twists of chance that comprises a person's life and it delineates how Sachs goes from writer and husband to a person that will blow up monuments in the name of social causes. In it we learn just as much about the ...more
Alexandra
Als Fan von Paul Austers Fabulierkunst hat mir dieser Roman bisher am wenigsten gefallen. Dabei ist er sprachlich und erzählerisch wieder in gewohnt grossartiger Qualität, wenn auch die Geschichte etwas unwahrscheinlich weit hergeholt und schräg ist. Macht nix ich mag schräge Gschichtln schliesslich ist Lesen pure Fiktion. Aber diese unsäglichen Rückblenden.... nicht dass ich prinzipiell etwas gegen Rückblenden hätte... Sie stören mich nicht, wenn sie eingesetzt werden, um die Vergangenheit zu e ...more
Marcelo
I love Auster, and "The New York Trilogy" is probably up there in my top ten books. But "Leviathan" left me deeply unsatisfied. Overall, the structure did not work for me, and while some of the themes and tropes are vintage Auster this time they didn't coalesce.

There was a lot in here, as Sachs trashes one part of his life after another in some search of who-knows-what (success? identity? self-respect?) that just felt repetitive and monotonous. It's not that Sachs is unlikable, but something wo
...more
Tim
Paul Auster's Leviathan], like most of his other work, hinges largely on chance and coincidental relationships. At the same time, this novel is much more fatalistic than his other work, mostly due to the frequent use of foreshadowing including the start of the book in which it is revealed that Benjamin Sachs, the character that the book focuses on, has recently blown himself up accidentally.

Leviathan is an interesting title for a couple of reasons. The more obvious reason for this title is as a
...more
Bandit
Once I read a quote and it went something like...the best and only way we have to see inside someone's mind is through reading. That's not always the case, sometimes books (even very good books) are fairly shallow in that respect, relying more on clever plots and cinematic vividness of descriptions. But in Paul Auster's books, it's always possible to see inside someone's mind, inside someone's heart. It's a fascinating journey each time. Only now, having read a bunch of his books, I am beginning ...more
Roz Ito
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Quirk
It's been a long time since I've read something like this. "Leviathan" has an immediate hook - a man blows himself up at a roadside in rural Minnesota, and no one knows who he is, except the author of the novel. The book is a long story that explains the history of a friendship and a man's spiral into loss, his attempt at finding meaning - and his failure. It's a strikingly bleak book but not in a typical fashion. I think Auster really wanted to delve into aspects of people and relationships tha ...more
Jamie
An enjoyable, swift read. Is this a political novel? I'm uncertain, if only because I'm not sure what sort of relationship between the people and politics is propagated in the novel. There's certainly an anxiety/pleasure directed toward the possibility of domestic terrorism, and parallel to this, a major questioning of the connections between art and action. Peter Aaron, the protagonist, strikes me as a bit of a Mary Sue extension of Auster, a figure through which a great deal of self-aggrandizi ...more
matt

The other day I was having a conversation about Paul Auster with a friend and we decided he was a little too trembly-sensitive-black turtleneck-precious and that we didn't think his books were all that great.

I think this is my favorite, of the several or so I read.

Auster's the kind of guy who will, rightly or wrongly, be associated with the time in my life where I worked in my campus library (surprise, surprise) and just sat around long, lazy, rather dull Sunday afternoons reading like I was l
...more
Sabra Embury
I barely made it to chapter three of Leviathan, and by the time I got there I wanted to throw the book on the ground. The character development lacked luster, the dialogue was stupid, and the narrative was outright boring, aside from its style seeming contrived and rudimentary.

I'll admit that this is my first real glimpse into Auster's writing.

And I also just finished Jerzy Kosiński's the Painted Bird, which was so beautiful, rich and complex, I would feel bad for any after book having to foll
...more
Gail
I was introduced to Auster via The New York Trilogy which was gifted to me by a friend.

A modern day flaneurial style and self-reflexive narrative, that self-consciously comments on its own nature as a fiction is an addictive trait in most of Auster's books and of the three I have read the appeal has not yet waned.

Leviathan gripped me throughly, and though a little too drawn out in places, never failed to lose its overall pace. The story was one of the ordinary turned extraordinary but never bec
...more
Karen
I was disappointed by this book which I was reading as one of the 'Revolutionary Writing' series. I think it was because there was nothing particularly revolutionary about the plot or the characters portrayed. The tie between the terrorist act which starts the book and the characters whose story is told seems to be almost non existent and when it is finally revealed (although hinted at from the first) it seems utterly improbable. I expected there to be something far more in the plot. As someone ...more
Clay
It really looks like he manages to write all those good novels completely effortlessly. In fact he writes so well that it keeps me reading, but the problem is that even though all the books I've read by him were good, there was always something very important missing.

This is of course just personal taste, but there's no warmth at all. The characters are there, you get to understand them, or maybe not even that, Auster gives you a couple of impressions of them, gives you all kinds of information
...more
Andrielle Figueroa
I love this book, but it doesn't really help that Paul Auster is my favorite author. The book is a quick read but dabbles in depression, self exploration, love and hate. These subjects are usually what his books cover.
Though all of his pieces have a depressing feel to them, this one is more fun than the others. I mean, who doesn't love explosions, especially ones that are thought to be connected with terrorists? Or enjoying a release that you know is definitely wrong...but at the same time can
...more
My Inner Shelf
Lentement mais sûrement je poursuis mon Auster-thon. Je peux déjà dire qu’il ne fera pas partie de mes préférés. Le narrateur, Peter Aaron (Paul Auster ?), raconte dans les moindres détails sa rencontre, puis son amitié avec Benjamin Sachs. Le récit est assez linéaire, le début est passionnant, la fin aussi, mais j’avoue qu’à la moitié du livre j’ai été tentée d’arrêter. Je me félicite d’avoir poursuivi malgré une lassitude subite et brève. Malgré tout, le principal intérêt réside dans la galeri ...more
Eric Hendrixson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
I've read a lot of Paul Auster's nonfiction and enjoyed it. His fiction is another matter - this book must have some of the worst dialogue ever, and the scenes feel very forced in general.

However, this book contains the phrase "The Eden of her buttocks."

Really, though, I should say that it is a page-turner. But it's a page turner because the author withholds a lot of information from the reader until near the end of the book. It's not worth reading it to get to the end of the mystery. Very disc
...more
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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
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The New York Trilogy The Brooklyn Follies The Book of Illusions Moon Palace Invisible

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“Nadie puede decir de dónde proviene un libro, y menos que nadie la persona que lo escribe. Los libros nacen de la ignorancia , y si continúan viviendo después de escritos es sólo en la medidad en que no pueden entenderse.” 4 likes
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