Jim Leckband's Reviews > City of Glass

City of Glass by Paul Auster
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's review
Jan 13, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 13 to 14, 2012

In the best tradition of detective mysteries, every word is a clue. However in Auster's hands, this is not a small matter, for he really means it. We are in the land of the postmodern detective novel, where the "author" is a character and the detective is an author who barely works at a detective series whose main character is called Max Work. Things are not what they seem, but sometimes a word means exactly what Auster wants it to mean, except when he doesn't. It's a Humpty Dumpty, Lewis Carroll New York.

Above all, this a novel about writing a novel. The clues are hidden in plain sight. There is even an elaborate clue in the wanderings of Quinn (the protagonist) around New York. Today with Google Maps we can decipher the clue pretty readily and I encourage everyone to do it. However, if you don't want Max Work, here is what Quinn's meandering spells (view spoiler).

Of course with any authorial cleverness, you have to ask is it worth it. For a lot of reviewers on Goodreads the answer is an emphatic NO. The cuteness is too much and I sense they don't want the book Auster is writing - which is always their prerogative. However, if you are open to what it means to write and read a book, to create characters and situations and what that means on levels of existential "reality", then "City of Glass" is a feast. Though I still don't know exactly to what the title refers.

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