Hamish's Reviews > The New York Trilogy

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
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Apr 11, 12

bookshelves: lit

City of Glass - 5 stars
Ghosts - 4 stars
The Locked Room - 3 stars

I was aware of this book for a long time, but had always avoided it because I was under the impression that it was of the self-congratulatory post-modern fiction type (ie Don Delillo). But I ended up reading the graphic novel adaptation of City of Glass because it was drawn by the great Dave Mazzucchelli and I liked it enough that I opted to give the original a try.

I guess it is a little bit self-congratulatory in its post-modernism, but it's in a playful, stimulating and pleasing way (unlike Don Delillo). It's more like Borges (especially in City of Glass), with a rich web of ideas under the surface. It's not a polemic and it doesn't beat you over the head with those ideas; they're there for you to do with what you will. The closer you read, the more connections and repeating themes and symbols you find. Each connection is like a string that you can pluck. Plucking them together doesn't necessarily create a melody, but when you pluck each one it makes a very pleasing sound. Nabokov used to talk about this and how it gave the reader the truest form of artistic pleasure which they would feel in the base of their spine (personally, I feel it in my stomach).

This is probably why the books work better the more abstract they are. Auster doesn't really excell with character drama, and that's probably why The Locked Room is the weakest of the trilogy. The further Auster pulls away from reality, the more enjoyable it is.
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