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4 3 2 1

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  23,659 ratings  ·  3,419 reviews
Astonishing, a masterpiece, Paul Auster’s greatest, most satisfying, most vivid and heartbreaking novel -- a sweeping and surprising story of inheritance, family, love and life itself.

Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, i
Hardcover, Deckle Edge, 866 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  23,659 ratings  ·  3,419 reviews

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Susanne  Strong
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars.

I think that I'm in the minority here. I didn't love this novel as most everyone else seemed to. I like the idea of this but I think that the concept v. the execution fell short. I found this to be the most exhausting book I have ever read and was completely spent after I was done reading it. I had to force myself to finish the last few hundred pages just so that I could find out what happened. For me, the concept of this book is absolutely brilliant. 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster is an auspici
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful and intelligent in depth look at the 4 different lives of the jewish Ferguson born in March 1947 to Stanley and Rose. Set in New York and New Jersey, it is a novel full of details, it begins with giving us the disparate backgrounds and families of store owner Stanley and photographer Rose. It charts the relationship between Stanley and Rose and their heartbreaking attempts to have a child. Once Ferguson is born, we are given a non linear but simultaneous life trajectory struc ...more
Elyse  Walters
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
1 2 3 4.......
.....Archibald Isaac Ferguson.....( 900 pages about this guy)
.....Archi....(nope, 900 pages about THIS guy)
.....Ferguson....(no, THIS guy)
.....Archi Ferguson.....(I lied... this story is about THIS guy)!!!!

4 3 2 1 .......BLAST OFF!!!
This novel comes with 'surgeon general warnings': Its risky business being 'under-the-influence' of "4 3 2 1". It's possible to get an unbearable
headache, have insomnia, muscles might ache, and a reader might begin to feel fatigue AFTER the first 22 h
Violet wells
I was excited about this to begin with but it soon began to feel like a vehicle without an engine that Auster was pushing ever uphill.

If we live only a small part of our inner life externally, what happens to the rest? Unfortunately Auster doesn’t address this intriguing question in any kind of stimulating way though you’d think a novel about a character living four parallel lives would.
How much of fate comes from within and how much comes from without? Unfortunately Auster doesn’t address this
Andrew Smith
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I’ve read quite a bit of Auster’s work over the years, mainly his novels but also some of his non-fiction output too. I’ve imbibed quite a bit of biographical detail in this time from books such as Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure and The Red Notebook: True Stories and consequently I can see that a good deal of the content herein is based on the author’s own passions and experiences. A quick list would throw up his love of novels, poetry, films and baseball, his college education at ...more
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Glazed Over

I had a personal interest in this book. I was born just three weeks before it's protagonist, Archie Ferguson, and nine days after his author, Paul Auster. I grew up in a similar suburb of New York City, and in similar economic and educational circumstances. So, to the extent that Ferguson was shaped by the cultural context of the day, perhaps I could detect unrecognised influences in my own life. Or, even more exciting, given that 4 3 2 1 is about alternative universes, I could explor
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

An expansive study of a young man's life - diverging on four separate paths - that captivates with intimate writing and playfully explores the existential quandary of destiny versus the unexpected.

Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of all, thank you to GoodReads friend, Andrew, for the terrific review that he wrote of this book and for his encouragement to give it a try. Also, thank you to all the GoodReads friends who pressed the “like” button, and/or added reinforcement comments as I updated my reading status day by day. All the support helped so much to bolster my journey with this 880-page book. And, of course, thank you to Paul Auster for writing with the bravery and the talent to create something completely dif ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
4321 narrates four versions of one young man’s life, how it might have differed given small altered circumstances.

This wore me down. Instead of becoming more engaged I was exasperated by it at about pg 700. I kept thinking I could have read three novels in the time it took me to wade through this. Essentially it struck me as four different drafts of the same half-finished novel. I kept waiting for the Eureka moment when the four narratives would suddenly shed light on each other and blaze into
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction, arc
What a wonderful and thought provoking book. It is proving nearly impossible for me to write a coherent review of a book this large (both in page count and in scope), so I am going to concentrate on a few things that I kept thinking about since finishing it.

This is Archie Fergusen's story, told in four alternating timelines. Auster uses this premise for a thoughtful meditation on what makes us us and how little changes lead to different paths. I adored the way Auster lets this play out and shows
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bois that gaze at their pecs in the mirror
Recommended to Jaidee by: most of the dudes in my life
Shelves: two-stars-books
2 "self-indulgent, myopic, masturbatory" stars !!!

Most(est) Disappointing Read of 2018 Award

Over the years, my dudes, have been encouraging me to read Auster. He has been much admired and read over the years by male friends of all sexual orientations. One boi told me...Jaidee you are much more likely to listen to your gal pals (this is true but not by much ). So when this book appeared on the scene, it mucho intrigued me !! Like Sliding Doors without Gwyneth Paltrow.....but wait we want and n
I had been reluctant to read this extraordinary book because of its sheer length and my lukewarm reaction to previous Auster novels, particularly The Music of Chance. Once it was Booker shortlisted, I decided I had to read it, and I can see why the decision was made, and in many less competitive years I would have supported it wholeheartedly, but I would still prefer the prize to go to Ali Smith. I have just read it over an intensive six days, and read over a third (almost 400 pages) yesterday t ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was conflicted about reviewing 4 3 2 1: on the one hand, Paul Auster shows incredible talent and engaging storytelling, fully immersing us into the broad strokes of the four different lives of Archibald Ferguson, and the intricate, fascinating details that form each version of Ferguson's life, touching on art, film, language, translation, Ivy league educations, baseball, basketball, the siren call of Paris, having money, not having money, the Woman (Amy Schneiderman), other women and men to lo ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2017-booker
For the first approximately 500 pages of this (very long) book, I was in reading heaven. It’s not a secret (it’s in the blurb) that it tells the story of four lives that are the same life (a bit, I guess like the movie Sliding Doors or the book Life After Life). It tells these stories by cycling round them in instalments and a large part of the pleasure of reading, apart from the brilliance of the writing, is the fun of comparing the developing stories to see where they diverge and where they ov ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, booker-2017
The bombardment of all these words, that ceaseless yammering which failed to make any distinction between important things and unimportant things, talk that could impress you with its intelligence and perspicacity or else half bore you to death with its utter meaninglessness.

Update 1: Inexplicably shortlisted for the Booker. I'm lost for words. If only Auster had been.....

Update 2: Awarded my worst completed book of 2017 (albeit The Nix may have been a contender had I got past page 70)
Vit Babenco
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On beginning to read 4 3 2 1 I was surprised that the story went at first as if it had been written by Theodore Dreiser so it made me wonder where was all the expected postmodernistic quirkiness. But to my great delight I was capable to find the trick soon enough.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…”
These first lines of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost are literally the key to the book… Paul Auster simultaneously travels four forking roads so the novel is a s
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-diamonds
One of those books that don’t simply keep you good company but, for the time it takes to read them, they’re as close to you as your very thoughts. Just as one can’t get rid of one’s thoughts, one can’t help but feel the warmth emanating from its pages. Simply put, I didn’t want it to end. I dreaded the moment when I’d turn the last page and the inevitable fate of every book in the world would compel me to put it on the shelf. It’s not just that it had gripped me, although it certainly had. It’s ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Portrait of the American Artist as a Young Man

So, he takes up enough space for four people the way that I see people do in fast food joints. Four diverging versions of the same precocious young writer, or five if you count Auster.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-favorites
I received this huge, 866 page Advance Reading Copy a few weeks ago but decided to save it for my end of the year vacation (stay-cation). And I'm so glad I did because once I started it, I wanted, needed, to stay immersed in it.

The novel is the coming of age story of Archie Ferguson and starts off with 4 different versions of his life. Set mostly in New York and New Jersey, It is also about the political and cultural and social climate of the 1950s and 1960s.

I had 4 or 3 or 2 or 1 running stor
Lucy Banks
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A breathtaking, weighty epic of delicious 'What Ifs'...

I'm a big fan of Paul Auster, so was expecting massive things from this book... and I'm delighted to report, I was not disappointed.

It's a weighty tome (all 860 pages of it) and not the easiest of reads, but is so incredibly satisfying, not to mention thoroughly addictive once you get started, that it deserves nothing less than a full five star rating.

What's it
Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)
Auster has arrived at the witch’s brew point of honing himself down into the essence of Austerian writing. A celluloid grappling with the life of the mind as something in and of itself asserting high value, the inspiring commitment to creativity (writing), the battle for identity then to garner the courage to live and express it, and the occurrence of chance; Dante’s forked path, but in this book it is three pronged. The immersion of how the smallest of events can lead our lives in different tra ...more
Jan 28, 2017 marked it as abandoned
I have a feeling that this novel is going to be a fabulous success.

It is about a Jewish family living in New Jersey or more specifically about their son Ferguson. The reader is given insight into four different versions of Ferguson's life. Each decision made by his parents or himself results in a different outcome, hence a different life path or portrayal of Ferguson's life.

That is the bare bones of the nature of this novel. It is a huge tome of a book, weighing in at almost 900 pages. I confe
Sam Quixote
Jan 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
That’s enough - I can’t read this shit anymore! When a book starts to feel like a weight around the neck, like it’s work, when you look at the number of pages left and groan - yeah, that’s the time to walk away from it. So I’m calling it at page 480 out of 870 or so - no more. No more 4321, no more Paul Auster in fact. I used to be a huge fan but not anymore. 4321 has convinced me that former me was plain wrong about him or he used to be good and he’s just deteriorated shockingly in his old age. ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A steady fuck is good for you

This is a great reading by one of my favorite American authors.

The physical book (Henry Hold and Company, 2017, 1st edition hardcover) has about the same volume and almost the same weight as an ordinary brick – but the book is much smarter than its stony counterpart. When it arrived on my doorstep on March 3 I was quite impressed by the book’s appearance, and also delighted to discover that it comes with deckle edge which some people consider a flaw of the product.
Helene Jeppesen
3.5/5 stars.
On many levels, this is a really great story which plays with plot and destinies and gives you some insightful anecdotes on life and growing up. The only problem I had with it, though, was quite a big one: "4321" is too long and too dragging and you can't help but lose interest towards the end.
I'm a big fan of Paul Auster's, and while this wasn't my favourite book of his, I still think that it highly deserves the praise and anticipation that has been built up over the past 7 years.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my very humble opinion and literary experience, I think this is the best piece of contemporary prose that ever happen to come across my path of a reader.

Auster begins this epic journey, following the very natural time-line of boy's growing up and his entering adulthood. The narration is vivid, author's language is friendly and non-obstructive, the story flows naturally and the episodes follow without any additional complications, chasms and jump-arounds. It is not here that Auster experiments
Leo Robertson
When writers get to Paul Auster's age, I guess it's common for them to want to take on their masters. Here, I imagine this is Auster doing Tolstoy. But is Tolstoy's lens the most relevant for our time?

The prose is soulless, almost automatic in a sense. It has no focus, it does very little. It's the kind of novel I imagine computers writing, when they're able: there's nothing technically wrong with it, but it doesn't really seem to have a point. I'll give you an example: this is me planning a par
John Anthony
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I feel bereft now! Having lived with Archie Ferguson in various situations, surroundings and guises for what seems like a lifetime, I now miss him and his world a lot.

This is an enormous book which I read on kindle. That was not ideal: it would have been useful to flick back the pages to remind myself who some of the less familiar (to me) characters were. But the sheer girth and weight of the book made this impractical. It is a magnificent book in every way.

It seemed the ultimate Good Read. Arch
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-read, usa, 2017-mbp
Paul Auster, I am officially annoyed: This book could have been just great, but it is way, way too long, and by that I don't mean to say that I am generally opposed to long books, but that this story could have been told more effectively if a good editor had taken out at least 200 pages.

The basic idea that Auster plays out over the course of 866 pages is that coincidence and the slightest change in circumstances can change our whole lives. He demonstrates this by telling the life story of Archi
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
3-1/2 stars

I love the idea of this book. One man split into four men living separate lives based on personal decisions as well as consequences of his surroundings. Four Archies. Four lives. Each Archie is so very different yet so very the same. To what degree do our surroundings impact our lives? How much of our decision-making affects where we end up in life?

For me, the concept of this book gets five stars; however I learned that Auster's writing style apparently isn't for me. When reading a b
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Goodreads Librari...: Please merge editions 2 16 Apr 16, 2020 07:47AM  
ManBookering: 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster 36 217 Oct 02, 2017 07:21AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2017 Shortlist: 4 3 2 1 57 131 Oct 02, 2017 04:48AM  

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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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