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4 3 2 1

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  13,821 ratings  ·  2,373 reviews
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, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to ...more
Hardcover, 880 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Faber & Faber (first published January 2017)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,821 ratings  ·  2,373 reviews

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Susanne  Strong
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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: arc, literary-fiction
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
Ilenia Zodiaco
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"4321" è una scatola magica che contiene quattro storie incastrate insieme come carte in un mazzo. Non c’è scampo all’incessante e impetuoso rimescolarsi di vita e morte, gioia e sofferenza, paure e slancio.

Recensione completa qui:
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Το ογκώδες μυθιστόρημα των 1224 σελίδων, χωρίζεται σε μεγάλα κεφάλαια, τα οποία διανύουν περίπου έναν αιώνα Αμερικάνικης ιστορίας.
Το πρώτο κεφάλαιο μας γνωρίζει με την οικογένεια Φέργκιουσον, λίγα πράγματα για τον παππού και την γιαγιά του κεντρικού ήρωα και αρκετά περισσότερα για τους γονείς.
Τα υπόλοιπα κεφάλαια είναι αφιερωμένα στον Άρτσι Φέργκιουσον ή απλώς “Φέργκιουσον”, όπως συνηθίζει να τον προσφωνεί ο αφηγητής της ιστορίας.
Ο Άρτσι γεννήθηκε στο Newark το 1947, από τη Ρόουζ και τον Στάνλει
Paul Fulcher
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-2017, 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)


Υπάρχουν ογκώδη βιβλία γεμάτα δράση με πέντε, δέκα, είκοσι πρωταγωνιστές απαραίτητοι για να γεμίσουν τόσες εκατοντάδες σελίδες, και υπάρχει το 4 3 2 1 όπου περιστρέφεται εξ ολοκλήρου γύρω από έναν μοναδικό χαρακτήρα, του οποίου η ζωή σπάει σε τέσσερα διαφορετικά κομμάτια που το καθένα ακολουθεί τη δική του πορεία, και ενώ δεν πρόκειται για pageturner εσύ βρίσκεις τον εαυτό σου να κρέμεται από κάθε λέξη αυτού του μεγάλου λογοτέχνη, παρακολουθείς τον μικρό Archie να πεθαίνει και να ζε
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...ενα βιβλιο ονειρων.ενα βιβλιο για τις αμεσες πραγματικοτητες μπροστα στη μυτη του Φ.ενα αδυνατο βιβλιο που δε γινοταν να γραφτει και σιγουρα θα κατεληγε ενα χαος απο τυχαια, ασυνδετα θραυσματα, ενας σωρος απο ανουσιοτητες.γιατι να επιχειρήσει να κανει τετοιο πραγμα?γιατι να μην επινοησει απλως αλλη μια ιστορια και να την πει οπως θα την ελεγε οποιοσδηποτε αλλος συγγραφέας? Επειδη ο φεργκιουσον ηθελε να κανει κατι διαφορετικο.επειδη ο φεργκιουσον δεν ενδιαφεροταν πια να λεει απλες ιστοριες.επ ...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.
Eirini Proikaki
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eίναι το πρώτο αλλά σίγουρα όχι το τελευταίο βιβλίο του Όστερ που διαβάζω.Μπορεί αρχικά να το φοβήθηκα λίγο γιατί ήταν πολύ μεγάλο και φαινόταν αρκετά μπερδεμένο λόγω των τεσσάρων διαφορετικών ιστοριών με τα ίδια πρόσωπα αλλά με τη βοήθεια κάποιων σημειώσεων,που ευτυχώς σκέφτηκα απο την αρχή να κρατήσω,τελικά η ανάγνωση ήταν εύκολη και απολαυστική.
Τέσσερις ιστορίες,τέσσερις Φέργκιουσον,τέσσερις διαφορετικές πορείες ζωής.Το βιβλίο εστιάζει στον Φέργκιουσον και μόνο σε αυτόν και ενώ είναι γραμ
Jan 28, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
masterpiece /ˈmɑːstəpiːs/ noun
a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship.

Пол Остър твърди, че кариерата му на писател през целия му живот го е водила до създаването на 4 3 2 1 - неговият магнум опус. След като прочетох послендата страница на романа бих казал същото за себе си - че всичко, което съм чел, гледал, правил досега - ме е водило по-близко до разбирането и пълното потапяне в това, което Пол Остър прави с 4 3 2 1.

Повествованието е рагърнато и в същото време не бих казал, че
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Helene Jeppesen
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Stephen P
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auster, interiority
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
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...από το ξεκίνημα της συνειδητής ζωής του, το επίμονο συναίσθημα ότι οι διασταυρώσεις και η παραλληλία των δρόμων των ταξιδεμένων και των αταξίδευτων διασχίζονταν από τους ίδιους ανθρώπους την ίδια ώρα, τους ορατούς ανθρώπους και τους σκιώδεις ανθρώπους, και ότι ο κόσμος ως είχε ποτέ  δεν θa μπορούσε να γίνει κάτι παραπάνω από ένα κλάσμα του κόσμου, διότι το πραγματικό αποτελούνταν και από αυτό που θα μπορούσε να είχε συμβεί αλλά δεν είχε συμβεί, ότι δεν υπήρχε ένας δρόμος καλύτερος ή χειρότερ ...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
“the world as it was could never be more than a fraction of the world, for the real also consisted of what could have happened but didn’t, that one road was no better or worse than any other road, but the torment of being alive in a single body was that at any given moment you had to be on one road only, even though you could have been on another, traveling toward an altogether different place.” 17 likes
“...and while all people were bound together by the common space they shared, their journeys through time were all different, which meant that each person lived in a slightly different world from everyone else.” 11 likes
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