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The Brooklyn Follies

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  24,156 ratings  ·  1,737 reviews
Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, retired, estranged from his only daughter, the former life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Glass encounters his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, who is working in a local bookstore—a far cry from the brilliant academic career Tom had begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the colorful and char ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Picador (first published December 27th 2005)
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Alexandra Daw Great question. I wish I had the answer. I'm 3/4 of the way through the book and it's my first Auster so I feel ill-equipped to reply. At first I was …moreGreat question. I wish I had the answer. I'm 3/4 of the way through the book and it's my first Auster so I feel ill-equipped to reply. At first I was going to say that the names represented the characters - Nathan is so see through but now I wonder if it's because he acts all hardy but is really fragile. Tom is wood because he seems wooden. And so on. Kafka and the Doll - hmmm... well in the telling of the story as I remember... the storyteller was surprised that Kafka would go out of his way to comfort a stranger... a little girl he didn't know. But isn't that what all storytellers do to some extent - comfort strangers as we pass through this strange existence called life. I think we might need a bottle of wine or two to get to the answer though ;)(less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Wasn't sure whether I'd like Auster, but I enjoyed this book about NYC. I can see Al Pacino doing the main part in a future movie... Now I still have the Book of Illusions on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up... ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
An old dude gives a nine year old girl her bath. A niece tells her uncle about her own personal experiences with... oral sex.

... Yuck!

That there is an urge to be risque makes the conservative, too-quick-to-be-astonished writer a humongous dud in this instance.

Only when tackling meta terrains is this esteemed writer of ANY practical use.
Paul Auster's The brooklyn Follies presents a stark contrast to the first work of his that I've read, The New York Trilogy; although the majority of it takes place in New York, the two are different as night and day. Novels that comprise The New York Trilogy have been largely experimental, post-modern cat and mouse between the author and the reader; The Brooklyn Follies is a novel with a pretty straightforward but nevertheless compelling plot and characters one can care about. As the title sugge ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster
The Brooklyn Follies is a 2005 novel by Paul Auster. 60-year-old Nathan Glass returns to Brooklyn after his wife has left him. He is recovering from lung cancer and is looking for "a quiet place to die". In Brooklyn he meets his nephew, Tom, whom he has not seen in several years. Tom has seemingly given up on life and has resigned himself to a string of meaningless jobs as he waits for his life to change. They develop a close friendship, entertaining each other i
Steven Godin
Nathan Glass, Fifty-nine, retired and divorced who is not normally prone to bouts of self-pity, declares his desire to seek 'a silent end to my sad and ridiculous life'; the same Nathan Glass who is writing a book dedicated to his life's collection of 'verbal flubs, physical mishaps, failed ideas and social gaffs. Auster's postmodern idea's are built around a host of such recurrent themes, identity and feeling lost in the world, Auster's prose here is nothing new, but that's a good thing. Sharp, ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
Oh hey look, another book by a pompous old white man peopled almost entirely by pompous white men holding forth on existence and the meaning of life and the inner workings of the mind and their own bloated legacies and women as playthings and agents of growth.

Is this what Paul Auster is always like? I think the only other of his books I've ever read is the graphic novel adaptation of City of Glass, which was about a million years ago.

Idk man, I mean I didn't hate-read this exactly, but I defini
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great story about Nathan, his nephew, a little girls and a bookshop. Read while in Switzerland.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I know that there have been mixed reviews of this book. I picked it up in the bargain bin and then looked it up on Amazon. Some loved it. Some hated it, saying that their beloved writer had been abducted by aliens and forced to write this book by money grubbing editors. They claimed that there was no plot, nothing happened and I looked at the cheesy cover with trepidation thinking that I had spent some hard earned cash on what would amount to a dust collector and could've spent it on umm, a latt ...more
Sharon Hart-Green
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brooklyn Follies is a wonderfully entertaining novel, with lively characters and an absorbing plot. Like most of the other Auster books I have read, there is some crude language and a few raunchy parts that might not suit all readers.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub, fiction
I'd like to give this book 4.5 stars, but fails to strive for precision.

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. The voice and tone of it is so warm and an inviting. I loved every character in the book, not so much for their personalities, but rather that Auster portrays each one with so much sensitivity and kindness. There is no judgement or scorn in his approach to these people, despite their "follies."

There isn't much of a "story" here. Really, for me, the "story" occurs on
Anne  (on semi-hiatus)
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, audible, nyc
Nathan Glass, our protagonist, returns to Brooklyn, the place of his birth, thinking that his life is over. He is divorced from his wife, estranged from his only daughter and is in remission from lung cancer but has no idea how long that will last; if he has one month or many years left to live. At the beginning of the novel he doesn't seem to care that much. But he begins to care more and more as the novel progresses. On arriving in Brooklyn he meets up with a nephew. They haven't met in many y ...more
Judy Mann
Sep 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
This was one lousy book. Now I've never read this guy before but this book had all the ingredients of good story.Here:
The narrator starts off miserable- which is great.
He's neurotic - which is also great.
His family is dysfunctional- which is marvelous.
His ex wife hates him.Wonderful.
He hates her.
Wonderful again.
And here he is in Brooklyn- Perfect. We're cooking.
So what went wrong?
The book just sunk from there.
In fact if it hadn't been for those ingredients I would've stopped reading a
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and 1/2 stars

While I enjoyed this while reading it, I'm not sure that it will be one that sticks with me.

It employs a few of the acknowledged Auster traits (coincidences, locked room, stories-within-the-story) but this time they're done in a much more straightforward, though subtle, manner.

The narrative voice is engaging, though I have to wonder how Nathan went from being a supposedly uninvolved curmudgeon with nothing to live for (unless he's exaggerating) to an active retiree in such a shor
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Auster with "the Brooklyn follies" has made me laugh heartedly loudly and to the brink of tears!!!
Even Christa, my wife, has cast bewildering and inquiring looks at me, during my reading time with "the Brooklyn follies" because I spontaneously did break up laughing uncontrollably.
This novel is indeed well and fluidly written and deliciously funny...
The main characters are:
Nathan, a retired life insurance agent, in remission from lung cancer, and whose long marriage turned out into a hell. A
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
This is the first book I have read by Paul Auster, but it will not be my last. I picked it up in preparation for our upcoming New York City trip- we are going to be doing a tour of Brooklyn and I thought this would be excellent pre-reading. I am so glad I did.
Nathan, our narrator, has come to Brooklyn to prepare for his death(he has recently undergone treatment for lung cancer). Instead, Nathan finds new purpose to his life. Through his follies (Definition: an act or instances of foo
John Sorrell
Nov 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Always a creative, suspenseful story teller, but this one has some pretty bad (but easily avoided) aspects:


no reason to talk about Bush or religion (at least in the way it was mentioned); seemed strained and cliche (along with cliches of Vermont, Latino women who work at diners, and gay men, drugs leading to porn and then religion, etc etc).

no reason to have Rory suck off the priest near the end, which I have to admit made me feel actually disgusted, given the positive feelings toward
Oct 28, 2012 is currently reading it
Shelves: favourites
4.5 / 5
The ending was the home run. Made up for a sagging middle. This has been the most feel-good Auster novel so far. As ever, the language and mood of his writing is such that it does not do any literary- linguistic gymnastics, but glides along smoothly and I really cannot put the novel down.

What is it about? Its mostly about the small things. And how the bigger picture is ever so elusive. this "about" game is tricky - this novel worked for me- what can be said for sure is that it does not ta
robin friedman
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Story Of American Urban Life

In an important scene in Paul Auster's novel, "The Brooklyn Follies", Tom Wood, a major character in the book and a student of literature, tells the story of Franz Kafka and a doll. During the last year of Kafka's life, he met a young girl in a park lamenting the loss of her doll. Kafka began writing letters to the girl, telling stories of the doll's life, leading to the doll's marriage. After three weeks of Kafka's stories, the girl no longer missed the doll. And T
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I've read quite a few Paul Auster novels over the years, but this is one of those that was on my shelf unread until Audible put the audiobook on sale recently.

Set primarily in Brooklyn, the story is narrated by recently retired life insurance salesman, Nathan Glass, who after his divorce settlement has moved to Park Slope believing that he'll spend his last days there, having recently suffered from lung cancer. For a while he plays the part of a misanthropist, but then runs into his nephew Tom,
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Auster tells the story of Brooklyn, the Park Slope neighborhood, as it is beginning the transition to gentrification. Nathan Glass is 60-soemthing and newly divorced. He moves to Brooklyn from some distant suburb. He runs into his nephew Tom who has ended up in the same neighborhood and they are both aimless and misfits. This is a novel about male angst but in a funny way. I liked the men in this book, except for two of the husbands who cheated and/or were abusive. Nathan helps others and e ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it

The Brooklyn Follies
by Paul Auster

Do not fool yourselves. Behind a narrative with a literary style – the narrator’s – apparently intuitive and simultaneously filled with a straight simplicity and ornaments that seem to evoke a 19th century writing ('there is no escape from the wretchedness that stalks the earth'), a world of allusions and references are hiding, and these make The Brooklyn Follies one of the most inspired works of Paul Auster.

The narrator of the story is Nathan
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I started this book on a flight to New York City. I read it on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan and sitting in Prospect Park while drinking coffee. I couldn’t have picked a better book to accompany me on my trip. From the first pages I realized it was set in the same neighborhood that I was staying in in Brooklyn. Much of it happens in a bookstore on Seventh Avenue and I had the chance to visit a bookstore on that very street. I tell you this because reading it in Brooklyn undoubtedly affec ...more
Kelly Wondracek
May 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Nathan Glass, a retired life-insurance salesman diagnosed with lung cancer, moves out to Brooklyn to die. Throughout the course of the novel, he reunites with his nephew, becomes friends with a charismatic criminal-minded bookstore owner, and receives an unexpected visitor. The title stems from a series of notes Glass is putting together on life's mishaps, eventually to be formed into The Book of Human Folly. It's a touching book with the types of well fleshed-out, "I know that guy" type of char ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I remember not really enjoying City of Glass when I read it in the late 80s. I think I was too young--or too inexperienced--to appreciate Paul Auster back then. I'm giving it another go now, since I have recently been blown away by two back-to-back books of his, The Book of Illusions and now The Brooklyn Follies.

Both books are told in the first person, but their narrators are as different as night and day. The Book of Illusions narrator is a grieving academic while The Brooklyn Follies narrator
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books-ever
Has this guy ever written anything bad?
This novel was fanTAStic. It's about an older guy who's dying of cancer and he basically moves back to Brooklyn to die. But then he runs into his nephew and they become great friends many great characters. There's little Lucy and everything she says (when she's speaking) is hilariously weird. There's the B.P.M. who turns into an actual character in the book. There's Harry (gay) who is interesting. The Chowders, Aurora, just lots of neat characters
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Auster completists, cornball hipsters, people who idealize Brooklyn
Why did I dislike this book so much? It was a swift, digestible read; the language was clear and uncluttered (though somewhat uninspired); and Auster knows how to keep the action moving. I guess it just felt like a lazy effort. Perhaps because of the anecdotal structure - a slapped-together collection of of caricatures, backstory, tangents, and playscript - it didn't ever coalesce into something transcendent. It felt like the author was simply trying to find a home for all the orphaned sketches ...more
Carla Remy
Feb 26, 2011 rated it liked it
No, I did not read this again. I just reread Ripley Under Ground, which is the book with the Derwatt art forgery, and I remembered and found this review from 2011. And am still shocked at the plot similarities. Could this be coincidence? I'm assuming Auster didn't knowingly copy Highsmith so much.

Entertaining but light. I didn't love it. Well, I enjoyed how the characters had to deal with Republicans and Evangelists; very modern and relatable to.
I did have an issue. There was an art
Mohamad Shibly
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A man goes to Brooklyn to die, but instead he finds LIFE. Beautiful heartwarming book
This is the story of Nathan and Tom in the Brooklyn neighborhood. When Lucy, a girl who refuses to speak, comes into their lives, some big changes come up.

Another unforgettable story by the one of the masters of American contemporary fiction.

5* Leviathan
4* Moon Palace
5* The New York Trilogy
4* The Book Of Illusions
2* Winter Journal
4* The Music of Chance
4* Mr. Vertigo
4* 4 3 2 1
4* The Brooklyn Follies
TR Invisible
TR Timbuktu
TR Man in the Dark
Naim Frewat
Apr 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-fiction
Is Paul Auster worth your time?

This is my second Auster, the first was “Travels in the Scriptorium”Both works I have “read” as audiobooks while taking interminable journeys around the country. The journeys themselves were less taxing than the books.
The reason I checked both is because of -and I’m not ashamed to admit it- the publicity this guy gets!

“The Brooklyn Follies”, written in the first person narrative form, is about an ex-insurance salesman, Nathan Wood, well into his 60s, who survives c
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Book Club: The Brooklyn Follies 1 2 Aug 08, 2018 11:23AM  
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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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