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New York Trilogy #1-3

The New York Trilogy: City of Glass / Ghosts / The Locked Room

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The New York Trilogy is an astonishing and original book: three cleverly interconnected novels that exploit the elements of standard detective fiction and achieve a new genre that is all the more gripping for its starkness. In each story, the search for clues leads to remarkable coincidences in the universe as the simple act of trailing a man ultimately becomes a startling investigation of what it means to be human. Auster's book is modern fiction at its finest: bold, arresting and unputdownable.

Three stories on the nature of identity. In the first a detective writer is drawn into a curious and baffling investigation, in the second a man is set up in an apartment to spy on someone, and the third concerns the disappearance of a man whose childhood friend is left as his literary executor.

314 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Paul Auster

358 books10.5k followers
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 Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Profile Image for kaelan.
260 reviews304 followers
November 17, 2017
First, a brief harangue. I can't help but noticing how often the word "pretentious" has been thrown around in the reviews for this book. What a bothersome word: pretentious. It's a lot like the word "boring," in that they both seem to fool the user into thinking that they mean something objective, when in fact they're highly subjective. Nothing is inherently boring, just as nothing is inherently pretentious. On the contrary, these words say a lot more about the speaker than they do about the thing they're supposedly describing.

What does it mean, then, when someone calls a book "pretentious"? Let's dissect it. What they really seem to be saying is this: "I didn't find meaning in this book, therefore anyone who claims to have found meaning is not telling the truth." And this boils down to the following syllogism: "I am an intelligent reader; therefore anyone who is also an intelligent reader will share my opinion of this book; anyone who doesn't share my opinion, therefore, isn't an intelligent reader." A valid inference, no doubt, but hardly sound. This is because the whole argument hinges on one unavoidable fact: that by using the word "pretentious," one is implicitly assuming that they themselves are intelligent. And everyone knows that only dumb people think they're smart.

So hate on Paul Auster all you want. Say that you found his plots predictable; say that you found his characters unsympathetic; say whatever the fuck you want. But don't call his writing—or his fans—"pretentious." Because that's just being lazy. And beyond that, it only makes you sound pretentious.

City of Glass: *****

Speaking of coincidences:

I have this loose policy that whenever I'm reading a book of fiction, I also read something non-fiction; and in this particular instance, "City of Glass" was counterbalanced by David Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach.

Now, it is not my aim to create a sort of synchronicity between any two books I have on the go at any certain time. In this case, my non-fiction choice was based solely on the fact that the book was immediately available.

And yet, I was surprised by a number of similarities that arose between the two. First, both books explicitly mention the Tower of Babel (in fact, if you have a copy of the Penguin Deluxe Classics edition of the trilogy, they both even display artistic renderings of it). Both books also focus extensively on language—in particular, its relation to "reality." But perhaps most importantly, both explore the notion of systems (mathematical, artistic, etc.), as well as what it means to operate outside of said system.

For Hofstadter, this means the ability to interpret a system in a way that isn't explicitly contained within that system, which is a crucial tool for any mathematician (or more specifically, any meta-mathematician). And it's a crucial tool for Paul Auster the writer too. In "City of Glass," he creates a "strange loop" (Hofstadter's term) between the world captured by the narrative and the one inhabited by the reader, with no clear line between them: the boundaries between what's real and what's fiction are masterfully blurred.

Reading the novel, you almost begin to suspect that you were meant to be a character, that Auster probably viewed our world as identical (or at least isomorphic) to the one inhabited by Quinn, Stillman, et. al. And if that's not cool enough: by the end of the novel, Auster turns the tables again, and you finish feeling like every symbol of the story has to be reinterpreted, like the entire piece has undergone a semantic shift.

Brainy, deep, fun and highly recommended.

Ghosts: *****

Reviewing these stories without spoiling them is kind of like trying to defuse a bomb: one with a lot of colourful and potentially unnecessary trip-wires. So in order to minimize the risk, I'm going to refrain from talking about any of the specifics of "Ghosts," and instead focus on my more general impressions of the novel.

Here we are: I think it might be even better than "City of Glass." No wait, that can't be right. Because "City of Glass" was pretty fucking amazing. Really, I don't know; I was blown away by both. Indeed, it's true that harboured the fear, from the opening few pages, that the second installment of Auster's trilogy would be perhaps a little too cutesy, with the colour-names and all ("Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired by White to spy on Black..."). But I should have by then been aware that Paul Auster does everything for a reason. Or perhaps more specifically, when he does something for no reason, it's always for a good reason.

Anyways, what I'm excited for now is finding out whether or not "The Locked Room" keeps up the trend...

The Locked Room: ***** (???)

I forget exactly where, but I believe it's in one of his letters that Plato writes, "your best ideas you don't write down" (or something to that effect). What he means, I believe, is that truth has a tendency to avoid complete linguistic formalization, that it avoids ever being "captured." This concept—or a similar one—was at the core of "City of Glass." But with "The Locked Room," Auster seems to be actually writing it, as opposed to just writing about it.

This is because it's easy to see how things like the character of Fanshawe, his assorted sub-textual works, the "locked room, etc. all map onto aspects of the novel itself. And on a more general level, this serves to comment on our notions of self-hood, language and perception(s) of reality. In this way, The New York Trilogy is a philosophy book disguised as a piece of literature. And yet that's not entirely accurate, because it's hard—if not impossible—to imagine how it's contents could be conveyed in any other form than they are here.

As Auster himself admits, the story found in "The Locked Room" is merely a facet of a larger one, one that permeates the entire trilogy. With "City of Glass," we were taken to the limits of language. "The Locked Room" performs a similar feat—less obviously, but perhaps more significantly. Auster gives us facts and he gives us names. And from these pieces we construct entire characters: Fanshawe, the unnamed narrator, even a Peter Stillman. But what does this mean? Who is Fanshawe? We are made aware, for instance, of a stark disjunction between pre- and post-disappearance Fanshawe. But with what authority can these two men be said to be the same person? And is anyone ever really just one person?

Whenever you read a novel—although perhaps this one more so than most—you are engaged in a gathering and compiling facts. You are, for all intents and purposes, a detective: picking up clues, discarding others as irrelevant. And from these, you ultimately construct a cohesive narrative, a story. If you disagree with this sentiment, just think to the Peter Stillman who appears near the end of the novel. Who can help but wonder whether or not this is in fact the same Peter Stillman as was contained within the pages of "City of Glass"? For we, as readers, cannot help but straying from the text, escaping from its finite world. We draw connections, create links. Never is the text a self-contained entity. Ever.

And Auster, it appears, has a keen understanding of this. So the question he seems to be asking is, what is the relationship between fact and fiction? Between name and thing? And when you finish the novel (both "The Locked Room" and the trilogy as a whole), you come to realize that it (the book) is forcing you to ask the very same thing of itself.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
August 13, 2021
(Book 219 from 1001 books) - The New York Trilogy (New York Trilogy #1-3), Paul Auster

The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume.

The first story, City of Glass, features a detective-fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed "author" who reports the events as reality to "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story, to "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in the novel, to Peter Stillman the younger, to Peter Stillman the elder and, finally, to Daniel Quinn, protagonist. "City of Glass" has an intertextual relationship with Cervantes' Don Quixote. Not only does the protagonist Daniel Quinn share his initials with the knight, but when Quinn finds "Paul Auster the writer," Auster is in the midst of writing an article about the authorship of Don Quixote. Auster calls his article an "imaginative reading," and in it he examines possible identities of Cide Hamete Benengeli, the narrator of the Quixote.

The second story, Ghosts, is about a private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White. Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work. Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black.

The Locked Room is the story of a writer who lacks the creativity to produce fiction. Fanshawe, his childhood friend, has produced creative work, and when he disappears the writer publishes his work and replaces him in his family. The title is a reference to a "locked room mystery", a popular form of early detective fiction.

سه گانه نیویورک - پل استر (افق) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: اول اکتبر سال 2010میلادی

عنوان: سه گانه نیویورک: سه رمان پست مدرن: شهرِ شیشه ای؛ ارواح؛ اتاق دربسته؛ نویسنده: پل آستر؛ مترجم: شهرزاد لولاچی؛ خجسته کیهان؛ تهران، نشر افق؛ 1384؛ در 455ص؛ شابک 9643691578؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1387؛ چاپ ششم 1392؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

مجموعه ای از سه رمان نویسنده ی «پست‌ مدرن» «آمریکایی»، «پل استر» است؛ این سه رمان که هر یک داستان جنایی و شخصیت‌های داستانی مجزایی از هم دارند، تنها به سبب مکان مشترک، سه گانه را تشکیل داده اند؛ عنوانهای این سه رمان، «شهر شیشه ای»، «ارواح» و «اتاق دربسته» هستند

رمان «شهر شیشه ای» نوشته ی «پل استر» یکی از رمانهای «سه گانه ی نیویورک» است؛ در این داستان: «پس از یک تلفن عجیب در نیمه شب، دانیل کویین نویسنده داستانهای پلیسی درگیر پرونده ای میشود که از تمام کتابهایی که تا به حال نوشته است پیچیده تر است؛ دانیل که درگیر پرونده استیلمن شده، تا به آنجا پیش میرود که گذشته ی خویش را فراموش، و تمام هستی خویش را وقف نگهبانی از استیلمن میکند؛

نقل نمونه متن: «شب بود؛ روی تخت دراز کشیده بود، به صدای باران بر پنجره گوش میداد و سیگار میکشید، در فکر بود که باران کی بند میآید و صبح به پیاده روی طولانی خواهد رفت؛ کتاب باز شده ی سفرهای مارکوپولو روی بالش کنارش بود؛ از وقتی که دو هفته پیش آخرین رمان ویلیام ویلسون را تمام کرده بود، وقت گذرانی میکرد؛ راوی و کارآگاه داستانش، «ماکس ورک» معمای جنایات مفصلی را حل کرده، بارها کتک خورده و در لحظه ی آخر جان سالم به در برده بود، و انگار «کوئین» هم از تلاشهای او حسابی خسته شده بود؛ «ورک» در طی سالها به «کوئین» خیلی نزدیک میشد؛ برخلاف «ویلیام ویلسون» که هنوز نامی بیش نبوده، «ورک» بیش از پیش به حقیقت نزدیک میشد؛ در شخصیتهای سه گانه ای که «کوئین» پیدا کرده بود، «ویلسونِ» یاوه گو، «کوئینِ» آلت دست، و «ورک» صدای جانداری بود، که به تمام قضایا معنی میبخشید؛ «ویلسون» حتی اگر توهم هم بود، حیات آن دو دیگر را توجیه میکرد.»؛ پایان نقل

رمان «ارواح» نوشته ی «پل استر»، دومین رمان کوتاه، از مجموعه ی سه گانه ی ایشان است، که بین سالهای 1985میلادی تا سال 1987میلادی منتشر شده است؛ «پل استر» نویسنده ی پست مدرن «آمریکایی» بار دیگر، ماجرایی پلیسی میآفریند که در بستر نگاهی فلسفی تحقق مییابد؛ «استر» موقعیتهای خلاقانه ای را، در روند داستان پیش میگیرد؛ او نه تنها، مشابه دیگر داستانهای کارگاهی-پلیسی، کارآگاه خصوصی را، به عنوان مغز متفکر مطرح نمیکند تا معمای داستان را کشف کند، بلکه از آن شخصیتی میآفریند، که همزمان، باهوش، و با درایت است، خود او نیز صرفا به جزئی از ماجرای معما بدل شده، و در آن حل میشود و اینگونه تراژدی داستان را رقم میزند؛ در این داستان فلسفی؛ با «آبی (کاراگاه خصوصی)» ماهری مواجهیم، که از سوی «سفید» مامور میشود، شخصی به نام «سیاه» را تحت نظر بگیرد، و هر هفته گزارشی از کارهای او تنظیم کند، و برای «سفید» بفرستد؛ «آبی» در روند ماموریت خود، رفته رفته درمییابد با پرونده ای راکد، و غیرعادی مواجه است، که در آن هیچ رویدادی رخ نمیدهد؛ «سیاه» هر روز پشت میزش مینشیند، و میخواند و مینویسد؛ ماهها میگذرند و «آبی» آنقدر «سیاه» را زیر نظر گرفته، که دیگر رفتارش شبیه او شده، و نیازی به مراقبت از او، در خود نمیبیند؛ گزارشها را طبق نظم همیشگی مینویسد، و برای «آبی» میفرستد، و در ذهنش، خیالپردازیهایی درباره ی «سیاه» میکند؛ «سفید» گزارشها را میخواند و دستمزد «آبی» را بدون هیچ توضیح، یا صحبتی برایش پست میکند؛

نویسنده در آخرین کتاب از سری «سه گانه نیویورک» خویش، با وارونه کردن داستانهای معمایی، نوع تازه ای از هنر روایت ر�� آفریده است؛ ایشان در رمان «اتاق در بسته»، کنجکاوی خوانشگر اندیشمند خویش را، برمیانگیزد، و جستجوی پلیسی، و کارآگاهی، برای یافتن حقیقت را به جستجوی نابتر و فلسفیتر کاوش در هویت، بدل میسازد؛ «فنشاو» ناپدید شده است، و از او همسر، فرزند و مجموعه ای داستان، و شعر نمایشنامه بر جای مانده است؛ اما چرا راوی چنین وسواس آمیز، زندگی «فنشاو» صمیمی ترین دوست دوران کودکی خویش را میکاود؟ در «اتاق دربسته»، داستان از زبان اول شخص (نویسنده) روایت میشود؛ «فان شاو» که از دوستان قدیمی راوی کتاب است، به شکل عجیبی ناپدید شده؛ همسر «شاو» که از پیدا شدن او ناامید شده، و میپندارد که شوهرش مرده است، از راوی داستان، که او نیز نویسنده است، میخواهد تا دست نوشته ها، و آثار بر جای مانده از همسر مفقود شده را منتشر کند؛ ادامه ی آشنایی نویسنده با همسر «فن شاو»، به ازدواج آن دو میانجامد، اما با روشن شدن این حقیقت، که «فن شاو» زنده است، داستان مسیر دیگری پیدا میکند؛ راوی تلاش خود را برای یافتن وی آغاز میکند، و در آن مسیر، با زوایای شخصیتی، و زندگی او بیشتر آشنا میشود؛ روندی که به یک پایان نسبتا غیرمنتظره میانجامد. در آثار استر، ترکیبی از تفکرات روانشناختی و رگه هایی از پوچ گرایی و بدبینی دیده می شود؛ با اینحال وی در این زمینه راه افراط را نپیموده، و خوانشگر با خواندن «اتاق دربسته» دچار آشفتگی و دلزدگی نمیشود، اگرچه ممکن است در بخشهایی از داستان و در مواجه با برخی پیچیدگیها اندکی سردرگم شود؛ «اتاق دربسته» داستان سوم سه گانه نیویورک بشمار میآید؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 20/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 21/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,151 reviews1,688 followers
December 17, 2022
NULLA È REALE FUORCHÉ IL CASO


Disegno dalla graphic novel ”Città di vetro” di Davide Mazzucchelli (1994).

Nulla è reale fuorché il caso è scritto nel primo romanzo della trilogia, Città di vetro, e mi pare una summa della poetica austeriana.

Il mio primo incontro con Paul Auster è stato circa trent’anni fa (1990) quando Guanda pubblicò La musica del caso (e si da il caso che il “caso” ritorna). Fu subito amore. Amore grande.
La libreria dove mi rifornivo allora non esiste più da tempo, adesso è un Ferrari Store.
Anche il mio amore per Paul Auster adesso non esiste più.


Disegno dalla graphic novel ”Città di vetro” di Davide Mazzucchelli (1994).

Dopo il primo libro cercai altro. Ma altro non c’era.
Avrebbe potuto esserci, ma era fuori catalogo: si trattava proprio di questa trilogia. Fu pubblicata da Rizzoli lo stesso anno della sua prima uscita in US, ma nel 1990 era già fuori catalogo. Ho dovuto aspettare sei anni, finché non è stata ripubblicata da Einaudi.

Se avessi dato il voto quando ho letto il libro sarebbero state sicuramente cinque stelle. Adesso quattro vanno bene.
Nel frattempo ho letto anche una versione graphic novel.


Jim Jarmush recita insieme a Harvey Keitel nel film scritto e diretto da Paula Auster “Blue in the Face”, 1995.

Si chiama trilogia di NY perché sono tre storie, tre romanzi diversi, pubblicati in US separatamente (1985, 1986 e 1987) e poi riediti insieme sempre nel 1987.
Città di vetro, Fantasmi, La stanza chiusa sono i titoli delle tre storie.
E New York è il set di tutte e tre. E probabilmente il vero protagonista, anche se sembra una città non-luogo.

In ogni storia il protagonista è impegnato in una specie di indagine, come se fosse un detective. Ma sono inchieste immerse nell’allucinazione, nel surreale, perfino nell’assurdo, dove tutto è sfocato, sfumato. Ma il senso di mistero e attesa è forte, insistente, serra l’anima. Auster gioca col genere thriller, o forse sarebbe meglio dire col genere giallo, poliziesco, ma è ben altro che gli interessa.


Ancora Harvey Keitel, qui insieme a Mira Sorvino, in “Lulu on the Bridge”, scritto e diretto da Paul Auster, 1998.

È un gioco di incastri e scatole cinesi e specchi e matrioske, dove per esempio, il primo detective è uno scrittore di romanzi polizieschi e un altro personaggio centrale si chiama guarda caso proprio Paul Auster. Che anche nel romanzo è uno scrittore di romanzi, ma invece lo becchiamo che sta scrivendo un saggio su don Quixote, le cui iniziali, D e Q, sono le stesse del protagonista, Daniel Quinn.
Daniel Quinn assume l’identità di Paul Auster. Alla fine Daniel Quinn sparisce, ma lascia un manoscritto dove racconta tutta la vicenda: manoscritto che qualcuno ritrova nella stanza dalla quale Quinn scompare, e che diventa il primo romanzo della trilogia, Città di vetro

Nella seconda storia i personaggi si chiama Blue, Black, Brown, White, senza ancora anteporre il Mr che qualche anno dopo (1992) Tarantino rese celebri col suo fulminante esordio Reservoir Dogs – Le iene.


Il terzo e ultimo film scritto e diretto da Paul Auster, “The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007) Qui i protagonisti: David Thwelis e Irène Jacob.

In generale, ci sono scrittori che diventano investigatori, o viceversa. Si indaga, si cerca, non si trova, e più si procede nell’inchiesta più ci si smarrisce. La città è un labirinto. Si perde l’identità, si assume quella di un altro, ci si sdoppia, il caso (caos?) regna sovrano.
La ricerca dell’identità è una costante, ma altrettanto costante è il mutare dell’identità perché nulla e nessuno è quello che sembra e appare.
È l’intera poetica di Auster per come ho imparato a percepirla, temi che si ritrovano anche nelle sue opere seguenti.

Sono stato un gran fan di Auster. Poi, qualcosa s’è spezzato. Forse una certa ripetitività, che si trasforma in monotonia, e quindi noia. Forse questi personaggi smarriti che si cercano per smarrirsi ancora di più, che perdono i riferimenti e li tolgono anche al lettore, alla fine m’hanno confuso e smarrito.
Fatto sta che mi è sceso l’interesse mentre lui è diventato sempre più intervistato, sempre più fico, sempre più familista, ha cominciato a non perdersi un party, di quelli con intellettuali & modelle…


Disegno dalla graphic novel ”Città di vetro” di Davide Mazzucchelli (1994).
Profile Image for Guille.
756 reviews1,546 followers
October 11, 2020
“He venido a Nueva York porque es el más desolado de los lugares, el más abyecto. La decrepitud está en todas partes, el desorden es universal. Basta con abrir los ojos para verlo. La gente rota, las cosas rotas, los pensamientos rotos. Toda la ciudad es un montón de basura.”
En una entrevista se ofreció a la consideración del autor una interpretación de “Trilogía de Nueva York”, esta fue su respuesta:
“Lo que sea que digas probablemente será interesante y tal vez no se aleje demasiado de la verdad, pero no significa que sea consciente de ello cuando escribo. Todo surge de un zumbido inconsciente y realmente no sé lo que estoy haciendo. Si suena bien, lo hago, y si suena mal, lo rompo y empiezo de nuevo. Todo tiene que ver con un estado emocional en el que te encuentras, ciertos tipos de imágenes que te atrapan y se sienten poderosas y convincentes.”
Interpretaciones aparte, ese zumbido inconsciente es lo único que realmente importa, lo tiene que oír el autor pero también lo oye el lector cuando entra en ese estado emocional, cuando consigue esa conexión con el texto, que hace tan especial el encuentro con algunos libros. Un zumbido siempre muy personal, pero que en el caso de libros tan abiertos y sugerentes como este lo hacen aún más propio e intransferible. Como dice un personaje en “La habitación cerrada”:
“Las historias sólo suceden a quienes son capaces de contarlas… las experiencias sólo se presentaban a quienes eran capaces de tenerlas.”
Yo he tenido la suerte de oír el zumbido, de tener una experiencia con “Trilogía de Nueva York”, tres experiencias, de hecho, distintas y parecidas pues las tres historias vienen a decir cosas muy similares y prácticamente con los mismos elementos. Escritores metidos a detectives y detectives que parecen escritores (no es una novela de detectives, sí de escritores) que en un momento de sus vidas se dan cuenta de que no son ellos quienes las dirigen y se rebelan de la mejor forma que pueden. Personas que dejan de vivir para centrarse en la vida de otros, uno para autodisolverse en otros yoes, otro inocentemente y sin pretenderlo, el último para borrar su influjo.
“Escribir es una actividad solitaria. Se apodera de tu vida. En cierto sentido, un escritor no tiene vida propia. Incluso cuando está ahí, no está realmente ahí.”
La identidad, el gran tema de Auster, más relevante para alguien como él que en cada libro tiene que desdoblarse en un sinfín de personajes ¿Quiénes somos? ¿Podemos estar seguros de lo que creemos que somos? ¿Llegamos a conocernos alguna vez o nos vamos haciendo cada día más opacos? ¿Pudimos ser otra cosa, nuestra vida podría haber discurrido por otros caminos, cómo de distintos podríamos haber sido, somos solo fruto del azar? ¿Hasta qué punto podemos rechazar las imposiciones que nos vienen de fuera e imponer nuestra voluntad? ¿Hasta qué punto nuestro propio pasado nos empuja en una dirección?
“En general, las vidas parecen virar bruscamente de una cosa a otra, moverse a empellones y trompicones, serpentear. Una persona va en una dirección, gira abruptamente a mitad de camino, da un rodeo, se detiene, echa a andar de nuevo. Nunca se sabe nada, e inevitablemente llegamos a un sitio completamente diferente de aquel al que queríamos llegar.”
Pero también hay infinidad de otras cuestiones. No pocas tratan sobre el lenguaje, la relación entre las cosas y las palabras que las nombran, una mítica lengua natural, las limitaciones que el lenguaje nos impone… Sobre el escritor y la literatura, sobre el escritor y su oficio, el amor que deben sentir por las palabras, la necesidad que tienen de creer en el poder de los libros, la confusión entre narrador, personaje y autor, la posibilidad o no de retratar la realidad, de representarla, de fijarla, de ser su espejo, la oscuridad como causa y fuente del escritor, la necesidad imperiosa de escribir, la necesidad imperiosa de ser leídos, la forma en la que les gustaría ser leídos… No está la historia en las palabras, sino en la lucha, y…
“… si significa algo o no significa nada no es la historia quien ha de decirlo”.
Sea como sea, la novela es intensa, desconcertante, contradictoria, autodestructiva incluso, y hermosa. Bien puedo hacer mías, para cada una de las novelas y para todas en su conjunto, las palabras de uno de sus personajes:
“Todas las palabras me eran conocidas, y sin embargo parecían juntadas de un modo extraño, como si su propósito final fuese anularse unas a otras. No se me ocurre ninguna otra manera de expresarlo. Cada frase borraba la frase anterior, cada párrafo hacía imposible el siguiente. Es extraño, entonces, que la sensación que sobrevive de ese cuaderno sea de gran lucidez.”

POSTDATA
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,562 followers
December 13, 2020
Is The NYT three novels-in-one, or a single tome?

Ah, well: That's four Auster "novels" in a row for me I guess... and, (not) interestingly enough, they were ALL very much alike (Oracle Night, The Glass City, Ghosts, The Locked Room). It's becoming clear that Auster has adopted very interesting themes, such as the transitory nature of fiction and reality; the writer's world manifested in a literal form; & the double... He writes in free-flow and non sequiturs.

Yeah, I will be the first one to admit that almost always his conclusions are not concrete (and they don't have to be) and will even venture to say that with the exclusion of "Timbuktu" his endings are all incredibly inelegant. But damn if he isn't readable! Even the writer's ego, a quality I deem somewhat lame when personified in literature doesn't bother me. Yeah, Auster is in love with New York, with the writer, & obviously with himself. But doesn't the saying go "Write what you KNOW"? And Auster, perhaps not really knowing how his novels will EVER end, does do something very admirable: He keeps the reader in a trance, submerging him/her in a world completely constructed from the marriage of the writer's everyday experience and his almost-visceral psyche.
March 17, 2017
Σε αυτή την τριλογία θα άλλαζα τίτλο. Θα την ονόμαζα
" Έτσι ειναι η ζωή" και αφού ειναι έτσι,μπορεί να γίνει και κάπως ετσι και αλλιώς και διαφορετική και πάλι ίδια και ξανά αλλιώτικη.

Δεν είμαι σίγουρη τι να γράψω για αυτό το βιβλίο. Δεν θα ήθελα να μπω σε στερεότυπα και κοινά λόγια. Άλλωστε αυτός ειναι και ο σκοπός του βιβλίου, δεν χωράει σε πλαίσια,σε συνηθισμένες πλοκές με αρχή-μέση-τέλος. Αποτελεί απο μονο του"είδος",υπηρετεί δικούς του κανόνες ρεαλισμού,ωμότητας,φαντασίας και ισως αυτογνωσίας ή απελπισμένης προσπάθειας προς την αυτογνωσία.

Και στις τρεις ιστορίες ο συγγραφέας ειναι οι ήρωες του και οι ήρωες του -δλδ ο ίδιος- ειναι υπάρξεις που ζουν, εξελίσσονται,μεταλλάσσονται, ψάχνονται,διαμορφώνονται μπερδεύονται και κρατούν σημειώσεις σε ένα υπέροχο κόκκινο σπιράλ σημειωματάριο.(ένα τέτοιο πρέπει να πάρουμε όλοι θαρρώ).
Αυτές λοιπόν οι υπάρξεις προσπαθούν με αυτοθυσία να μην παρεκκλίνουν απο τους πραγματικούς τους εαυτούς οι οποίοι-όπως και ο συγγραφέας-δεν πρέπει να χάσουν την αλήθεια τους μέσα στο ψέμμα που δημιουργούν οι ίδιοι ανάμεσα σε αυτόν τον κόσμο και τον κόσμο της φαντασ��ας. Δεν πρέπει να χαθούν,δεν πρέπει να χάσουν το νόημα. ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΣΜΑ: αρνητικό. Δεν τα καταφέρνουν.
Όλοι αυτοί οι ήρωες μπορεί και να είμαστε εμείς οι ίδιοι ή κάποιοι που προσποιούνται πως ειναι εμείς.

[Ας μην τρελαθούμε άλλο ...]

Κοντολογίς, αν ψάχνεται γιατί και πως καθαρογραμμένα και αυτονόητα, αν θέλετε αναγνωρίσιμο και συγκεκριμένο τροπο γραφής με αναλύσεις και μυθιστορηματική πλοκ�� και ως εκ τούτου ένα καποιο τέλος, ΜΗΝ το διαβάσετε.

Αυτή βεβαίως κατα την γνώμη μου ειναι και η μαγεία του συγγραφέα. Απέριττη,ανεπιτήδευτη, χαοτική. Μια μαγεία που σε παρασύρει σε άλλη πραγματικότητα σε διττή και συμβολική ομορφιά με μια απογοητευτική κοσμοθεωρία.

Καλή ανάγνωση;
Πολλούς ασπασμούς!!

* Με συγκλόνισε ο μονόλογος του γιου Πίτερ Στιλμαν.
Profile Image for Matthias.
107 reviews338 followers
December 16, 2015
I have encountered a great many reviews that start with "I don't know how to begin this review". By this claim the reviewer expresses doubt, but the expression of these doubts is the immediate solution to the reviewer's predicament, making both the doubts and the claim kind of moot. I was thinking of starting off this review the same way, given that this book leaves you wondering about everything, but thinking about that as an option makes it also dishonest, because I would know where to start with this review. Luckily I found a way around it so ta-da, here we go, smooth sailing, no over-explanation there at all!

This book is a particular kind of great. It's unique in my view, but that's not saying much because my basis for comparison is rather small, so let me elaborate.

"The New York Trilogy" is comprised of three stories. This is not surprising. It makes sense. This is also the point where the "sense" stops. That big box of "sense" you're so comfortable in, all snug and cosy and warm? This book is a bucket of cold water poured all over that adorable situation, making you jump out of the box, into a beautiful realm of wild and wondrous thoughts.

The book starts with the quirky idea of the first story's protagonist being called up by a person looking for "Paul Auster". Hmmm, where have I seen that name? Daniel Quinn, a writer, the guy who has picked up the phone, decides to pretend he is in fact Paul Auster, a private investigator. A rather cute idea which is only the beginning of the story, and of a trilogy that becomes a very intricate riddle, with questions of identity and purpose pervading it. The author, the characters, the reader are all embroiled in these stories of stake-outs, shadowing, minicious observations and carefully planned investigations and what starts out as a seemingly cute gimmick of having the author's name as part of the story turns into an adventure you yourself become part of. You as a reader become the investigator. You'll get clues, but without the guarantee you'll get all of them. You'll get answers, but you'll have to find more by yourself.


Paul Auster in bed, reading Paul Auster's novel, "The New York Trilogy", in New York City, New York. It's a book by Paul Auster, for Paul Auster, about several Paul Austers, including himself, Paul Auster, author otherwise known for rather austere writings.

This book is immensely readable: the prose employed makes this novel a page-turner, the plot is always intriguing enough to keep one on his toes (understatement of the year). But it's difficult. It's like a Rubic's cube, only without the guarantee that it's actually solvable.

To some readers, this is frustrating. To me, the beauty of this book is that I couldn't solve its mystery, despite convincing myself I have identified some parts of answers and some threads that connect everything. Paul Auster created one of literature's most beautiful riddles. It's a bit of a magic trick and any kind of reveal "given" to you would ruin it, so I'm not going to scour the Internet for solutions. What I am going to do, is try and solve it upon a re-read, but frankly I think I'll be a bit disappointed if I can.

The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because of the slight headache it gave me. This was probably a bit self-inflicted. I always want everything to fit. This book is like a puzzle box, but the pieces inside are from several different puzzles, none of them matching the picture on the box, and none of the puzzle-sets being complete. I tried stomping the pieces together, hence the headache. I'm planning to return to it and see if I can fill in the blanks somehow, this time without stomping on the pieces and without any headaches. I know I'll enjoy it all over again, but probably a bit differently, knowing what I think I know. This riddle-nature of the book is what makes it so unique: uniquely readable, uniquely challenging, uniquely re-readable, uniquely enjoyable. And very recommendable.

All that having been said, I really don't know how to finish this review.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,859 reviews519 followers
April 5, 2023
While reading this puzzling set of novels, I wondered what I could say about them. We think, of course, of the loss of reference points and the search for identity. But many people have said all of this before, much better than I could do. So? So this was my first contact with Auster, and despite the confusing universe, the three short stories take you to their worlds. Never mind the crossings of characters with different names. It is indescribable. A thriller without investigation, a story with white, black, and blue characters. Stories in history. Characters were resuming the author's life - characters bearing the author's name. No, you can't say anything; you must read this trilogy if you are not allergic to absurdity.
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews723 followers
January 9, 2020
Baudelaire cited by Paul Auster in City of Glass: "Il me semble que je serais toujours bien là où je ne suis pas." In other words: It seems to me that I will always be happy in the place where I am not. Or, more bluntly: Wherever I am not is the place where I am myself. Or else, taking the bull by the horns: Anywhere out of the world.

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not....

3.5 leaning towards 4... ah, my hate-love relationship with Paul Auster...
I loved some of Auster's books, Brooklyn Follies, Book of Illusions.... but he always keeps me wondering. Like his 'Man in the Dark'. This NY Trilogy (City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room)... it's a crime noire novel... and it keeps you wondering what's going on. I read ShovelMoney1's review who says, 'a study on the watched and the watcher in a sort of claustrophobic ever decreasing circles format'. Good description. Auster's writing is rather pretentious at times, sort of bothers me, but it is also poetic, mysterious and that is where he draws me in....
City of Glass was a difficult start for me, had trouble getting through, including the rather pretentious pages of theories... I read some reviews here of City of Glass which were rather aggressively negative. Putting it mildly. I even considered stopping after that first one, but decided to read on and then the book got to me.... although I'm still thinking how much I liked it and what the h*** does Auster mean with those three stories that seem to make a full circle...
Read it again maybe? Mmmmmm.... maybe. For now, Auster did get into my head, yet again.

'In three variants on the classic detective story, Paul Auster makes the well-traversed terrain of New York city his own, as it becomes a strange, compelling landscape in which identities merge or fade and questions serve only to further obscure the truth.'

I stayed on in the house for a few more days. My plan was to do nothing for as long as I could, to rest up. I was exhausted, and I need a chance to regroup before going back to Paris. A day or two went by. I walked through the fields, visited the woods, sat out in the sun reading French translations of American detective novels. It should have been the perfect cure: holing up in the middle of nowhere, letting my mind float free. But none of it really helped. The house wouldn't make room for me, and by the third day, I sensed that I was no longer alone, that I could never be alone in that place. Fanshawe was there, and no matter how hard I tried not to think of him, I couldn't escape. This was unexpected, galling. Now that I had stopped looking for him, he was more present to me than ever before. The whole process had been reversed. After all these months of trying to find him, I felt as though I was the one who had been found...
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,424 reviews3,380 followers
August 31, 2018
Where does it all begin and where does it all end?
But perhaps he would be able to make up for the past by plunging forward. By coming to the end, perhaps he could intuit the beginning.

To seek we must have an object we want to find. To quest we must have a goal we want to achieve. But even if we don’t have an objective we seek and quest anyway because we want to penetrate into the future.
Listen carefully, and perhaps you will learn something. In his little speech to Alice, Humpty Dumpty sketches the future of human hopes and gives the clue to our salvation: to become masters of the words we speak, to make language answer our needs. Humpty Dumpty was a prophet, a man who spoke truths the world was not ready for.

How often pursuing a certain purpose we are on a wild goose chase. And even if we find something how often ot is not a thing we were looking for.
Every tale of the trilogy is an existential quest embarking on which one must find one’s own ego.
There are the watched and there are the watchers and there are those who watch the watchers…
11 reviews3 followers
January 6, 2008
I can't believe I read this all the way through, but I just kept thinking that at some point, something has to happen. I was disappointed. The writing is mechanical and boring. It's like being told a story by someone barely interested what they are saying. There is no experience to it, no stake in the characters, and like I said, nothing of note really happens. When Auster makes an attempt to wrap up the disjointed and feeble plot lines after two and three-quarter books of emptiness and abrupt endings, it feels like he is just throwing words and sentences out in order to get it over with. At this point, I didn't care. I just wanted the book finished so I could move on to something with even a little more substance.
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews875 followers
October 9, 2011
I think this was my first encounter with Paul Auster, a man who I met through the cult of the 1001 books to read before you die list. Prior to that I was vaguely aware of Auster and his peculiar brand of love/loath inciting literature which had friends alternatively raging or swooning, but had never bothered my arse to go and see what all the fuss was about.

Turns out I rather loved this - once I had progressed beyond the first forty pages. For the first forty pages I'd already rather rudely pigeon-holed the book as "arty-wank", thinking to myself, Oh dear this looks like it is entering into pretentious toss territory. When I say entering I mean approaching the door marked pretentious toss and busting its way in using a battering ram made out of glued together copies of The Body Artist by Don DeLillo, then stepping over the wreckage of the door and striding to the middle of the room to stand on the podium of arty-toss-bollocks while waving its arms over its head..... but nope, turns out it's all good.

Excellent trilogy, a study on the watched and the watcher in a sort of claustrophobic ever decreasing circles format which made my tiny mind spin, but in a good way, like the literary equivalent of an MC Escher drawing. In a complete about turn I then had to remove the book from the arty-wank pigeon hole and give it a little hug. This was followed by me then going out to purchase pretty much all of Paul Auster's books. Can't think for the life of me why I've not bothered to review more of them on Goodreads either. This one is deserving of a place on the 1001 books to read before you die list - just don't let the first forty pages fool you.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,295 followers
September 21, 2021
Mi-am propus să recitesc doar ceea ce subliniasem (cu pix roșu) la prima lectură din 2007. Am sfîrșit însă prin a citi toată cartea, fiindcă nu mai țineam minte mare lucru din ea, nici măcar împrejurările primei lecturi, aproape nimic.

E un roman artificios, în linia povestirilor lui Henry James. Un personaj pornește în căutarea altuia, al doilea se ascunde atît de bine încît nu poate fi găsit, fiindcă nu vrea decît să-l chinuie pe primul, e un pervers. Amîndoi sînt excesiv de nervoși. Primul face o obsesie, cade în alcoolism și erotomanie, ajunge în preajma nebuniei și doar un noroc îl ferește de disoluția nervilor. Dar, în realitate, se poate presupune că personajul cu adevărat nebun și cu psihicul în descompunere e al doilea. Nu știm foarte sigur (și nci nu ne-ar folosi la nimic) dacă primul nu e cumva al doilea și nici dacă al doilea nu e cumva primul. Și nu e deloc limpede nici dacă nu cumva întreaga anchetă se petrece doar în mintea unuia dintre cei doi, nu știm care, dar asta nu mai contează. Precum scrie în acest pasaj:

„Mă înşelasem. Fanshawe era exact unde eram şi eu şi fusese acolo încă de la bun început. Din momentul în care sosise scrisoarea lui, eu mă străduisem să mi-l închipui, să-l văd aşa cum ar fi putut să fie, dar mintea mea vizualiza întotdeauna un vid imens, în cel mai bun caz, reuşeam să creez o imagine destul de săracă: uşa unei camere încuiate. Asta era tot: Fanshawe se afla singur în acea cameră, condamnat la o singurătate mitică, poate în viaţă, poate respirînd, visînd la Dumnezeu ştie ce. Acea cameră, mi-am dat eu seama atunci, se afla înăuntrul craniului meu” (p.311).

Subiectul celor trei povestiri e greu de precizat. Aș spune și eu ca recenzenții la modă: e o carte cu privire la neputința principială a individului de a stabili cine este și încotro se îndreaptă. Și bineînțeles despre imposibilitatea de a găsi / de a da un sens vieții noastre:

„Toţi vrem să ni se spună poveşti, pe care le ascultăm la fel ca atunci cînd eram copii. Ne imaginăm adevărata poveste în vîrtejul cuvintelor şi pentru a face asta ne punem în locul personajelor din poveste, prefăcîndu-ne că putem să-l înţelegem pentru că ne înţelegem pe noi înşine. Asta e o amăgire. Poate că existăm pentru noi înşine, iar uneori chiar reuşim să întrezărim cine sîntem, dar la urma urmei nu putem fi niciodată siguri, şi pe măsură ce vieţile noastre merg mai departe, devenim din ce în ce mai opaci faţă de noi înşine, din ce în ce mai conştienţi de propria noastră incoerenţă” (p.264).

Nu mai trebuie să spun că am găsit digresiunile eseistice mult mai interesante decît acțiunea „polițistă”. Astfel, o ipoteză cu privire la adevăratul autor al romanului Don Quijote puteți citi la pp.104-105.

Chiar dacă Trilogia New York-ului nu mi-a plăcut, am devenit curios. Mă apuc chiar acum să citesc Cartea iluziilor.
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,766 followers
April 30, 2012
ثلاثية نيويورك

قرأت هذه الثلاثية قبل سنوات، وخربشت وقتها بعض الأفكار حولها، ولكن لأنني لم أكن حينها مهتم بنشر مراجعاتي للكتب، فبقيت هذه الأفكار في حالة غير مكتملة في ملف نصي مهمل، فلذا أعتذر مقدماً عن الحالة الغريبة التي قد تبدو بها هذه المراجعة، اعتبروها مراجعة معتقة نوعاً ما.

صدر الجزء الأول من ثلاثية نيويورك (مدينة الزجاج) سنة 1985 م، ثم صدر الجزءان التاليان (الأشباح) و(الغرفة الموصدة) في السنة التالية، وصارت الروايات الثلاث منذ ذلك الحين تصدر معا ً، تقدم الثلاثية عادة على أنها رواية تحري، ويمكننا فهم هذا بسهولة حالما نقرأها.

الترجمة العربية قام بها كامل يوسف حسين، صدر كامل ترجمته بمقدمة ركز فيها على مكانة أوستر في الأدب الأمريكي، وأبعاد عالمه الروائي، وجماليات المكان في ثلاثية نيويورك.

قبل أن نبدأ في تناول الروايات،كل رواية على حدة، من المهم أن نحدد الموضوعات (الثيمات) التي تنتظم الثلاثية، سنحددها بشكل عام، ثم سنرى مدى انطباق كل موضوعة على كل رواية.

الموضوعة الأولى: فتش عن الكتاب !!

هناك كتاب ما، كتاب حقيقي في كل رواية من روايات الثلاثية، هذا الكتاب مفتاح من مفاتيح الرواية، أي أنه يعبر عن فكرتها.

الموضوعة الثانية: الصدفة !!

أول ما نلاحظه في عالم أوستر هو فكرة الصدفة لديه، ففي الصفحة الأولى من الثلاثية يقول الراوي: "وعقب ذلك بوقت طويل، عندما غدا بمقدوره التفكير بالأمور التي وقعت له، كان قد توصل إلى أنه ما من شيء حقيقي إلا الصدفة"، وسنلاحظ نوعين من الصدفة لديه، الصدفة التي تنطلق ككرة الثلج فتجرف كل ما يأتي بعدها، والصدفة التي لا يحدث من ورائها شيء، صدفة تقع فنتعجب من وقوعها، ولكننا نمضي بعدها كما كنا.

الموضوعة الثالثة: أحداث غريبة بلا تفسير !!!

ففي كل رواية نجد أحداث غريبة، لا تفسير منطقي لها، ربما يكون لها تفسيرات رمزية، ولكنها في أحيان أخرى تبدو كتحدي للقارئ !!!

الموضوعة الرابعة: لعبة الأسماء.

لدى أوستر هوس كبير بالأسماء وتشابهاتها، وقد تعودنا من الروائيين الحذر في تعاملهم مع الأسماء، ومحاولتهم الدائمة ابتكار أسماء تبعدهم عن المشاكل، وأيضا ً عدم تكرار الأسماء داخل الرواية حتى لا يرتبك القارئ، ولكن لأوستر شأن آخر.


تنبيه: ما سيأتي يكشف حبكة كل رواية من الروايات الثلاثة.


* مدينة الزجاج

ملخص الرواية:

تبدأ القصة والتي تروى على لسان راو ٍ لا نتعرف عليه في البداية، باتصال خاطئ يرد إلى دانييل كوين، كاتب الروايات البوليسية، والذي لا يكتبها باسمه الصريح وإنما باسم (وليام ولسون)، وبطله فيها تحري اسمه ماكس ورك، المتصل بكوين يطلب محادثة (بول أوستر) !!! وهو رجل متخصص بالتحريات، فيدعي كوين أنه هو أوستر ويذهب للقاء المتصل الغامض، فيجد أمامه شاب أشقر يرتدي ملابس بيضاء بالكامل ويتحدث بطريقة غريبة، هذا الشاب يدعى بيتر ستيلمان ويفهم من كلامه أنه كان محبوسا ً في الظلام لمدة 13 عاما ً على يد والده، وتكمل فيما بعد زوجة ستيلمان القصة فتخبر كوين عن والد بيتر، الدكتور الجامعي المتفوق والذي حبسه لسنوات طويلة حتى تسبب حريق في كشف ما فعله بابنه فأودع عندها السجن، وها هو قد خرج الآن ويهدد ابنه بالموت، فلذا يحتاج الزوجان إلى تحري خاص يقوم بمتابعة الأب حال وصوله إلى المدينة ويراقب سلوكه، يستعرض كوين حال عودته إلى المنزل بعض قصص الأطفال الذين تعرضوا لتجربة مماثلة، ويلفت انتباهنا إلى أن اسم ابنه المتوفى هو بيتر أيضا ً، بعد عشاء وثرثرة يشتري كوين دفترا ً أحمر، ثم يذهب بعد هذا إلى مكتبة جامعة كولومبيا حيث يحصل على كتاب ألفه ستيلمان الأب، الكتاب يتناول فكرة الفردوس وبرج بابل، ويرى فيه أن الإنسان سقط من الفردوس وسوف يستعيده ببناء بابل الجديدة، وهي أمريكا حسب رؤية هنري دارك، وهو قس إنجليزي جاء إلى أمريكا وألف كتابا ً اسمه (بابل الجديدة) وهو كتاب احترقت نسخه ووجد ستيلمان نسخة وحيدة ناجية منه في علية أهله في كامبردج، الكتاب يحمل رؤية تنبؤية بأن أمريكا ستبدأ في التصاعد ابتداء ً من عام 1960 م، لتكون بابل الجديدة التي ستوحد الناس على لغة واحدة، ليعودوا إلى الفردوس، يتنبه كوين أن هذا هو نفس العام الذي حبس فيه ستيلمان ابنه، يذهب كوين بعد هذا إلى محطة القطار لمراقبة وصول ستيلمان، وهناك تحدث مصادفة وحادثة غريبة، المصادفة هي أن يجلس إلى جوار فتاة تقرأ كتابه، ولكنه لا يستطيع إخبارها بذلك لأنه متنكر باسم بول أوستر، أما الحادث الغريب فهو عندما يصل ستيلمان العجوز، حيث يرى كوين ستيلمان آخر شاب وذو حالة جيدة، ويحتار من يتبع منهما ولكنه في النهاية يتبع العجوز إلى الفندق الذي يسكن فيه، وعلى امتداد أسبوعين يتتبع كوين ستيلمان في جولاته داخل نيويورك، ويكتب كل ما يفعله في كراسته الحمراء، ونكتشف أن ستيلمان يملك هو بدوره كراسة حمراء، خلال هذه الأيام يكتشف كوين أن جولات ستيلمان تشكل في كل يوم حرفا ً، لتكون في النهاية كلمة (برج بابل) !!! يقرر كوين الاقتراب من ستيلمان فيجلس إلى جانبه في حديقة، ويقدم نفسه على أنه دانييل كوين – لا ننسى أنه الآن متنكر باسم بول أوستر، فكأن أوستر صار اسمه الحقيقي، وكوين شخصيته التي يختفي ورائها -، ويتحاوران فيخبره ستيلمان بمشروعه لاختراع لغة تعبر عن الإنسان تماما ً، في اللقاء الثاني يدعي كوين أنه هنري دارك، فيخبره ستيلمان بأن هذا غير ممكن، لأن شخصية هنري دارك وهمية اخترعها هو ليضع على لسانه بعض أفكاره، في اللقاء الثالث يدعي كوين أنه بيتر ابن ستيلمان، بعد هذه اللقاءات الثلاث يختفي العجوز من الفندق، يذهب كوين للقاء بول أوستر، ولكنه يكتشف أن بول أوستر الذي يلتقي به ليس إلا كاتب، ولا علاقة له ببول أوستر التحري، فيتحدثان عن رواية دون كيشوت، ثم تأتي زوجة بول أوستر سيري وابنه دانييل، فيغادر كوين بعدما يلفت انتباهنا إلى تشابه اسمه مع اسم ابن أوستر، يحاول كوين الآن التخلي عن المهمة عن طريق الاتصال بزوجة ستيلمان، ولكنه يجد الخط مشغولا ً طيلة الوقت، يتجول كوين عندها في نيويورك بجولات يصفها الكاتب بدقة – ولا أدري هل هي تكون كلمة أو حرفا ً بدورها !!! -، ثم يستقر في النهاية أمام البناية التي يسكنها بيتر وزوجته، ويكرس نفسه للمراقبة بشكل جنوني، وتمر شهور عليه وهو بهذه الحال !!! وعندما ينفد ماله يحاول الاتصال ببول أوستر للحصول منه على شيك أتعابه الذي أعطاه لأوستر لأن زوجة ستيلمان سجلته باسمه، يخبره أوستر عندها بأمرين الأول أن الشيك تم رده من البنك، والأمر الآخر أن ستيلمان قد انتحر، يذهب كوين عندها إلى شقته ليجد أنها قد أجرت لغيره، وأن أغراضه كلها قد اختفت، فيذهب إلى منزل ستيلمان ليكتشف أنه خال ٍ تماما ً، فيذهب عندها إلى غرفة قصية ويتعرى لينام مع كراسته الحمراء، عندما ينهض يجد طعاما ً فيأكل ويبدأ في الكتابة، ويبدأ الظلام في التزايد كل يوم حتى تنتهي الكراسة، يخبرنا الراوي عندها عن عودته إلى نيويورك وذهابه مع صديقه بول أوستر إلى منزل ستيلمان حيث يكتشفان الكراسة، ولا أثر لكوين.

أسئلة وإجابات:

لا أظن أحدا ً قرأ هذه الرواية إلا وخرج منها بحزمة لا بأس بها من الأسئلة، وبقليل من الإجابات، وأظن أن هذه سمة من سمات الرواية الجيدة، أي أنها تثير فينا الأسئلة، ولكن بشرط أن تكون أسئلة منصرفة إلى معنى ومغزى الرواية، لا أسئلة تحاول فك رموز غامضة، لا معنى يرجى ورائها.

لا يمكنني تصنيف كتابات أوستر إلى أي النوعين تنتمي، وإن كانت العبارة التي رصدها المترجم في مقدمته نقلا ً عن الناقد الأدبي لصحيفة الاندبندنت، والتي يقول فيها "تكمن قوة أوستر في أنه يلطم القصص معا ً، كالحصى الصلد فتقعقع وتقدح شررا ً، وتتردد أصداء الارتطام، ولكنها لا تخرج شيئا يسهل انتزاعه ويمكن أن نسميه المعنى"، هذه العبارة صدمتني، وجعلتني أتوجس من الولوج إلى عالم روائي غامض، تتوالد فيه الغرائب والأحجيات.

فلنفتش عن الكتاب:

ذكرت أنه في كل رواية يوجد كتاب، هذا الكتاب مرتبط بفكرة الرواية، بحيث يمكننا فهم سبب وروده فيها، في (مدينة الزجاج) كان الكتاب (دون كيخوت) لسيرفانتس، وكانت الفكرة مطاردة الإنسان لأحلامه، فعندما ذهب كوين للقاء بول أوستر دار بينهما حوار حول كتاب دون كيخوت، مغزى ذلكم الحوار هو أن دون كيخوت هو كاتب حكايته، هو الذي رتب لأن يرويها الآخرون بالطري��ة التي يريدها، هذه الفكرة استخدمها بول أوستر ليكتب روايته، وسنقوم الآن بتوزيع الأدوار لنرى كيف تتطابق الفكرتان.

سيرفانتس في روايته يحاول إقناع القارئ بأن المؤلف هو السيد حميد بن نجلي، وأنه وجد المخطوط في سوق طليطلة فاستعان بمن يترجمه من العربية إلى الأسبانية، من هو حميد بن نجلي؟ هو تجميع لأربعة أشخاص، أحدهم سانشو تابع دون كيخوت، والذي أملى حكايات سيده على آخرين، فكتبوها بالأسبانية ثم ترجمت إلى العربية، حيث يعثر سيرفانتس على المخطوط، فيقوم بترجمته من جديد إلى الأسبانية، وهذا يقودنا إلى أن سيرفانتس هو دون كيخوت.

بول أوستر المؤلف يحاول إقناعن�� بوجود راو ٍ للرواية، وهو راو ٍ لا نعرف أي شيء عنه، هذا الراوي استعان بمخطوط ليحكي لنا الحكاية، أي الكراسة الحمراء لدانييل كوين – لنلاحظ الحرفين الأولين من اسمه والتي تتشابه مع الحرفين الأولين من اسم دون كيشوت -، دانييل كوين هو دون كيخوت الرواية، له ذات الشغف بقصص التحري التي كان يكتبها – كما شغفت دون كيخوت قصص البطولات والفرسان -، وله ذات الجنون الذي يدفعه إلى الهوس والانغماس في التحري، وبما أن سيرفانتس هو دون كيخوت، فلذا أوستر هو دانييل كوين، وقد صرح أوستر في لقائه مع جمانة مراد، أن فكرة الرواية جاءته عندما تلقى اتصالا ً حقيقيا ً يسأل فيه أحدهم عن وكالة تحر��، فلذا في الواقع استقبل المكالمة بول أوستر، ولكن في الرواية كان دانييل كوين، والذي انقلبت حياته رأس على عقب بسبب هذا الاتصال، واندمج في شغفه الذي كان يمارسه كتابيا ً، أي التحري، ليقوم بالتحري بنفسه، ونلاحظ كيف ينجرف كوين في هذا، حتى يختفي.

مصادفة أم قدر؟

ذكرت أن هناك نوعين من المصادفات لدى أوستر، الصدفة التي تنطلق ككرة الثلج فتجرف كل ما يأتي بعدها، هكذا كان اتصال ستيلمان بكوين، وهناك الصدفة التي لا يحدث من ورائها شيء، وهذه تمثلها في الرواية صدفة الفتاة التي يجلس إلى جانبها كوين ويكتشف أنها تقرأ كتابا ً له، وكذا امتلاك كوين وستيلمان لكراستين حمراوين.

أحداث غريبة ورموز:

تأتي بعد هذا مسألة الأحداث الغريبة في الرواية، مثل رؤية كوين لنسختين من ستيلمان، أحدهما عجوز والآخر شاب، ما تفسير هذا؟ أنا لم أصل لشيء حول هذه الحادثة، وكذا تحركات ستيلمان العجوز التي ترسم حروفا ً، ومثله الاختفاء الغامض لبيتر ستيلمان وزوجته،أما الحالة التي يصبح عليها كوين وهوسه بالمراقبة لأشهر، ثم نهايته الغريبة، أي تعريه وبقائه في تلك الغرفة، والطعام الذي كان يوضع بين يديه، ثم الظلام الذي صار يتكاثف حتى اختفى كوين، فهذه فسرتها أولا ً بدخوله في حالة من الاندماج مع الشخصية التي يقوم بها، أي التحري، بحيث يتخلى عن حياته الطبيعية، ويصبح كبطله ماكس ورك، أما نهايته فهناك تشابه كبير بينها وبين حالة بيتر ستيلمان الابن، فبيتر ستيلمان كان محبوسا ً في الظلام يضع له والده الطعام، ثم خرج من ذاك الظلام إلى النور، كوين كان يعيش في النور ثم دلف إلى تلك الحالة التي تشبه العودة إلى الرحم، حيث يتعرى، ثم يبدأ في الدخول المتقطع في حالات إظلام متزايدة، حتى يختفي، وهناك من يضع له الطعام، ولكننا لا ندري من يكون.

تحتوي الرواية على رموز أيضا ً، مثل الكراسة الحمراء– بالمناسبة قام أوستر فيما بعد بإصدار كتاب مذكرات في التسعينات واسماه (الكراسة الحمراء) -، أيضا ً رمزية البيض – الصفحات 148، 173 -، القمر–ص 150-، الفردوس وبابل الجديدة، وهي أشياء تتكرر في روايات أوستر التالية كما سنرى.

لعبة الأسماء:

أما ما نسميه تجوزا ً مسألة الهوية في روايات أوستر، فهذه مسألة أوسع وأعقد، فالراوي مثلا ً مطلع على كل شيء تقريبا ً، ولكننا لا ندري من يكون !!! فهو ليس راو ٍ عليم، لأنه موجود في الرواية، وخاصة في صفحاتها الأخيرة، هذا الراوي صديق لبول أوستر الكاتب،لدى أوستر ابن اسمه دانييل، بطل الرواية اسمه دانييل كوين وهو كاتب روايات تحري، يكتبها باسم مستعار هو (وليام ولسون) وهو الاسم الحقيقي للاعب بيسبول كما سنعرف– واسم قصة قصيرة لإدغار آلان بو أيضا ً-، لكوين ابن ميت اسمه بيتر، وهذا هو الاسم الأول لعميله بيتر ستيلمان الابن، والذي يلتقي به كوين مدعيا ً أنه المحقق بول أوستر، كما سيدعي في حالة أخرى أنه بيتر ستيلمان ذاته، وسيدعي أنه هنري دارك، وهنري دارك شخصية وهمية صنعها بيتر ستيلمان الأب ليضع على لسانها بعض أفكاره، وهكذا نرى كل هذه الوصلات الصغيرة بين شخصيات الرواية.

كما أننا مع شيء من التأمل في الشخصيات سنكتشف أننا لا نعرف أي شيء عن الراوي، فلذا وجوده بالنسبة لنا ناقص، أو لنقل وجود غير متحقق، دانييل كوين ورغم أنه بطل الرواية إلا أنه يختفي مخلفا ً كراسة حمراء، وهذا يجعلنا نشك في وجوده، بول أوستر بدوره موجود ككاتب وله منزل وزوجة وطفل، ولكن هناك بول أوستر آخر، محقق لا نعرف عنه شيئا ً، سينتحل كوين شخصيته، بيتر ستيلمان الابن يختفي هو الآخر، وكذا زوجته فيرجينيا، ويختفي كل ما يرتبط بهما، هذا غير ترديده طيلة حواره مع كوين أن بيتر ستيلمان ليس اسمه الحقيقي، بيتر ستيلمان الأب يختفي ونعرف من أوستر أنه انتحر، هنري دارك نكتشف أنه شخصية خيالية، يبدو الأمر وكأن كل شخصية لها وجود، ولها ما ينقض هذا الوجود ويلغيه.


* الأشباح

ملخص الرواية:

تدور أحداث هذه الرواية في نيويورك، ��ي سنة 1947 م، حيث يكلف رجل يدعى وايت، تحريا ً يدعى بلو بتتبع ومراقبة رجل يدعى بلاك، يستقر بلو في الشقة المقابلة لبلاك بحيث تسهل عليه مراقبته، حيث يلاحظ أنه يقضي وقته في الكتابة والقراءة في كتاب (والدن) لهنري دايفد ثورو، فيما يقضي بلو وقته في تذكر فترة عمله مع معلمه في فن التحري السيد براون، والقضايا التي قاما بحلها مثل قضية السيد جراي الذي فقد ذاكرته وصار السيد جرين، يكتب بلو بعد هذا تقريره الأول ويرسله إلى السيد وايت، ويواصل تتبعه لبلاك في جولاته والتي تقودهما إلى مكتبة يجد بلو فيها بالصدفة كتاب والدن، ويكتشف أن ناشر الكتاب يدعى والتر بلاك، ولكنه بالتأكيد ليس السيد بلاك الذي يتتبعه، يشتري بلو الكتاب، ويكمل تتبعه حيث يدخل بلاك إلى مطعم ويلتقي بسيدة تبكي خلال اللقاء، ويفترق الاثنان، في هذا الوقت بدأ بلو يشعر بنوع من التوحد مع بلاك بحيث صار يهمل مراقبته، يذهب بلو لمباريات البيسبول والسينما، ويرى في إحدى جولاته حبيبته متعلقة بذراع رجل، وعندما تراه أمامها تضربه، يتلاعب بلو بالتقرير الذي يكتبه للسيد وايت ويراقب مكتب البريد ليرى من سيستلم البريد، حيث يستلمه رجل مقنع يطارده بلو ولكنه يفر، وعندما يأتي الشيك من السيد براون بعد أيام يحمل عبارة تأنيبية، يتنكر بلو في صورة متسول عجوز ويتحاور من بلاك حول والت ويتمان، وهنري دايفد ثورو، وآليك هاوثورن الذي أغلق على نفسه لـ 12 عاما ً يكتب فيها القصص القصيرة، منها قصة السيد ويكفيلد الذي يدبر مقلب لزوجته بأن يختفي، ولكنه لا يرجع للمنزل وتمر عشرين عام قبل أن يطرق باب منزله، ويخبر بلاك بلو أن الكتاب أشباح لأن الكتابة تستولي عليهم، ويرسل بلو تقريره الجديد ولكنه لا يذكر أي شيء عن حواره مع بلاك، فيكتب له السيد وايت: لماذا تكذب؟ يتبع بلو بعد هذا بلاك إلى فندق ويجلس معه مدعيا ً أنه بائع وثائق التأمين، فيخبره بلاك أنه تحري، وأن مهمته مراقبة شخص ما، يتنكر بلو في شكل بائع فراشي ويدخل إلى شقة بلاك، ثم يدخلها مرة أخرى ولكن في غياب بلاك، ويستولي على أوراقه، ليكتشف أنها تقاريره هو، يذهب بلو إلى شقة بلاك فيواجهه بمسدس، وبعد حوار قصير يهاجم بلو بلاك ويضربه حتى الموت، ويأخذ المخطوط الذي يعمل عليه بلاك ليقرئه عندها يفهم ويغادر الغرفة !!!

كتاب والدن والحالة الشبحية !!!

الكتاب الذي تدور حوله الرواية هو (والدن) لهنري دايفد ثورو، حيث يقرأه السيد بلاك، ويشتريه بلو فيما بعد، ويتحاوران حوله، والفكرة التي تربط بين الكتاب والرواية التي بين أيدينا هي عزلة الكاتب، حيث يخبر السيد بلاك السيد بلو المتنكر في زي متسول أثناء حوارهما الأول أن الكتاب أشباح، لأن الكتابة تستولي عليهم، وتجعلهم يعيشون في نوع من العزلة، حالة شبحية، يكون فيها الكاتب موجودا ً وغير موجود، نشاهد هذا يحدث لبلاك الذي يقضي وقته في الكتابة والقراءة، ماذا يقرأ؟ يقرأ كتاب (والدن) وهو كتاب انعزال مؤلفه هنري دايفد ثورو، كما يشير بلاك إلى انعزال إليك هاوثورن صديق ثورو، وسنلاحظ أن بلو ينعزل بدوره لا ليكتب وإنما ليراقب بلاك، فلذا تبدو لنا نهاية القصة عندما يغادر بلو الغرفة، كنوع من كسر الحالة الشبحية، ولكن الجملة الأخيرة والخبيثة "ومن هذه اللحظة فصاعدا ً لا نعرف شيئا ً"، تكشف لنا أن الكاتب يفقد حالته الشبحية عندما يتخلى عن هذه العزلة، ولكنه لا يكتسب وجودا ً، وإنما هو يفقد وجوده تماما ً، الحالة الشبحية على الأقل كانت بين بين، ولكن الخروج منها هو خروج اختفاء، فالسيد بلو بكل بساطة خرج ليصير لا شيء، كان هنا، كنا نقرأ عنه، ولكنه الآن انتهى فقد وجوده الشبحي وانتهى.

الصدفة:

وهي موجودة في هذه الرواية في اكتشاف بلو لكتاب (والدن) أمامه في مكتبة يدخلها وهو يتتبع بلاك، وكذا كون ناشر كتاب والدن اسمه الأخير بلاك، ، وكما نلاحظ كلا الصدفتين من النوع الثاني.

أحداث بلا تفسير:

لا يوجد أحداث غريبة في هذه الرواية بالمعنى الذي استخدمناه، صحيح أننا لا نعرف من هو السيد وايت؟ ولم َ كانت التقارير التي يرسلها بلو إليه تنتهي إلى السيد بلاك؟ هل كان وايت مكلف من قبل بلاك مثلا ً؟ هل عبارة بلاك "لا يا بلو، كنت بحاجة إليك منذ البداية، ولولا وجودك لما أنجزت شيئا ً" تدل على هذا؟ ربما.

القصة في تفسيري النهائي عبارة عن حلقة متصلة، وايت يكلف بلو بمراقبة بلاك، يراقبه بلو ويرسل تقاريره لوايت، أثناء حوار لبلو مع بلاك يخبره بلاك أنه تحري وأنه مكلف بمراقبة شخص ما طيلة الوقت، وفيما بعد يكتشف بلو أن بلاك لديه كل تقاريره، فكأن بلاك صار مراقبا ً لبلو، فيما بلو يراقبه، وعندما يتواجهان في نهاية القصة يؤكد بلاك لبلو أنه استخدمه وأنه كان يحتاج إليه ولكنه الآن لم يعد بحاجة إليه، وأخيرا ً لا أنسى أن الأحداث في الرواية تبدأ في تاريخ محدد هو الثالث من فبراير سنة 1947 م، وهو تاريخ ميلاد بول أوستر.

لعبة الأسماء والرموز:

نلاحظ في هذه الرواية تخلي أوستر عن الأسماء واعتماده على الألوان، ولا أجد تفسيرا ً لذلك، لأنه يعشق لعبة الأسماء، فلذا بدى لي وكأنه يركز هنا على الفكرة ويتخلى عن موضوعة الهوية.


* الغرفة الموصدة

ملخص الرواية:

يصف لنا الراوي في البداية علاقته بفانشو صديق طفولته، ويروي تلقيه رسالة من زوجة فانشو الجميلة صوفي تطلب فيها لقائه، وعندما يلتقي بها يكتشف اختفاء فانشو منذ ستة أشهر، وفشل تحري يدعى كوين في العثور عليه، كما يكتشف وصية فانشو لصوفي بأن تعطي كتاباته لصديقه – راوينا الذي لا نعرف اسمه -، بحيث يقرر ما هو صالح منها للنشر، كما نعرف أن صوفي ولدت في غياب فانشو ابنا ً سمته بن، يخبرنا الراوي في استعادة للذاكرة حكايات من طفولته مع فانشو، كرمه الذي يجعله يتخلى عن هديته لصديقهما الفقير دنيس والدن، وهو ابن لأب سكير وأم مجنونة توصد على نفسها غرفتها، كما يخبرنا عن قصة التحري التي كتبها فانشو، تجربتهما الجنسية الأولى معا ً، انعزال فانشو في الثانوية، وتفكك أسرته بعد إصابة والده بالسرطان ووفاته في النهاية، ينشغل الراوي بعد هذا بترتيب أوراق فانشو تأهبا ً لنشرها، وتتوثق علاقته بصوفي، كما ينشر أول رواية لفانشو، وتصبح علاقته بصوفي أقوى، وتصله رسالة من فانشو، يطالبه فيها بالزواج من صوفي وتبني ابنه بن، ويحذره من تتبعه، يتزوج الراوي صوفي، ويبدأ بالتفكير في كتابة سيرة عن فانشو، والتي سرعان ما تتكشف أنها مجرد فكرة يختفي ورائها عزم على تتبع فانشو والوصول إليه، يبدأ الراوي بلقاء أم فانشو لتساعده في الكتابة عن ابنها، ولكنهما يمارسان الجنس في النهاية، ثم يستحوذ البحث عن فانشو على الراوي ويؤدي هذا إلى توتر علاقته بصوفي، وظهور نزعة في داخله إلى قتل فانشو والقضاء عليه، يقوم الراوي بمراجعة رسائل فانشو إلى أخته إيلين علها تدله عليه، حيث يكتشف انعزال فانشو في مزرعة في فرنسا لمدة عام كامل، يبحث الراوي بعد هذا عن التحري كوين، ثم يسافر إلى باريس لاستكمال تحرياته، وهناك يلتقي بآن صديقة فانشو التي تخبره أول ما يلتقيان بأنها ظنته في البداية فانشو، يعاني الراوي في هذه الفترة من نوع من فقدان الزمن، ويخبرنا بطريقة غريبة ولحظة عجيبة أن النهاية هي التي جعلته يكتب هذا الكتاب، وأن (مدينة الزجاج) و(الأشباح) هي القصة نفسها، يذهب الراوي بعد هذا إلى بار وهناك يلتقي بشاب أمريكي يخاطبه على أنه فانشو ولكن الشاب يخبره أنه بيتر ستيلمان، وبعد مطاردة يعتدي ستيلمان على الراوي ويضربه بقوة، يعود الراوي إلى نيويورك، وينفصل عن صوفي لعام ومن ثم يعودان إلى بعضهما ويرزقان بطفل يسميانه بول، وفي سنة 1982 م تأتي الراوي رسالة من فانشو يدعوه فيها إلى زيارته في بوسطن، فيذهب إلى هناك ويدخل بناية متداعية حيث يجد فانشو مختفيا ً في غرفة مؤصدة، وقد مر عليه عامين هناك، ويخبره أن كوين كان يطارده وأنه وجده مرتين، إحداهما في نيويورك والأخرى في الجنوب، ويخبره أنه كان يتنقل تحت اسم هنري دارك، ثم يطلب منه أن يأخذ كراسة حمراء، فيأخذها الراوي ويخرج ويقوم بتمزيقها بعد قراءتها.

فانشو... الكتاب المفقود:

في سنة 1828 م نشر الروائي الأمريكي ناثانيل هاوثورن أول محاولة روائية له، كان قد كتب قبلها عددا ً من القصص الصغيرة، ولكن (فانشو) كانت روايته الأولى، ويبدو أنه كان متخوفا ً جدا ً من التجربة، فلذا قام بنشرها مغفلة اسم المؤلف، الرواية فشلت نقديا ً وتجاريا ً ولم يلتفت لها أحد، ولم تبع إلا نسخا ً محدودة، فلذا قام هاوثورن بإطعام النار بقية النسخ غير المباعة، وصارت الرواية في حكم المفقودة، في ظل اختفاء النسخ القليلة التي بيعت والتي دمر بعضها في ظروف مختلفة، احتفظ هاوثورن لنفسه بسر هذا الكتاب الموءود، حتى أن زوجته صوفيا لم تدري بهذه الرواية التي كتبها زوجها قبل زواجهما بسنوات طويلة، توفي هاوثورن سنة 1864 م بعدما نشر عددا ً من الروايات والقصص القصيرة، وبعد وفاته بأعوام عثر على نسخة من الكتاب وأعيد طبعه من جديد.

هذا هو الكتاب الذي تدور حوله هذه الرواية، أما الفكرة فهي رفض الكاتب لأعماله ومحاولته القضاء عليها، فكما رأينا كان فانشو كتابا ً مرفوضا ً رفضه صاحبه، وحاول القضاء عليه، ولكنه عاش أطول من صاحبه وعاد للظهور بعد موته، في عالم أوستر يتحول فانشو الكتاب إلى كاتب يرفض أعماله، ويتخلى عنها، بل يتخلى عن زوجته وابنه، ويدخل حالة من الهروب الدائم، والعزلة الغريبة.

لا صدفة:

يبدو أن أوستر تخلى عن شغفه بالصدفة في هذه الرواية، فهي بلا مصادفات من أي نوع.

الأحداث الغربية والرموز:

الغرابة في الرواية تبدو لنا بعد قراءة الروايتين السابقتين أقل، وكأننا صرنا نتقبل كل ما يمكن أن يحدث، فتخلي فانشو عن زوجته وابنه وأعماله وانعزاله، رأيناها في رواية الأشباح، في عزلة الكاتب وشبحيته، هوس الراوي بتتبع صديقه فانشو، رأيناه في هوس كوين وكذا هوس السيد بلو، حالة فقدان الذاكرة أو لنقل الوجود التي يدخل إليها الراوي رأينا شبيها ً لها في حالة كوين، بل حتى ظهور ستيلمان وكوين في هذه الرواية تبدو لنا وكأنها من طرائف أوستر، وليس لها ذلك التأثير الكبير، وكذا اسم هنري دارك، وبالطبع ظهرت رموز أوستر العتيدة، الكراسة الحمراء، والقمر – ص 480 -.
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April 4, 2021


The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster - three captivating postmodern novels published back in the mid-1980s. Here's my write-up of each individually:

CITY OF GLASS - Book 1
City of Glass reads like Raymond Chandler on Derrida, that is, a hard-boiled detective novel seasoned with a healthy dose of postmodernist themes, a novel about main character Daniel Quinn as he walks the streets of uptown New York City.

I found the story and writing as compelling as Chandler's The Big Sleep or Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and as thought-provoking as reading an essay by Foucault or Barthes. By way of example, here are three quotes from the novel coupled with key concepts from the postmodern tradition along with my brief commentary.

On the first pages of the novel, the narrator conveys mystery writer Quinn's reflections on William Wilson, his literary pseudonym and Max Work, the detective in his novels. We read, "Over the years, Work had become very close to Quinn. Whereas William Wilson remained an abstract figure for him Work had increasingly come to life. In the triad of selves that Quinn had become, Wilson served as a kind of ventriloquist, Quinn himself was the dummy, and Work was the animated voice that gave purpose to the enterprise." ---------- Michel Foucault completely rejected the idea that a person has one fixed inner self or essence serving them as their individual personal identity. Rather, he saw personal identity as defined by a process of on-going, ever changing dialogue with oneself and others. ---------- And Quinn's interior dialogue with Work and Wilson is just the beginning. As the novels progresses, Quinn takes on a number of other identities.

In his role as hired detective (quite an ironic role since Quinn is a fiction writer and has zero experience as a detective), he goes to Grand Central Station to locate a man by the name of Peter Stillman, the man he will have to tail. This is what we read after Quinn spots his man, "At that moment Quinn allowed himself a glance to Stillman's right, surveying the rest of the crowd to make doubly sure he made no mistakes. What happened then defined explanation. Directly behind Stillman, heaving into view just inches behind his right shoulder, another man stopped . . . His face was the exact twin of Stillman's." ---------- The double, the original and the copy, occupies the postmodernists on a number of levels, including a double reading of any work of literature. Much technical language is employed, but the general idea is we should read a work of fiction the first time through in the conventional, traditional way, enjoying the characters and the story.

Our second reading should be more critical than the first reading we constructed; to be good postmodernists, we should `deconstruct' the text to observe and critically evaluate such things as cultural and social biases and underlying philosophic assumptions. And such a second reading should not only be applied to works of literature but to all our encounters with facets of contemporary mass-duplicated society.

"As for Quinn, it is impossible for me to say where he is now. I have followed the red notebook as closely as I could, and any inaccuracies in the story should be blamed on me." ---------- One key postmodern idea is that a book isn't so much about the world as it is about joining the conversation with other books. ---------- Turns out, the entire story here is a construction/deconstruction/reconstruction of a book: Quinn's red notebook. Life and literature living at the intersection of an ongoing conversation - Quinn's red notebook contains references to many, many other books, including Diary of Marco Polo, Robinson Caruso, Holy Bible, Don Quixote, Baudelaire. And the story the narrator relates from Quinn's red notebook is City of Glass by Paul Auster. Again, Raymond Chandler on Derrida.

One final observation. Although no details are given, Quinn tells us right at the outset he has lost his wife and son. Quinn's tragedy coats every page like a kind of film. No matter what form a story takes, modern or postmodern or anything else, tragedy is tragedy and if we empathize with Quinn at all, we feel his pain. Some things never change.

GHOSTS - Book 2
Ghosts (1983) reads like the square root of a hard-boiled detective noir novel, an off-the-wall, bizarre mystery where there is no crime and the whodunit is replaced by a meditation on the nature of identity. Here are the opening few line: "First of all there is Blue. Later there is White, and then there is Black, and before the beginning there is Brown. Brown broke him in, Brown taught him the ropes, and when Brown grew old, Blue took over." Blue is a detective and it is Blue we follow on every page of this sparse (less than 100 pages) novel set in 1947 New York City.

To gain an initial feel for the novel, please go to Youtube and watch a snippet of one of those 1940s black-and-white noir films, like The Naked City. You will see lots of hard-talking tough guys in gray suits and gray hats running around city streets socking one another in the jaw and plugging one another with bullets -- plenty of action to be sure. And that's exactly the point - a world chock-full of police, detectives, crooks and dames is a world of action.

But what happens when one of those 1940s detectives is put on a case where all action is stripped away, when the only thing the detective has to do is look out his apartment window and keep an eye on a man across the street in another apartment sitting at his desk reading or writing? This is exactly what happens in Ghosts. So, rather than providing a more detailed synopsis of the story (actually, there is some action and interaction), I will cite several of Blue's musing along with my brief comments on Blue's relationship to literary and artistic creation:

"Until now, Blue has not had much chance for sitting still, and this new idleness has left him at something of a loss. For the first time in his life, he finds that he has been thrown back on himself, with nothing to grab hold of, nothing to distinguish one moment from the next. He has never given much through to the world inside him, and through he always knew it was there, it has remained an unknown quantity, unexplored and therefore dark, even to himself." --------- So, for the first time in his life, Blue is given a taste of silence and solitude, the prime experience of someone who is a writer.

"More than just helping to pass the time, he discovers that making up stories can be a pleasure in itself." ---------- Removed from the world of action and building on his experience of silence and solitude, Blue is also given a hint of what it might mean to be a fiction writer, one who sits in isolation, exploring the inner world of imagination in order to create stories. And, on the topic of stories, the unnamed narrator conveys how Blue reflects on many stories, including the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, stories from the lives of Walk Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, and several stories Blue reads in his all-time favorite magazine: True Detective. Auster's short novel is teeming with stories.

"For the first time in his experience of writing reports, he discovers that words do not necessarily work, that it is possible for them to obscure the things they are trying to say." ---------- Blue discerns it is possible that words cannot adequately articulate the depth and full range of human experience. And what is true of a detective's report is truer for works of great literature: there is a rich, vital, vibrant world of feeling and imagination beyond the confines of words and language.

"Finally mustering the courage to act, Blue reaches into his bag of disguises and casts about for a new identity. After dismissing several possibilities, he settles on an old man who used to beg on the corner of his neighborhood when he was a bog - a local character by the name of Jimmy Rose - and decks himself out in the garb of tramphood . . ." ---------- During the course of the novel, Blue take on a number of different identities and with each new persona he experiences life with a kind of immediacy and intensity. Spending a measure of his creative life as a screenwriter and director, Paul Auster undoubtedly had many encounters with actors thriving on their roles, energized and invigorated as they performed for the camera. I suspect Auster enjoyed placing his detective main character in the role of actor at various points.

Ghosts can be read as a prompt to question how identity is molded by literature and the arts. How dependent are we on stories for an understanding of who we are? In what ways do the arts influence and expand our sense of self? Do we escape purposelessness and boredom by participating in the imaginative worlds of art and literature?

THE LOCKED ROOM - Book 3
“It seems to me now that Fanshawe was always there. He is the place where everything begins for me, and without him I would hardly know who I am.” So begins The Locked Room.

We encounter the narrator, a writer by profession, navigating the choppy waters of passion and commitment, forever brooding on an entire range of topics: life and death, self and other, childhood and memory, friendship and fatherhood, love and hate, reading and writing, self-definition and self-identity.

In a strange, offbeat way, all the philosophic reflections and ruminations give Auster’s short novel an irresistible drive. Fanshawe was a writer, leaving boxes of novels, journals, poetry and plays to be read and judged. Fanshawe also leaves his beautiful wife, Sophie, and his baby boy. Sophie contacts the narrator, who was Fanshawe’s dearest friend, to do the reading and judging. To tell more than these few facts would be to tell too much. Let me simply say that once I started reading The Locked Room, I couldn’t put it down.


American author Paul Auster, born 1947
Profile Image for Edward.
419 reviews398 followers
September 6, 2019
I'm surprised by some of the low and middling ratings this book and its three stories (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room) have received. Some characterise the stories as boring, derivative, simplistic, pretentious, or pointless. But for me, this is exactly the kind of book I love to stumble upon: one that surprises, and that seeks new and unconventional paths to expression. To me the writing suggests Calvino, Kafka, Borges, perhaps even Beckett and Sartre, without being derivative. This is not to say that The New York Trilogy stands beside Beckett’s trilogy in terms of literary achievement - indeed much of the ground it treads has already been broken - but I believe that novels should be judged on their own merits, on the basis their own peculiar mix of intentions, constraints and products, without necessarily having to justify their existence by comparison to other works. I think this novel stands as an exceptional work in its own right.

The New York Trilogy consists of three stories, which are distinct from each other but interact in direct and indirect, linear and nonlinear ways. There is a lot of thematic overlap between the stories, and even a fair amount of repetition. Each story could be thought of as a parallel retelling of the same story, or perhaps an examination of the same set of questions from a related viewpoint.

At the core of the stories is a questioning of identity. What does it mean to exist as an individual, separate from others? What does it mean to be oneself and not someone else? What, if anything, can it mean to live a meaningful life? There is an examination of the limitations of literature and the written record. The novel compares accounts of real and fictitious lives, and demonstrates more similarity than difference between the two, revealing a reflective quality to what is real and not real, a determination based more on perception than objective truth. It's an interesting perspective.

The stories develop so as to always avoid the next logical narrative step. There is a subversion of purpose, of cause and effect, and loss of natural sequence (which I expect is a cause of frustration for some readers). Yet in this absence of narrative logic, these stories latch on to something else, a more intuitive and direct kind of logic. I would characterise them less as coherent narratives than as meditations. The experience is one of detached observation and interpretation, like allowing one's thoughts to arise and pass, or dropping a pebble into a pond and watching the ways the ripples distort the reflection. The prose is direct and unspectacular, which supports this kind of reading, as do the dark and ambiguous thematic implications; the lack of resolution or redemption.

I was surprised by this novel - it was not at all what I had expected - and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. At the very least it inspired me to finally pick up a copy of Don Quixote and add it to my reading list.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
860 reviews2,182 followers
October 13, 2017
Consummate Metafiction

If you’re interested in reading just one example of metafiction, I can’t think of any better work than "The New York Trilogy" (except perhaps Thomas Pynchon’s "The Crying of Lot 49").

Paul Auster mightn’t get the same accolades as other writers of post-modern fiction, if only because he has built a loyal readership that doesn’t depend on post-modern academics and spin merchants:

"This recognition by a non-academic community may account for the lack of critical attention given to The New York Trilogy." ("Paul Auster: Bloom's Modern Critical Views")

Paul Auster’s fiction is innovative without making ostentatious claims to either inordinate length or gratuitous experimentalism. In fact, he seems to regard experiment as a mere transitional step on the way to perfection:

"I never experiment with anything in my books. Experimentation means you don't know what you're doing."

"When you become aware of what your limits have been so far, then you’re able to expand them. And every artist has limits. No one can do everything. It’s impossible. What’s beautiful about art is that it circumscribes a space, a physical and mental space. If you try to put the entire world into every page, you turn out chaos. Art is about eliminating almost everything in order to focus on the thing that you need to talk about."

A Sense of Plenitude and Economy

By these standards, the Trilogy is both beautiful and highly structured. At 314 pages, it’s totally focussed (it’s quite the opposite of chaotic maximalism or excessivism), yet, like the detective fiction or mysteries adored by the character Daniel Quinn, what appeals so much is its "sense of plenitude and economy":

"In the good mystery there is nothing wasted, no sentence, no word that is not significant...The world of the book comes to life, seething with possibilities, with secrets and contradictions."

An Organic Part of the Written Word

The Trilogy is also a highly philosophical work. However, unlike most post-modern fiction, the philosophy is tightly wound into the structure or narrative of the novel. The philosophy is almost inseparable from the fiction itself. It’s no mere gratuitous insertion designed to contribute to either length or literary pretension. In other words, it’s both relevant and essential to the fiction:

"Over the years, I’ve been intensely interested in the artificiality of books as well. I mean, who’s kidding whom, after all. We know when we open up a book of fiction that we’re reading something that is imaginary, and I’ve always been interested in exploiting that fact, using it, making it part of the work itself. Not in some dry, academic, metafictional way, but simply as an organic part of the written word."

The Triple Meaning of the Private Eye

This applies equally to the manner in which Auster co-opts elements of detective fiction to pursue his goals. In contrast to Robert Coover, he doesn’t just exploit genre conventions to house a story or myth he has invented.

Auster sees detective fiction as related to the role of both the author and the reader. In the words of Quinn:

"The detective is the one who looks, who listens, who moves through this morass of objects and events in search of thought, the idea that will pull all these things together and make sense of them. In effect, the writer and the detective are interchangeable. The reader sees the world through the detective’s eye, experiencing the proliferation of its details as if for the first time. He has become awake to the things around him, as if they might speak to him, as if, because of the attentiveness he now brings to them, they might begin to carry a meaning other than the simple fact of their existence. Private eye. The word held a triple meaning for Quinn. Not only was it the letter ‘i’, standing for ‘investigator’, it was ‘I’ in the upper case, the tiny life-bud buried in the body of the breathing self. At the same time, it was also the physical eye of the writer, the eye of the man who looks out from himself into the world and demands that the world reveal itself to him. For five years now, Quinn had been living in the grip of this pun."

Each of the three novellas is a mirror image of a private eye novel (not to mention the works of Cervantes, Sterne, Poe and Hawthorne), only, this being Paul Auster, there is a "deft little twist" or reversal in the image. It can’t be and isn’t a perfect analogue of the real object. In the first story, the private eye is a crime writer who pretends to be the fictive detective Paul Auster, in order to accept an assignment. In the third story, a writer very much like the real Paul Auster becomes the literary executor of another writer who has disappeared, so the writer sets out to discover his whereabouts and for a while to write his biography. In the second novella, the real detective, Blue, progressively takes on the role of an author during the process of speculating about the reports he’s required to write for his client, White.

The Perils of Invention and Make-Believe

A detective (particularly in the police force) is a vital part of a legal process that aims to successfully prosecute the perpetrator of a crime. Thus, they must be concerned with the collection of facts that can be used to prove guilt. Paradoxically, fiction is a work of the imagination that does its best to appear real. It strives for verisimilitude and credibility:

"Since this story is based entirely on facts, the author feels it his duty not to overstep the bounds of the verifiable, to resist at all costs the perils of invention."

This statement is part of an almost Nabokovian game, because we readers know and understand that the whole novel is make-believe.

Auster builds his metaphysics on the foundation of facts and empiricism, before embracing the challenge of metafiction.

Speculating on the Other

The author, the reader and the private eye alike take it upon themselves to peer into the world of the other:

"If thinking is perhaps too strong a word at this point, a slightly more modest term - speculation, for example - would not be far from the mark. To speculate, from the Latin speculatus, meaning mirror or looking glass. For in spying out at Black across the street, it is as though Blue were looking into a mirror, and instead of merely watching another, he finds that he is also watching himself."

Fiction is therefore a reflective process.

Blue has previously thought of his own inner life in terms of darkness. Yet his pursuit of Black (no matter how confusing) has allowed him to channel some reflected light on his own self. Nevertheless, Blue gets caught up in the persona of an other (namely Black).

Observed by Another

So we have a scene in which Black is reading a book, and Blue is watching Black reading it. Inevitably, Blue speculates:

"It seems perfectly plausible to him that he is also being watched, observed by another in the same way he has been observing Black."

This other other might be another character in the fiction, or it might be us the readers (who begin and end outside the realm of fiction).

Fiction entangles and ensnares the reader in a hall of mirrors, in which everybody is both watcher and watched:

"They have trapped Blue into doing nothing, into being so inactive as to reduce his life to almost no life at all. He feels like a man who has been condemned to sit in a room and go on reading a book for the rest of his life."

The Severity of Inwardness and Solitude

Auster also approaches this dilemma from the perspective of the author, who turns their back on the real world in order to create a fictional world. A writer must learn to live with "the severity of his inwardness" and the consequences of his isolation. Perhaps the author doesn’t really exist outside the work of fiction, in that they vanish and become someone else when they’re not writing. They might also die when their writing is done:

"What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook?"

In the third novella, the author Fanshawe disappears, leaving behind a beautiful wife and child (Daniel), allowing his childhood friend (also a budding author) to take his place as loving husband and attentive father.

Traditionally, detective fiction has reinforced the reader’s confidence in the power of logical analysis to solve a crime or understand the world (including the world within the book). Here, Auster uses the genre to create a work of fiction that questions the ability of logic and language to convey and understand the outside world and the other, not to mention oneself.

The Trilogy is a book that constantly stimulated me while I was reading it, and already beckons me toward a re-reading.

description

An image from the graphic novel "City of Glass" by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli

SOUNDTRACK:


Virginia Stillman and the Two Misses Fanshawe
[An Homage]


Let me tell you a little about myself, so I can then move on and start this story at the beginning.

When I first moved to Manhattan in 1985, I gravitated to Chelsea. This was a natural consequence of the fact that I had stayed in the Chelsea Hotel for two weeks in 1982 and had got familiar with the area.

I found a small apartment in a three-storey brownstone walk-up that didn’t eat up too much of my savings. I sub-let it from Mrs. Jane Fanshawe, an attractive widow in her early 50’s, who lived in the building. Her daughter-in-law, Sophie Fanshawe, lived in her own apartment on the same floor as me. Her husband, Jane’s son, was a writer who had recently disappeared and was believed to have died. The only other tenant in the building was a woman in her late twenties called Virginia Stillman.

Sophie had originally lived in my apartment, but moved to a larger one, when it became available, which left a vacancy that I agreed to fill.

One night, soon after I moved in, I was just about to go to bed, when the phone rang. The person on the other end of the line asked, “Paul Auster?” The name wasn’t familiar to me. I responded, “No, Marvin Graye.”

This happened a further three nights in a row, until finally I surrendered and said, “Yes.”

“Good, Paul. The board has approved your fee. It wants you to keep the man across the road under surveillance. You will receive a weekly payment of $350, upon submission of a weekly report. Do you have a pen?”

I did, and then wrote down the P.O. box number he gave me.

Despite the late hour, I opened the curtain in my lounge, and used my new binoculars to spot the dark-haired man in the apartment on the third floor of the house across the road. He was sitting at a desk illuminated by an old anglepoise lamp. Unlike the previous nights I had seen him, he wasn’t writing in a red notebook. He was reading a book. When he turned the page, I could just make out that it was “Don Quixote”.

My job was to document the man’s activities each week. For the first week, there was nothing much to report. I haven’t read it since school, but “Don Quixote” is a pretty long book. Besides, he didn’t seem to be reading it from cover to cover. He jumped around within the book, as if he was trying to find a particular passage or was trying to check something he had remembered.

During the week, he received no visitors, nor, as far as I could tell, any phone calls. However, about 8pm on Friday night, there was a knock on the door, and an attractive woman I recognised as Virginia Stillman walked in, holding a bottle of champagne. When she handed it to him, he went to kiss her on the cheek. She moved her head, so that their lips collided in what seemed to start a passionate kiss. She nudged him towards the couch, where he spread out full-length on his back. Meanwhile, she walked over to the window and drew the curtains. I have no other verifiable facts about what happened this evening.

The next Friday, when it was still light, I was surprised to see Sophie Fanshawe visit the man, who by now I inferred was a writer, despite how little writing he seemed to be doing, even compared with the amount entailed in the reports I had committed to.

If Virginia Stillman had appeared to be forward, Sophie was even more enthusiastic. She walked into the bedroom, turned on a bedside light and started to remove her blouse. Then she looked out the window, through which it was quite possible that she could see me and my binoculars. She didn’t seem overly alarmed, although she walked over and closed the bedroom curtains.

Sophie arrived at the writer’s apartment each night until the following Thursday, when she seemed to have an argument with him. Nobody drew the curtains this time, because Sophie left the apartment and slammed the front door, leaving the writer to resume his reading.

I took this opportunity to go downstairs in the hope that I would cross paths with Sophie and see what condition she was in. I caught her just as she was entering our building. Although we hadn’t spoken much up to that point, I said I was going out for a drink at the local bar and asked if she was interested. She smiled courteously and replied that she would like to have, but she had to settle some business or other with her mother-in-law.

The following night, Friday, I was surprised to see Mrs. Fanshawe (Jane) enter the writer’s apartment with a bottle of wine and what appeared to be a book wrapped in brown paper.

The writer had set the dining table for a meal for two. He brought out a salad bowl, placed it on the table and opened the wine. It was a white, and Mrs Fanshawe seemed to drink it more voraciously than the writer, as if it was her favourite or something. As they consumed the salad, I could see that Mrs Fanshawe had placed her hand on the writer’s leg, and he had taken no steps to object, which was understandable from my point of view. Pretty soon, they too moved to the couch and drew the curtains, so that I was unable to witness what happened next, though I could and did imagine.

By this time, I had written two reports and received two payments, which I banked in my account. The cheques were drawn by a well-known publishing company. I noticed that the writer had changed his reading matter. He had received some mail, and was now busy apparently transcribing what he had read into his red notebook. A year later, when I met him at a party hosted by Mrs Fanshawe, he gave me a copy of his latest novel. I had never met a novelist before, so I devoured the book quickly, stopping only to note the resemblance of some parts to the reports I had written. But then I suppose it was his life after all (if not his fiction as well).
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,301 followers
Read
June 19, 2012
Further update, June 19th 2012.

In response to several thoughtful comments that take issue with the nastiness of my initial review, I have come to the conclusion that the comments in question are essentially correct. Please see my own response in comment #32 in the discussion. And thanks to those who called me on this, apologies for my earlier vitriolic responses. In general, I try to acknowledge the validity of other opinions in my reviews and comments, something I notably failed to do in this discussion. I should have been more civil, initially and subsequently.


Update:

WELL, CONGRATULATIONS, PAUL AUSTER!!

I wouldn't actually have thought it possible, but with the breathtakingly sophomoric intellectual pretension of the final 30 pages of "City of Glass", you have actually managed to deepen my contempt and loathing for you, and the overweening, solipsistic, drivel that apparently passes for writing in your particular omphaloskeptic corner of the pseudo-intellectual forest in which you live, churning out your mentally masturbatory little turdlets.

Gaaaah. Upon finishing the piece of smirkingly self-referential garbage that was "City of Glass", I wanted to jump in a showever and scrub away the stinking detritus of your self-congratulatory, hypercerebral, pomo, what a clever-boy-am-I, pseudo-intellectual rubbish from my mind. But not all the perfumes of Araby would be sufficient - they don't make brain bleach strong enough to cleanse the mind of your particular kind of preening, navel-gazing idiocy.

All I can do is issue a clarion call to others who might be sucked into your idiotic, time-wasting, superficially clever fictinal voyages to nowhere. There is emphatically no there there. The intellectual vacuum at the core of Auster's fictions is finally nothing more than that - empty of content, devoid of meaning, surrounded with enough of the pomo trappings to keep the unwary reader distracted. But, if you're looking for meaning in your fiction, for God's sake look elsewhere.

And, please - spare me your pseudoprofound epiphanies of the sort that the emptiness at the core of Auster's tales is emblematic of the kind of emptiness that's at the core of modern life. Because that brand of idiocy butters no parsnips with me - I got over that kind of nonsense as a freshman in college. At this point in my life I expect a little more from anyone who aspires to be considered a writer worth taking seriously.

Which Paul Auster, though I have no doubt that he takes himself very, very seriously indeed, is not. This little emperor of Brooklyn is stark naked, intellectually speaking.

The only consolation is that I spent less than $5 for this latest instalment of Austercrap.

Gaaaah. PASS THE BRAINBLEACH.


Earlier comment begins below:

My loathing for the only other of Paul Auster's books that I had read (the Music of Chance) was so deep that it's taken me over ten years before I can bring myself to give him another chance. But finally, today, after almost three weeks of reading only short pieces in Spanish, my craving for fiction in English was irresistible, so I picked up a second-hand copy of The New York Trilogy in the English-language bookstore here in Guanajuato.

So far so good. I'm about three-quarters through the first story of the trilogy and I'm enjoying it, without actually liking it, if that makes sense. Auster seems to owe a clear debt of influence to Mamet - there's the same predilection for games, puzzles, and the influence of chance. Thankfully, the influence doesn't extend to dialog, which Mamet has always seemed to me to wield clumsily, like a blunt instrument. Auster is more subtle, but he still holds his characters at such a remote distance, it gives his writing a cerebral quality that is offputting at times. Thus, one can enjoy the situations he sets up and the intricacies of the story, without quite liking his fiction.

Who knows, maybe I will feel differently after I've read all three stories?
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 22 books25.4k followers
June 4, 2015
رواية مجنونة، مثل شخص يلعب معك لعبة، باستثناء أن اللعبة هي كابوس. لم أقرأ شيئًا كهذا منذ زمنٍ طويل..
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
June 15, 2009
Life is too short to re-read a book, but someday I will give time for this one. The reason is that I assumed that the book being a trilogy is composed of 3 totally unrelated stories since I read in the write up that the stories were published one at a time in a weekly magazine in the 80s. However, to my surprise, at the end of the 3rd story – The Locked Room (which by itself was the best among the 3) – it was revealed that the detective looking for Fanshawe was the main character in the first story, The City of Glass. So, I had to think back on how the three stories relate to each other but I could not really figure out how the second – Ghosts – fit into the whole story as the main characters were named after colors – Blue, Black, Brown and White. I agree with what they say that Paul Auster contributed to American literature by having a totally different writing style – the mixed up identities, the infusion of psychological insights into the narratives (Don Quixote for example in the second story) and even witty practical advises to the reader (you have to slow down to appreciate literature – to which I am a bit guilty because I have been reading books one after the other). If you want to read a intelligent yet entertaining book, make it this one!
Profile Image for Nora Barnacle.
163 reviews99 followers
February 3, 2017
Na filmovima se često dešava da vispreni zlikovac, pošto ispuca sve kvarnjačke trikove, namami heroja u nekakvu sobu sa ogledalima, kako bi ga ošamutio sopstvenom (herojevom) sposobnošću zapažanja i napokon ga sebi skinuo s vrata. Tako se protagonista nađe u sasvim neprirodnom haosu: pošto je vizualno bombardovan svojim iskrivljenim odrazima, mora da prebaci oslonac na auditivna opažanja, te osluškuje tišinu, zaustavlja disanje, pažljivo hoda kroz srču, sve vreme kalkulišući koliko mu još municije ostalo u šaržeru, gde će i kad da opali. Tako mnogobrojni efekti napnu gledaoca do ivice stolice, ali se pravi uzrok dramatičnosti krije u, napokon, pravednoj situaciji: zlikovac je – obrni, okreni – u istom sosu kao junak, te će pobediti bolji. Tuče na ferku su visoko cenjene u svim krugovima, pa niko ne zamera što je to malo bajata fora.

Upravo to Pol Oster radi čitaocu Njujorške trilogije.

Najpre ću se malo čuditi nad nemalim brojem komentara da su ovo tri nezavisne priče među kojima je teško pronaći vezu. Smislenije bi mi bilo shvatanje da su ovo tri varijacije jedne teme i da je upravo zato Geopoetika angažovala troje dobrih prevodilaca (o Zoranu i Ivani Paunović se već sve zna, a i Zorana Spaić ih u stopu prati). U tom smislu, naravno da se većini najviše dopada poslednji deo celine u kome se sve raspliće, ako ovde ima mesta za priču o klasičnom raspletu.

Negde na polovini Njujorške trilogije piše da je primarni cilj svake knjige da zabavi čitaoca. Ako je to Oster hteo, u mom slučaju je potpunosti ispunio cilj: silno sam se zabavljala sve vreme, malo i na bis. A kako i ne bih, kad je unutra strpao sve i svašta: detektivske priče od vrste misterioznih, književne aluzije, svakovrsne anegdote i zabavne pričice (kako je Servantes sve hteo da nas zezne zamenom identiteta, kako je obdukciju Volta Vitmena radio jedan smotanko forenzičar, kako glavni projektant Bruklin bridža nikad nogom nije kročio na svoj most), maskiranja, malo Vavilonske kule, malo Pariza, mnogo Njujorka, mnogo ispisanih svezaka, pisaca, izdavača, seksa, dece i beba, poštanskih fahova, taštine, voajerske ostrašćenosti, zanesenjaštva, hazarderstva,...a između čitaoca i sveg tog zamešateljstva stoji neko ko igra kolariću – paniću sa likovima i imenima, dok je Pol Oster (imenom) epizodista koji obavlja neka svoja posla, pa se zbuni (kao i čitalac) kad čuje kakve se to stvari sve zbivaju na ovome svetu.

Dakle, šareni komadići ogledala u kojima je odraz fikcije, rasuti po stvarnosti i narativu, a ti, čitaoče, izvoli, pronađi gde šta pripada, lepo sve to zalepi i pogledaj veliku sliku. Kako ćeš rekonstruisati tu metafikciju i da li ćeš u njoj videti šta je (za Pola Ostera, ovog živog, pisca) pisanje, ili muku definisanja identiteta ili apsurdnost njegovog pronalaženja ili cenu slobode izbora ili sebe u ma kom svetlu ili ćeš naučiti da zabijanje nosa u tuđe stvari ne samo što nije pristojno, nego nije ni malo mudro... intimno je pitanje.

Nisam se baš načitala američke književnosti zato što mi kod većine tamošnjih pisaca ona pomenuta zabava uvek ostane samoj sebi svrha, što mi brzo dosadi, ali Oster ima malo evropejskog šlifa i finog francuskog glanca, pa je elemente visprenije ukrojio, štepovi mu se ne vide i tako postiže izvesni stepen elegancije (dok američka elegancija ostaje skoro pa oksimoron).

Nije Pol Oster kriv što je došao na red malo posle Havijera Marijasa, pa sad ne može i on da dobije peticu jer nema dovoljno ležernosti da padnem u nesvest. Da ne bude samo to, zameriću mu što insistira na izlizanom receptu da se do samoosvešćenja može doći samo preko mostića na smrt ugrožene egzistencije. Ne kažem da to nije put, možda čak jeste i najkraći, al' dobro više s tim.
Eto, summa cum laude, ali četvorka.
Profile Image for Sofia.
281 reviews92 followers
October 26, 2017
"Να νοιάζεσαι για τις λέξεις, να ποντάρεις σε ο, τι γράφεται, να πιστεύεις στη δύναμη των βιβλίων. Αυτό υπερβαίνει όλα τα υπόλοιπα και, πέρα από αυτό, η ζωή του ανθρώπου γίνεται πολύ μικρή."
Δηλώνω Οστερικη μετά απο αυτές τις 3 εξαιρετικές ιστορίες. Θα επανέλθω με περισσότερα σχόλια όταν αναρρώσω από το διαολεμένο συνάχι.
Profile Image for Yani.
414 reviews179 followers
July 2, 2019
Qué lectura tan amena, tan rápida (estoy sacando los días en que tuve que dejarlo por los estudios) y tan conflictiva. Estas tres novelas me parecieron más una forma de problematizar la identidad y la literatura antes que un homenaje a New York a través de la escritura. Si la ciudad puede considerarse como un espacio inquietante y en movimiento, entonces New York es un claro ejemplo. Y Paul Auster aprovecha esa vorágine para mostrar también cómo allí nadie es quien dice ser: las personas roban identidades ajenas, las absorben, las transforman, las viven. Haré un breve comentario sin spoilers de las tres novelas.

Ciudad de cristal (1985): un escritor de novelas policíacas que se apellida Quinn recibe un llamado por equivocación. El escritor usa seudónimo y, extrañamente, quien lo busca lo confunde con otro escritor. Acepta el caso ¿Le servirá su experiencia como creador de un detective? Eso, tal vez, es lo menos importante. Porque cuando Quinn empieza a trabajar en el caso, no hay nada que indique una normalidad en el asunto. Lo cierto es que esta novela atrapa por la forma en que ahoga al personaje en su propia red, en sus obsesiones y en el hecho de “creerse otro”. Muy, muy buena y con varias referencias literarias. Las primeras páginas son las mejores y revelan un estilo fluido y complicado a la vez.

Fantasmas (1986): esta es la más extraña de las tres, la más desconcertante. Eso no significa que sea mala, sino todo lo contrario: Auster parece redoblar el juego de las identidades y, para colmo, los personajes tienen nombres de colores. El estilo es parco, pero efectivo. También es de género policial y no termina como uno lo espera. La explicación esclarecedora que todos buscamos en el último capítulo de una novela del género no se sirve en bandeja y resulta extraño. No estoy contando el final. Simplemente, estoy señalando su particularidad. No sé si me gustó más que Ciudad de cristal, pero la amé (otra vez) porque toca la literatura como tema secundario, pero pone especial foco en el proceso de escritura.

La habitación cerrada (1986): creo que aquí hay un problema de usurpación de vida, más que nada. Una forma práctica y poco sutil del intercambio de identidad. A un hombre le piden que se encargue de los manuscritos de un escritor desaparecido. Todo lo que viene después sería mucho más emocionante si hubiera menos enredos con mujeres que no salen del interés amoroso y/o del interés sexual. El personaje principal me cansó con sus hormonas (y es un adulto, vale aclarar). La literatura vuelve a ocupar un plano importante, ya que las publicaciones y la escritura mueven las decisiones de un protagonista que desentierra el pasado casi para siempre. La novela está narrada en primera persona, pero el personaje que narra me desagrada.

A modo general, diría que Auster se siente muy cómodo con la escritura y la literatura en estas tres novelas, a tal punto que le sirvió para elaborar tres historias policiales y peculiares. Para algunos, quizás, se vuelva cansador. Creo que vale la pena darle una oportunidad y seguramente es el mejor lugar para comenzar a conocer a este autor. Al menos, a mí me funcionó. La trilogía de Nueva York, según mi parecer, apunta a un público lector de clásicos que no se asuste con los spoilers y que le siga la pisada a estos personajes cultos y perdidos en una ciudad que se paraliza con sus conflictos internos.

Reseña en Clásico desorden
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,688 followers
May 13, 2016
“The story is not in the words; it's in the struggle.”
― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy

description

REVIEW 1: City of Glass

An interesting PoMo novella. Auster's first novel/second book/first of his 'New York Trilogy', 'City of Glass' is simultaneously a detective novel, an exploration of the author/narrative dynamic, and a treatise on language. I liked parts, loved parts, and finished the book thinking the author had written something perhaps more interesting than important.

My favorite parts were the chapters where Auster (actual author Auster) through the narrator Quinn acting as the detective Auster explored Stillman's book: 'The Garden and the Tower: Early Visions of the New World'. I also enjoyed the chapter where Auster (character Auster) and Quinn (acting as detective Auster) explored Auster's (character Auster) Don Quixote ideas. Those chapters reminded me obliquely (everything in City of Glass is oblique) of Gaddis.

In the end, however, it all seemed like Auster had read Gaddis wanted to write a PoMo novel to reflect the confusing nature of the author/narrator/translator/editor role(s) of 'Don Quixote', set it all in Manhatten, and wanted to make the prose and story fit within the general framework of a detective novel. He pulled it off and it all kinda worked. I'll say more once I finish the next two of the 'New York Trilogy'.

REVIEW 2: Ghosts

An uncanny valley of Gaddis IMHO. 'Ghosts', the second book in Auster's 'New York Trilogy' reminds me what I both like and don't like about MFA writers. Often clever and grammatically precise but they don't say so much. If they were painters their perspective would be perfect and their posters would sell, but the pigment or texture or something between the edges is just missing that undercurrent of something to give a real shit about.


REVIEW 3: The Locked Room

Not much to add that I haven't already written in my reviews of Auster's first two 'New York Trilogy' novels. In 'The Locked Room' Auster dances with the same themes, with slightly different variations. The novellas are more brothers to each other instead of cousins. In a lot of ways he reminds me of an earlier generations' Dave Eggers. There is definitely a lot of talent latent in the guy. He certainly can write, but unlike Fitzgerald who was able to tell a similar themed story in his novels and still provide weight. I just didn't feel the gravity. It was like Camus couldn't really decide whether to kill the Arab, didn't know if he cared or not, so he just walked around and killed himself but made the Arab watch.

I don't know. That may not be right. I'll probably just delete this review anyway. Only Otis will read it and I've asked him to delete all my reviews he doesn't like anyway. How do I guarantee this? Well, I could talk about Otis. I could tell you that there are things about author Auster, unrelated to his books I just don't like (who lives in NY Anyway?). He is a bad behaving author (untrue). He keeps sending me his manuscripts and wants me to say nice things about his work (untrue). I don't know. Is Auster married? Maybe, I'll go and console his wife now.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews733 followers
March 4, 2016
There are books where you say to yourself "it just don't get better than this," and The New York Trilogy is one of those. Trying to explain is futile -- this one you have to read for yourself. Even if you don't make it past City of Glass, you will find some of the best thought, best brain-expanding reading, and the best postmodern writing of an author who examines identity, narrative, language and who truly plays with reader expectations. But do read the entire book - it is beyond excellent. Recommended especially for Borges fans.
Profile Image for Grazia.
389 reviews155 followers
August 9, 2017
La trilogia di New York si compone di tre racconti: "La città di vetro", "Fantasmi" e "La stanza chiusa".

Son definite detective-stories... Mah!!! Nei racconti sì ci sono dei detective... ma con le affinità di genere per me la finiamo lì...
Il detective indaga sì, ma all'interno, nella stanza privata che è il suo cervello, alla ricerca di un senso della vita dell'uomo che non riesce a trovare.

Il detective chi è? E' lo scrittore? E' il lettore? Tale indagine ha un senso? In una ciclica rincorsa alla reciproca necessità di impersonificazione tra lettore e scrittore, la risposta che dà Auster è che un senso non c'è, che ogni vita è inspiegabile, fatta di fatti accidentali e fine a se stessa ("la morale è che ogni vita è fine a se stessa. Che è come dire: le vite degli uomini non hanno senso"). Nessuno è in grado di comprendere il prossimo (nemmeno lo scrittore che, scrivendo, tenta di indagarlo), in quanto rimane esso stesso imperscrutabile a se stesso.

I tre racconti, si comprende avanzando nella lettura, altro non sono che una storia sola, ma ad un diverso stadio di consapevolezza dell'autore (e di conseguenza del lettore che lo segue). Quindi, il lettore, arrivato alla terza lettura si è talmente scervellato per capire dove volesse andare a parare quest'uomo (Auster), che la terza storia non porta alcuna sorpresa, anzi forse è pure un po' troppo convenzionale con tutta la "palestra mentale" che ha fatto con i primi due racconti... :D

Ergo, di giallo a mio giudizio c'è poco poco, ma, in compenso, il "pipponico" e il cervellotico son dispensati a pienissime mani: in estrema sintesi definirei il romanzo un non racconto (uno e trino), in un non luogo, di non persone.
Di seguito i pensieri che mi hanno indotto i racconti da cui ho dedotto le riflessioni più sopra riportate.

"Città di vetro" --> Il significato preponderante del racconto, a mio parere, sta nel gioco di specchi che è la finzione narrativa, nella necessità dello scrittore di impersonificare i personaggi di cui scrive, o almeno il ruolo del personaggio di cui scrive. La risoluzione è la follia in cui cade lo scrittore che ad un certo punto è impossibilitato a distinguere tra finzione e realtà. Che crede di coglierla attraverso gli appunti che prende in un taccuino rosso, ma il taccuino rosso contiene, fatalmente, solo un pezzo della storia.
("Che significa per uno scrittore firmare un libro con il proprio nome? perchè alcuni decidono di nascondersi dietro ad uno pseudonimo? e, in tutti i casi, uno scrittore vive davvero una vita reale?")

"Fantasmi"--> Blue investigatore, sotto commissione di White, assume l'incarico di pedinare Black. Black non fa altro che scrivere una storia, e sembra vivere (o avere scopo di vita) solo per il fatto che qualcuno lo osserva. Ma l'unico scopo di Blue è osservare Black...Ma forse anche Black osserva Blue... Non succede nulla se non l'osservazione reciproca di Black e Blue. E alla fine il lettore capisce...che sta leggendo la storia di Blue che osserva Black, che a sua volta osserva Blue, e questo è l'unico senso della storia... E qui emerge l'ironico e sottile sfottimento che Auster opera nei confronti del lettore, che legge per cercare un senso, ma l'unico senso che si trova è costruito a tavolino...
(".. cosa ci faceva là dentro? Scriveva storie. Tutto qua Scriveva e basta? Scrivere è un mestiere per solitari. Ti prosciuga. In un certo senso, lo scrittore non ha una vita propria. Anche quando lo hai di fronte non c'e' veramente. Un altro fantasma. ")

"La stanza chiusa" --> L'ultimo racconto rientra un po' più nei canoni di un racconto tradizionale. C'e' una trama appena piu' sviluppata, un racconto in cui c'e' pure un amore, c'è pure una presunto abbandono di un uomo della moglie, c'è pure un accenno di sviluppo amoroso, c'è una indagine, c'è sempre uno scrittore, c'è sempre un detective, c'è sempre una ricerca di identificazione tra chi insegue e chi è inseguito che porta a frustrazione per presa consapevolezza che la vita non ha senso.

Auster quindi si mette a tavolino e svela attraverso i tre racconti il raffinato processo intellettuale di costruzione in laboratorio della storia, sempre la stessa storia che si sviluppa man di mano nella testa dello scrittore. I primi due racconti pare contengano il messaggio e l'idea, mentre il terzo racconto li "veste", è il racconto vero e proprio abbellito di particolari (ovviamente mia interpretazione)

Auster talentuoso è talentuoso. Il romanzo così concepito e architettato per me ha del geniale. Il piacere che si trova in questa lettura non è nella lettura stessa ma nelle elucubrazioni che induce nel lettore, negli arrovellamenti che ti fa fare, nel compiacimento di esserti districato in mezzo alle matasse aggrovigliate e parecchio cerebrali.

In questo romanzo ho trovato Auster forse un po' troppo compiaciuto, un po' troppo costruito...ma il grande merito che gli riconosco è che, alla terza lettura di una sua opera, non ho ancora visto una ripetizione, nè nello stile, nè nel genere di romanzo. Muta. E' capace di mutare. E per farlo, per me, bisogna essere bravi.

Quattro stelle quindi ad Auster e al suo talento. Io, che ho il gusto del cervellotico durante la lettura mi son divertita, ma non è sicuramente un romanzo che consiglierei a cuor leggero.
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,343 followers
January 3, 2016
Our lives carry us along in ways we cannot control, and almost nothing stays with us. It dies when we do, and death is something that happens to us every day.
Qué gran libro. Mi primero de Auster y sin dudas no será el último. En ocasiones un poco pesado, en muchas otras se estanca, pero es innegable que esta obra es brillante. Personajes excelsamente desarrollados, vívidas descripciones y tramas desbordantes de locura y mentes extraviadas buscando un hogar.

Con una prosa soberbia, este autor me llevó de recorrido por tres historias sobre personas solitarias que están tan vacías que ya no sienten el peso de la vida. Tan huecas que sus identidades están desdibujadas por un juego de fragmentadas realidades. Y Auster, para experimentar un poco con esas almas perdidas, como un dios que todo lo puede, interrumpe la vacua cotidianidad de los protagonistas con hechos extraordinarios que terminarán por borrar cualquier residuo de identidad propia para reemplazarla con una nueva, que no podrán sostener.
Profile Image for Paula Koneazny.
306 reviews32 followers
April 20, 2009
City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986): Meta as in metafiction, also metaphysics and metaphor. This is fiction about fiction, writing about the writer. Who’s writing whom? Who’s the author and who’s the imagined character? Auster's characters aren’t “real” people (even when they are autobiographical) in the sense that you might invite one over for dinner, but are real in the sense that you might imagine yourself dissolving into fiction, or have the sense that the self is fiction.
These are stories that demand that the reader NOT check her brain at the door: disquieting, self-weary perhaps, not particularly plot-driven. They include elements of detective fiction, of mysteries and thrillers. Detective stories in the sense that characters follow one another around and spy on one another. Characters disappear and/or mirror one another: one “self” becomes the “other.” Everyone here is lost and almost no one is found. Who is trailing whom becomes undecidable or indecipherable. Characters disappear. We don’t know where they go and neither does the author.

Profile Image for Marcello S.
511 reviews210 followers
May 23, 2016
Aspettative.
Aspettative.
Aspettative.

Diciamolo subito: alla fine di nessuno dei tre racconti sono rimasto folgorato gridando “Wow!”. E, stando alle singole parti, probabilmente le quattro stelle sono generose.
Ma credo si possa guardare al tutto come a un’idea di narrativa e un modo di raccontare diversi, dove i simboli e le allegorie ci portano a livelli di coscienza nuovi e differenti.

Ogni storia è un labirinto di disagio e solitudine, un gioco di specchi in cui chi osserva è a sua volta spiato. Tre gialli non gialli col finale aperto.
Siamo dalle parti del metaromanzo: tutti scrivono, taccuini dovunque.
Ci ho trovato dentro Kafka e pure Calvino (soprattutto in “Fantasmi”).

La scrittura è notevole. Buona l’architettura anche se forse avrei preferito qualche collegamento in più tra le tre parti.
“La stanza chiusa”, forse il racconto più tradizionale, è per me il migliore del lotto.

Non consigliato a chi ha bisogno di certezze. [74/100]
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