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

(New York Trilogy #1-3)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  67,866 ratings  ·  3,547 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published February 5th 2004 by Faber and Faber (first published 1987)
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Huck Flynn Don't see any major similarities in style or content. Roth is a good writer and worth trying out - Portnoy's Complaint is good if you aren't a squeami…moreDon't see any major similarities in style or content. Roth is a good writer and worth trying out - Portnoy's Complaint is good if you aren't a squeamish prude - actually very funny, also enjoyed The Human Stain
Daniel - if you like NY Trilogy i can recommend About the Author by John Colapinto and The Horned Man by James Lasdun, or even more challenging tricks on the reader - Nabokov's Pale Fire or Charles Palliser's Unburied(less)
Ashley The book (The New York Trilogy) consists of three, loosely connected novellas (City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room), all of which are about 120…moreThe book (The New York Trilogy) consists of three, loosely connected novellas (City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room), all of which are about 120 pages.(less)

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Start your review of The New York Trilogy: City of Glass / Ghosts / The Locked Room
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 thi ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
219. 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
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 adm
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
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 w ...more
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....

Vit Babenco
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like a little mind messing
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
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 pig
Jeremy Quinn
Jul 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody.
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 e ...more
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 d
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Glenn Russell

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 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 Mal
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
K.D. Absolutely
May 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books - Modern Fiction
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 st ...more
“The story is not in the words; it's in the struggle.”
― Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy


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 chap
Paula Koneazny
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula Koneazny by: Margie Stein
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Rec ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't write anything about this novel. This isn't some predictable, pitiful attempt to make an opening. I literally can't write anything about it. I've been squeezing my mind over it since yesterday, but no.
Read it.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
At times The New York Trilogy strikes me as something like the movie Saw for intellectual types. People who enjoy Saw tell me that it "messes with your mind," when what they really like are the suspense and the gore. Readers who enjoy The New York Trilogy tell me that it "challenges your perception of reality" (the intellectual form of the above statement), when what they really like is all of the cleverness and the self-reflexive smartypants in-jokes. The plot and many of the images and devices ...more
I quite enjoyed this trilogy. Originally published as three separate volumes - City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986) are separate stories, though linked by events and characters.

City of Glass is about Daniel Quinn, a writer of mystery novels, which he publishes under a pseudonym. In the middle of the night Quinn receives a phone call. The caller asks for Paul Auster, of Auster Detective Agencies; though he rightly states that he's not Auster and hungs up, the call intrig
Lubinka Dimitrova
“But the present is no less dark than the past, and its mystery is equal to anything the future might hold. Such is the way of the world: one step at a time, one word and then the next.”

The elaborate setup, leading to the open ending finale, the utter ambiguity of the three stories, might have been frustrating in the hands of a lesser author. I really enjoyed Auster's beautiful prose. As a reader, you (vainly) try to grasp the meaning of this whole book, though, in Auster’s view (or at least in
Mattia Ravasi
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Video review

The Trilogy of Detective Novels That Are Really About Semiotics (New York, Not So Much)
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this was a problematic book, fraught with numerous problemats. For one thing I have a grievance with any book that expects the reader to slog halfway through it before any rewarding aspects begin to surface. I sympathize entirely with anyone who quits before getting to that point, since I very nearly did exactly that.

Also, I kept hearing that part I, "City of Glass", was the high point, and that afterward it went downhill. When I was halfway through
"Ghosts" (part II) I would have comple
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Words don't change, but books are always changing. Different things change constantly, people change, they find a book at the right time. And that book answers something,a need,a wish.

Paul Auster

In this novel, Paul auster deals with strolling, chaos, straying, and distressing the outer and inner spaces of modern urban life. And that urban life is full of change and man loses himself in these changes.

Common points of the story:
1. In all three stories the main character seeks to solve a riddle. A
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Dec 29, 2018 marked it as dollars-for-unearthing  ·  review of another edition
My first Auster. Read at the urging of McCaffery's 100.

Very pleased with it. Not blown out of the water nor struck by any particularly new paths for fiction. But nonetheless time well spent.

Will welcome more Auster in the future of course but don't anticipate myself getting carried away and immersed as I often enough do.

I'll describe briefly a reflection. Reading this I had the experience of not anticipating where the next sentence was headed so my eyes and attention remained where they should,
Auster's trilogy of stories are basically the same story with a different slant. Written in the guise of a detective story : man seeks man but is really seeking himself and the nature of his being? All very metaphysical/existential if you like that sort of thing, but highly readable. ...more
Ben Winch
For a work that starts so strongly, The New York Trilogy descends into banal gibberish remarkably quickly, and continues in this mode until its unsurprising, unenlightening denouement. Presumably the result of the young Auster having improvised his opening in a fever-dream, put it aside, and then felt constrained but uninspired to continue it at a later date, this opening section is a small marvel of verbal invention and imagination, and entirely worthy of the two other would-be masters that pos ...more
Steven Godin
My first experience of Paul Auster, and the reason I started reading a whole lot more. A singular vision of how to take a piece of mystery detective writing and completely turn it on it's head, that will reel you in and hold your attention throughout. Three stories in one, all linked, to the theme of identity, existence and the symbolic nature of what makes us tick. Auster uses his great knowledge of New York brilliantly. A puzzling, addictive and strangely suspenseful masterpiece from one of Am ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

In a few weeks I'm going to have the opportunity to read Paul Auster's surprise new novel, 4 3 2 1, which has already been gathering up tons of accolades from early reviewers; but I've never actually read any work by Auster before, so I thought I'd start with the very first thing he published, The New York
It is not because of “City of Glass” that I am continuing into the second book of this trilogy; it is because the second installments are contained between the same covers and I neglected to bring an alternate book to the office. It takes hard work to make detective stories dull and to suck the intrigue out of mystery; but Auster seems to know how it’s done. It seems like he had just finished grad school and was filled with the conviction that contriving a book around concepts masquerading as ch ...more
Arthur Graham
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Identity. Reality. Certain other mysteries perhaps best left unexamined.

Spooky shit...
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Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Ac ...more

Other books in the series

New York Trilogy (3 books)
  • City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, #1)
  • Ghosts (The New York Trilogy, #2)
  • The Locked Room (The New York Trilogy, #3)

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