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The Book of Illusions

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Six months after losing his wife and two young sons, Vermont Professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then one night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost film by silent comedian Hector Mann. His interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight back in 1929.

When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer’s mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico inviting him to meet Hector. Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.

288 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 2002

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About the author

Paul Auster

326 books10.6k 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 Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
October 12, 2021
The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster

The Book of Illusions is a novel by American writer Paul Auster, published in 2002. It was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2004.

Set in the late 1980s, the story is written from the perspective of David Zimmer, a university professor who, after losing his wife and children in a plane crash, falls into a routine of depression and isolation. After seeing one of the silent comedies of Hector Mann, an actor missing since the 1920s, he decides to occupy himself by watching all of Mann's films and writing a book about them.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در ماه نوامبر سال 2009میلادی

عنوان: کتاب اوهام؛ نویسنده: پل آستر (اوستر)؛ مترجم: امیر احمدی آریان؛ تهران، مروارید، چاپ دوم 1386؛ در 340ص؛ شابک9789648838268؛ چاپ چهارم 1391؛ چاپ پنجم 1395؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده امریکا - سده 20م

آثار «پل استر»، نمونه ی بارز ادبیات پست مدرن هستند، و «کتاب اوهام» را می‌توان یکی از پیروزمندترین آثار ایشان دانست؛ داستان این کتاب، از زبان یک پروفسور ادبیات تطبیقی، به نام «دیوید زیمر» بازگو می‌شود، که خانواده‌ اش را در رویداد فروافتادن هواپیما، از دست داده، و از آن پس دچار آشفتگی و افسردگی بسیاری شده است؛ راوی یکشب در حال تماشای تلویزیون، با صحنه‌ ای از یک فیلم کمدی کلاسیک، از یک کارگردان گمنام، به نام «هکتور مان» روبرو می‌شود؛ آن صحنه او را در اوج افسردگی، به خنده وامیدارد؛ و از همین جا مسیر زندگیش دیگر می‌شود...؛ «پل استر»، در این اثر، به دنیای دو فرد می‌پردازد، فرد دوم (هکتور مان) از دریچ یه روایت قهرمان نخست (دیوید زیمر) برای خوانشگر ترسیم می‌شود؛ نویسنده برای اینکه «هکتور مان» در لابلای دنیای «دیوید زیمر» برای خوانشگر گم نشود، دومین فصل کتاب را به دستنوشته‌ های «دیوید زیمر» درباره ی «هکتور مان» اختصاص می‌دهد

نقل نمونه ای از متن: (همه فکر می‌کردند مرده است. سال 1988میلادی که کتابم درباره‌ ی فیلم‌های هکتور مان منتشر شد، شصت سالی می‌شد که از او خبری نبود؛ جز تعدادی تاریخ‌نگار و طرف‌دار فیلم‌های قدیمی، آدم‌های کمی می‌دانستند او زمانی وجود داشته است؛ مضاعف یا هیچ، آخرین فیلم از سری دوازده‌ تایی فیلم‌های دوحلقه‌ ای او، در اواخر دوران سینمای صامت، در روز بیست و سوم ماه نوامبر سال 1928میلادی پخش شد؛ دو ماه بعد، بدون اینکه با هیچ‌یک از دوستان، یا اقوامش خداحافظی کند، بی آنکه نامه‌ ای بر جای بگذارد، یا کسی را از نقشه‌ اش آگاه کند، از خانه‌‌ ی اجاره‌ ای خویش در «نورت‌ ارنج‌ درایو» بیرون آمد و دیگر هرگز دیده نشد...)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 19/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,973 reviews1,983 followers
February 25, 2019
Rating: one furious, disgusted star of however many stars there are in a galaxy

I've never been fond of pompous writing, the kind that checks its look in the mirror of acclaim and piles on the self-satisfied smirking smugness that makes me want to torch all the MFA schools I can reach.

My review, which I've moved to my blog, says that and more. Apparently the hoi polloi slithering in from the Internet's more sanctimonious quarters don't agree with me, therefore I must be wrong.
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews736 followers
February 6, 2020
I have changed my mind about this book. The first pages were tough to read and I wasn't sure if I could make it to the end. But the story grew on me. This book has been on my shelves for a long time, the first Auster I bought. I just love Brooklyn Follies, was intrigued by Man in the Dark and Auggie Wren's Xmas story is great as well. The story line is intriguing: A man looses his wife and two children in a plane crash. In sorrow, he is fascinated by a silent movie actor, who disappeared from the face of the earth a long time ago, and writes a book about him. Then he receives a letter that the actor wants to see him... I guess you either like Auster or you don't. Paul Auster is not an easy read,always troubling in a way, but his style is beautiful, poetic and his stories always fascinating. 3.6 stars. Need to reread!
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
March 3, 2022
After having lost his wife and children in a plane crash, writer and teacher David Zimmer is on a path of self-destruction, drinking, behaving badly around people, rejecting any and all understanding and sympathy. But seeing a bit of silent film comedy on TV, he takes up the task of examining and writing a book about the work of one comedic genius from the 20’s. Soon after the book is published the wife of the supposedly dead film-maker contacts Zimmer to ask if he might like to meet the man himself.

Paul Auster - image from El Pais

There is much parallelism here, Zimmer with both Hector Mann, the ancient film-maker and Chateaubriand, the author of a lengthy autobiography that Zimmer is translating. In a way all three are dead. Zimmer and Mann had both attempted suicide. And a character in the book ultimately succeeds in such an attempt.

What is real and what is illusion? Hector had been in the business of illusion, then had to present an illusion of himself for most of his life. His film The Life of Martin Frost echoes the book’s theme of illusion. Sometimes an illusion can be a helpful thing, as when Zimmer is comforted by Alma on the plane (see below).There is a passage in which Mann spots what he believes to be a blue stone on the street. He has a detailed plan of what he will do with it, alive with human connection, only to find that it is a gob of spit. Yet the imagining was enough to alter his life course. Maybe illusions are what we tell ourselves, what we need, in order to survive.

I enjoyed the book very much. It was a fast read, engaging, with interesting characters and enough suspense to sustain a level of tension. There was, perhaps, too little told of Hector’s wife and why she does what she does. Well, Auster does explain, but I found it unconvincing. I wish that I had kept better track of characters. No, there are not hordes of them. I just wish that I had tracked the braiding of the stories. There is much interweaving here, much that occurs for some that also occur for others. I was too tired while reading this to devote adequate attention to that. C’est la vie. I was encouraged, however, to read more of Auster.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
April 13, 2021
Born Again and Longing for It All to End

I’m guessing, but I don’t think this book was ever seriously edited. It appears to have been written in a continuous stream, not of consciousness but of wherever Austen’s characters wanted to take him at the moment to extricate themselves from frequent literary culs-de-sac. And this includes an immense amount of random detail of relevance to neither the plot nor the characters. The result is a fair short story imitating a rather bad middling size novel.

One important thing happens in the entire book - the accidental death of a young woman. The plot revolves around this death but on threads which seem to be thrown aimlessly into narrative space. The narrator, a widowed academic whose main aim is to distract himself from his loss, claims knowledge he couldn’t possibly have about events occurring a half century prior and told to him second and third hand. He informs the reader at great length about his perceptions but nothing about their meaning for him. Eventually he discovers love and redemption (sweet) and then carelessly loses that.

The protagonist, whose voice we hear only belatedly and briefly (and only in indirect speech; it is the constant indirect speech of ‘he said, she said’ that is a source of tediousness throughout), is a minor Hollywood celebrity of silent films. The academic has written a book about him and believes him dead. He is not; but he is dying. The academic is ambivalent but agrees to meet the ex-actor for reasons that are as unclear as all the other motivations in the story.

All the characters seem to exist in a fog-like drift of haplessness among the unlikely course of their lives. They wander into and out of relationships without reason. They do strange things - insult colleagues needlessly and maliciously, threaten others half-heartedly at gunpoint, attempt suicide (both inadvertently and with intent), stop and start careers casually (from sports goods retailing to the sex trade for example) - which punctuate otherwise pointless lives. The protagonist spends a great deal of his inherited wealth making films that no one else is intended to see.

The flatness of the prose is deadening. There is little relief from the endless dump of uninspired description. Dramatic structure is entirely absent. Events follow each other with no cumulative effect. There is a vague tension that something significant is about to happen. But it never does. What does happen is yet another episode leading nowhere, literary coitus interruptus.

Perhaps Auster’s point is that art only exists on the verge of extinction - extinction of the reader if not the artist. I blame myself. Given Auster’s prolificness and enormous following, it is clearly my unsympathetic inattention which is at fault. Nonetheless, I am left with the feeling of having spent more than several long hours listening to a drunk uncle at a wedding party. My only ambition is to get away before he starts another chapter of family history about people I care nothing about.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
April 18, 2023
Exact în clipa în care Alma Grund urcă în patul nefericitului David Zimmer, deși e ora 3 noaptea și ar fi putut să urce cu cel puțin două ore mai devreme, dacă tot voia asta, eu, unul, ies sfios din roman și o las pe Alma să-l consoleze cum poate ea mai bine pe bărbat, fiindcă David a suferit muuuult, fooooarte mult, și are dreptul la un dram de fericire și la o clipă de intimitate...

Dacă Trilogia New York-ului avea măcar scuza că parodiază ceva, fiind literatură din literatură, artificioasă, dar literatură, utilizare ironică a unor trucuri narative răsuflate, a unor scheme și obsesii venerabile, un joc intertextual, o performanță a inteligenței combinatorii, Cartea iluziilor nu mai are această scuză. Aproape totul este tras de păr. Exagerat. Neverosimil.

Eseurile despre filmul mut (în care a jucat misteriosul Hector Mann), despre memoriile lui Chateaubriand („Memoriile unui om mort”), ideea cărții despre autorii care s-au rătăcit în Abisinia, fiindcă au renunțat brusc la scris (aluzie la cartea lui Vila-Matas, Bartleby y compañía, 2000), nu salvează acest roman plin de stridențe, care ar vrea să ne stoarcă de lacrimi și nu reușește.

Nu e suficient să fii un bun portretist pentru a reuși să pictezi o „Giocondă”...
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,489 reviews2,373 followers
June 5, 2018
Being drawn into Paul Auster's fiction was one of the reasons my reading became more widespread. This story grabbed me from the off, and was indeed difficult to put down. Ok so he is an acquired taste, but there is just something about his writing that hooks you in and doesn't let go so easily. The story here is both captivating and strangely mysterious. It's all about digging into the past in quite an obsessive manner, just who was Hector Mann?, what happened to him?, is he still alive?, gripped by intrigue, professor David Zimmer makes it his life's goal to discover the truth, and step by step he pulls back the blanket on an enigmatic life that no body else would even bother about. Could the great silent film star have been pulling the wool over everyone's eyes all this time?, as we enter deeper and deeper into a cocktail of deceit and dissimulation, his quest for answers starts growing like a cancer. Traversing through the American mid-west and finally New Mexico, nothing could prepare Zimmer for just what is about to follow...

This could be viewed as the brother to 'The New York Trilogy', covering roughly the same sort of ground in places here, but whereas TNYT had cold complexities that either sucked you in, or drove you away, this although complex, has a warmer feel to it and by far is easier to read. Hardcore Auster fans may view this as not his best, but I was totally immersed from start to finish, even if it wasn't the ending I was crying out for.

A dazzling masterpiece of fiction!
Profile Image for عبدالرحمن عقاب.
690 reviews799 followers
December 24, 2018
رواية رائعة! ‏
هذه تجربتي الثانية مع أوستر. روايته عبارة عن معمل إبداعي. تجذبك بقوّة إلى ‏أعماقها. وتبهرك بحيويتها ومفاجآتها. فتكون بذاك مغامرةٌ ممتعة وفريدة. ‏
هل كلّ رواياته كذلك؟ لا أستطيع الحكم لكنّ حدسي يقول ذلك.لأنّ عمله الأوّل ‏الذي قرأته (رحلات في حجرة الكتابة) يوحي بأنّ هذه بصمته الروائية. ‏
رواية عن ممثل كوميدي صامت يختفي فجأة. أو هي دراسة جادة بشكل روائي ‏عنأعماله وتفاصيلها ورسائلها. أو هي رواية فتاةٍ تلتقي هذا الكاتب وتكبر في كنفه ‏فتقرّر الكتابة عنه كتابًا طويلاً. أو هي رواية عن كاتبٍ يكتب كتابًا عن الاثنين. يربط ‏بينهم جميعًا فكرة ظهور العمل بعد الموت! مما يؤهلك للتشكّك في حقيقة وجود ‏أيٍ منهم! (هل كان ذلك حقيقةً أم وهمًا اختلقه الخيال؟)‏
لن أفسد على من ينوي القراءة قراءته بذكر التفاصيل، لكنّ قدرة "أوستر" على ‏صناعة هذه الحكايات وتوالدها المدهش من دواخلها هي قدرةٌ مدهشة. تستحقّ ‏القراءة كما يستحقّ كاتبها متابعة أعماله. ‏
ملاحظة أخيرة: ممّا يُفسد متعة القراءة وجود الأخطاء اللغوية (إملائيًا أو نحويًا) أو ‏الضعف في صياغة بعض الجُمل أو اختيار الكلمات الغريبة في ترجمة نصّ منسابٍ. ‏وكلّ ذلك جاء في هذه الرواية! فليت دار المتوسط على ما عُرف عنها من تميّز ‏الاختيارات والإنتاجات أن تحرص على تدقيق الأعمال(جيّدًا) قبل صدورها. ‏
Profile Image for Jill.
265 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2009
By reading this book I have become a die-hard Auster fan. The man is amazing. So clever, so imaginitive, so poetic and almost profound. This book rambles, and in doing so touches on so many intertwined narratives that one almost gives up on what was assumed to be the original plot and assumes the opening catch phrase was just another Paul Auster smoke screen story line. But this one, even in creating such an intricatedly woven network of a character experiences, never looses sight of its ultimate goal - to explain how the supposed disapearance of a silent film actor affected the life of a professor and widower from Detroit. The world created in this book is done with such care and is so full of unexpected and tangential details that I found myself wondering if I wasn't perhaps reading a work of historical fiction rather than just a plain old novel. It's an amazingly well crafted narrative, heartwrenching and hopeful at the same time. A man's life is an illusion to all except those who share in it.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,266 followers
July 10, 2021

Multi-Dimensional Narrative

Paul Auster uses multiple dimensions of narrative to structure this story of Professor David Zimmer and silent film actor Hector Mann (born Chaim Mandelbaum).

The first and most straightforward tells us about Zimmer and the loss of his wife (Helen) and two sons (Todd and Marco) in a fatal plane crash in 1985. Understandably, Zimmer has failed to recover from his loss, and has suffered from depression in the intervening years: "When a man has nothing to look forward to, he might as well be dead". He has also been angry, self-loathing and unforgiving about his loss, and has often been rude and obnoxious to those surrounding (even especially close to) him, particularly women, even well-meaning work colleagues. When he seeks drugs from a doctor (before a plane trip), he says he "seeks oblivion, not his own death".

The second dimension is the story of Hector Mann, a handsome, mustachioed comic film actor who disappeared from Hollywood in 1929. A fictional issue of "Sight and Sound" described him as "the last great practitioner of the art of silent slapstick." Zimmer, a professor of literature, becomes obsessed with Hector's 12 extant films, and, when given indefinite compassionate leave from his university teaching post, he decides to write a monograph about Hector Mann. The second chapter seems to be a precis of, or extract from, Zimmer's book, "The Silent World of Hector Mann". We learn about the man, Hector, from a close reading and analysis of his creative work.

Auster also refers to gossip columns and newspaper articles speculating about the circumstances of Hector's disappearance, none of which advance a convincing case for a suicide, a kidnapping, a gangland murder, or a staged disappearance. His fate is a mystery. It will take a work of fiction, an assemblage or book of illusions, to solve it.

"Memoirs of a Dead Man"

While Zimmer is waiting for his book to be accepted for publication, he receives an invitation from an old friend, Alex Kronenberg, to translate an autobiographical work of Chateaubriand, which he proposes to entitle "Memoirs of a Dead Man".

The third chapter describes Zimmer's experience of translating this book, and includes an extract from his introduction.

It also contains extracts from a box of paper clippings, fan zines, letters and other ephemera about Hector that Zimmer has collected, but not used in his book.

Both the second and the third chapters give us some context and insight into the broader concerns of the novel and Zimmer's frame of mind. These chapters evoked Nabokov's "Pale Fire".

These quasi-non-fictional works surround, bolster and influence the reading of the fictional work proper, although in reality the whole of the work is a work of fiction.

The Epistles Concerning Hector

While in the process of translating Chateaubriand, Zimmer receives a letter purporting to be from Hector Mann's wife, Frieda Spelling, which states that Hector has read his book and would like to meet him at their studio/ ranch in New Mexico. In a later letter, she explains that Hector had written and directed a number of additional films since leaving Hollywood in 1929, and that he is willing to screen them for Zimmer.

If Hector is actually alive, he must be in his nineties and potentially in bad health. Zimmer, literally, can't believe his eyes, and responds sceptically, which results in the correspondence being discontinued.

This epistolary section leads to the arrival of Alma Grund (Alma's father was Hector's trusted cameraman and friend), who apparently lives with the Manns on their ranch. Her mission is to bring Zimmer, by whatever means necessary, back to New Mexico with her.

Chapter 4, in which this encounter occurs, is written in a Chandleresque style. Alma is a burgundy-and hard-headed femme fatale, who packs a gun in her purse. After a late night argument about whether Zimmer will accompany her back to New Mexico, she declines to sleep on the proffered couch downstairs.

By morning, having found an alternative bed for Alma, Zimmer is more agreeable, so much so that he overcomes his fear of flying without the use of Xanax.

Talk on Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Once their flight lands safely, there is still a 2 1/2 hour drive, until they arrive at the ranch. Alma talks most of the time, revealing her knowledge of Hector's private and family life, about which she, too, has written a book (an authorised biography) called "The Afterlife of Hector Mann" documenting Hector's "whole story" as told to her by him. Her intimate knowledge fills Zimmer in on the period immediately before and after Hector's supposed disappearance.

Because of its intimate and incriminating content, Alma has agreed not to publish her book, until after Hector's death. Frieda, on the other hand, wishes to eliminate all evidence or proof of Hector's existence (which includes his films, notebooks and biography) after his death (to honour an old pact made between the two of them after the bank robbery).

A large part of chapter 5 recounts Hector's amorous and sexual adventures under the pseudonym, Herman Loesser (including a live sex act with a young whore, which they perform 47 times), from which adventures he always walks out, disappears, flees or escapes, up until he meets his future wife in a bank that is about to be robbed by an armed man, who almost takes their lives.


Love Doubles

In chapter 6, Alma elaborates, "They fell hard for each other...If we don't watch out, the same thing is going to happen to us."

Zimmer realises that "Alma was giving me the possibility of a second life, that something was still in front of me if I had the courage to walk toward it."

In effect, Alma was resuscitating or resurrecting Zimmer from his metaphorical death, just as Frieda Spelling gave Herman a new life, by marrying him and allowing him to take her surname, so he became Hector Spelling.

Zimmer and Alma are arguably doubles for Hector and Frieda. "In eight short days, she had brought me back from the dead."

A Book of Fragments...and Illusions

Zimmer admits that "This is a book of fragments, a compilation of sorrows and half-remembered dreams." Fantasies and illusions inevitably come to an end, if prematurely. Nothing lasts, except Zimmer's book. We hold in our hands the only memento that survived the (fictional) events assembled and catalogued in the tellers' tale.

The novel is made complete by what Zimmer calls "my pathetic little collection of notes, my trilogy of desert jottings: the breakdown of [the film] 'The Inner Life of Martin Frost' [in which 'Martin burned his story in order to rescue Claire from the dead'], the snippets from Hector's journal, [both of which he had brief access to when he arrived at the ranch], and an inventory of extraterrestrial plants that had nothing to do with anything."

Having been resurrected by Alma, Zimmer comes to recognise that he is now "living on borrowed time." It's an illusion to believe that he can live happily ever after, even if "something in me resisted the urge to destroy myself...":

"I wasn't sure if I had tricked myself into believing that I was strong enough to go on working - or if I had simply gone numb.

"For the rest of the summer I felt as though I were living in a different dimension, awake to the things around me and yet removed from them at the same time..."

Ultimately, this novel is a fascinating experiment in temporality, stitched together with a thread of mortal romance and sentiment.

Profile Image for Erik.
341 reviews271 followers
August 19, 2011
Paul Auster, you bastard!

The man writes such depressing stuff. As with the other Auster I've read (I know I've only read 2 Austers, I am such a failure at being pretentious), I finished this and I was like... what, why did I read this?

To explain myself I should say that I follow the Roger Ebert school of criticism. Roger Ebert cares more about how a movie makes him feel than on its technical merits. Granted, this is rather less valid in the medium of words on a page than the sound and fury of film, but I still stick to it. I have no problem trashing Plath's Bell-jar, regardless of its supposed literary merit or historical significance, because it bored and annoyed me.

But getting to the point of this book, let me break it down for you literary thugs: there is a man whose family dies in an accident. He is depressed, but then he sees a silent comedy on TV and laughs for the first time in long while. He then decides to write about the star of this silent comedy, a man named Hector Mann. In the course of this, he finds out that Hector Mann disappeared, but he may actually still be alive!!! Stuff ensues, there are some themes brought up, there's some angst, there's some sex, you know the drill. And don't worry none of that's spoiler material, all on the first page basically.

Worth reading for a few pieces of stellar writing. I was particularly impressed by how Auster writes about a film that doesn't actually exist. I bought into it, I was convinced. It's a story within a story (within a story within a story ad nauseam), and it's true that the inner stories are better told than the outer ones. I'm cool with that.

In summary, though: "Paul Auster, you bastard!" is my review. If you likewise enjoy calling famous authors bastards, then I recommend this book to you highly.

As a side note, a result of this novel, I had to add a new shelf called "bepretentious." Just read some of the other, actually useful reviews and you'll see what I mean.
Profile Image for Chris_P.
382 reviews269 followers
November 12, 2021
Paul Auster obviously has a thing for men who linger between reality and nothingness. Men whose realities take a turn towards the vague, so much so, that they seem to dress themselves in the vagueness that surrounds them. Men who lose everything or men who never really had anything to begin with. Men who seem to be caught for good inside an illusion along with everyone that surrounds them. Now they’re here, now they’re not. There are two of those men in The Book of Illusions: the narrator and Hector Man. Bound to each other, they meet only for an hour toward the end but the echo of their meeting is present after as much as before the event.

What strange time for me to read this particular book! By the end of the first chapter it had grabbed me by the neck. What’s weird is that my present state has something of the book’s essence. As a result, book and reality mixed in an almost hurtful way. I regret, however, that my own illusions take up much of my mental capacity nowadays, which proved unable to fully embrace this haunting novel. Not that I regret the illusions themselves. Where would the point in that be, after all?

It’s haunting, intense, and filled with a melancholy that sticks on your fingers with every page that you turn. There’s a kind of sadness in the very idea of illusions, and Auster sure took great advantage of that. It’s the idea that everything you have can disappear in the blink eye. Something precious falls into our arms and we call it a miracle. One day, we open our eyes and it’s gone. Then, it’s a tragedy. The worst is that, once it’s gone, one can never be sure if it was ever even there.

Don’t be fooled, The Book of Illusions is so much more than my clouded mind can produce right now. A story of lightnings that strike the same place twice against all odds. As for me, I’m becoming a fan.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,450 followers
February 24, 2019

بول أوستر رغم ( أمريكيته) بيقدر يدمج القاريء مع روايته بكل سلاسة، ويقدر ينسج خيوط حبكته بكل مهارة ويمهد للأحداث ببراعة يحسد عليها.

ورغم أنه مش من مفضليني، إلا إنه روائي عظيم بإمكانيات مهولة، وخاصة لما تتطرق روايته للكلام عن السينما في عصورها، بتلاقي تأريخ ممتع للغاية متناسق جدا مع الرواية.

رواية جميلة ممتعة قوية، أوستر هنا بيتجلي وبيبعث روايته من أنقاض الحياة، ويستدعي تفاصيل بسيطة ليبني حبكته كشرارة تشعل النار، لنجد في النهاية أنفسنا مرسومة عبر صفحات الكاتب الأمريكي، رواية سينمائية مشاهدها مكتوبة بالعين قبل أن تُكتب بالقلم.

رابع لقاء لي مع أوستر، وفي كل مرة لا يخيّب ظني ويقدم لي وجبة أدبية مكثفة، وكالعادة الشكر موصول لترجمة أسامة منزلجي واللي دايما بتكون متقنة جميلة.
Profile Image for عبدالخالق كلاليب.
Author 6 books737 followers
April 23, 2019
آخر كتاب قرأته لبول أوستر كان رواية (تمبكتو) ولم تعجبني على الإطلاق, وأعطيتها نجمة واحدة بدون تردد رغم أن بول أوستر من الكتاب المفضلين لدي
وقد أملت أن تكون هذه الرواية مختلفة ولم يخب أملي
ها هو أوستر الذي نعرفه من جديد
جميع عناصر رواياته المعتادة موجودة, وأهمها تقنيات الرواية البوليسية في روايات ليست بوليسية
الحزن لم يغب عادةً عن رواياته السابقة ولكنه كان مقنناً, مغلفاً بطبقات أخرى من المشاعر أحياناً, ولكنه هنا كان طاغياً وجارحاً, يتألق في كل صفحة من صفحات هذه الرواية البديعة
رواية عن الحزن, الفقد, التخلي, الضياع , الاندثار , التيه والتشرد الروحي قبل المادي, ولكنها أيضاً رواية عن قوة الحياة, وإمكانية العيش رغم كل شيء إذا ما وجد الشغف الكافي بأي شيء, سواء أكان بشراً أم جماداً أم فكرة.
ومن سمات أوستر المعتادة والمستخدمة ببراعة في هذه الرواية, التلاعب بالزمن, وهو بارع في ذلك حقاً, يتجول بالقارئ في عدة أزمان خلال الرواية وأحياناً عبر صفحات قليلة بمهارة واقتدار وانسيابية
رواية جميلة وممتعة ومؤثرة
Profile Image for Kuszma.
2,273 reviews170 followers
April 2, 2023
Ez a könyv végtére is arról szól, miképp lehet túlélni azt, amit nem lehet túlélni. Mert az ember, úgy fest, időnként hajlamos túlélni, még ha nincs is sok kedve hozzá. Belekapaszkodik valami marginális, piszlicsáré ügybe, mondjuk egy rég elfeledett egykori némafilmszínész rejtélyes eltűnésébe, és miközben ezzel foglalatoskodik, csodálatos módon a felszínen tartja magát. Ha pedig az anyaggyűjtés során valami különöset, valami váratlant talál, az szintúgy kész nyereség, hisz addig sem a whiskyt tolja Xanax-szal. Ez egy pszeudokrimi tehát - egy nyomozás leírása, amiben nem a kinyomozandó dolog a kérdés, hanem hogy maga a nyomozás milyen hatással lesz a nyomozóra, ebben a konkrét esetben: meg tudja-e váltani önmagát általa. És hogy meg tudja-e? Azt nem mondom meg. De nem Austeren múlik, az biztos. Auster, mint mindig, piszok jó.
Profile Image for Harris.
23 reviews14 followers
April 7, 2021
"Αν κάποιος κάνει μια ταινία που δεν θα τη δει κανείς, η ταινία υπάρχει ή όχι;"

Αν και είμαι προκατειλημμένος με τον Auster, λατρεύω ό,τι γράφει, το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο το θεωρώ από τα καλύτερα έργα του.
Άνθρωποι που τα χάνουν όλα, που ακροβατούν ανάμεσα στην ματαιότητα και το τίποτα, ανάμεσα στον κόσμο των ζωντανών και των νεκρών, έως ότου χαθούν και οι ίδιοι. Και μια αίσθηση πως κάθε βίωμα, κάθε ανάμνηση μπορεί να χαθεί από τη μια στιγμή στην άλλη, πως είναι τελικά μια ψευδαίσθηση.
Και όπως λέει και ο ίδιος, οταν όλα καταρρεύσουν, τελικά τι απομένει? Ίσως αυτή να είναι η πιο ενδιαφέρουσα ερώτηση απ'όλες - να δούμε τι συμβαίνει όταν δεν απομένει τίποτα, και αν θα το επιβιώσουμε και αυτό.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,793 reviews4,428 followers
February 25, 2017
David Zimmer is a teacher and writer whose wife and two young sons have been killed in an aeroplane crash. At his lowest ebb, suicidal and alcoholic, David sees a silent film on television and laughs for the first time since the tragedy. Thereafter, he develops a fascination with the actor featured in the old movie, Hector Mann - a minor star of silent comedies who vanished in 1929 and was never seen or heard of again. Travelling around the world in order to visit the film archives containing Hector's few movies, David channels his obsession into a book about the actor's work. However, the story really begins some time after this, when David receives a mysterious letter containing some startling news about Hector.

The Book of Illusions displays many characteristics of Auster's typical style, most noticeably the constant presence of symbolism, the perceived significance of art and the line between reality and (as the title suggests) illusion. Here, rather than the emphasis being on language and writing, the focus is on Hector's films and their visual impact, though of course the power of storytelling is still key. When David discovers that Hector made some films that were never seen by anyone else, he questions whether art has any importance if it is not shared with and experienced by an audience. David's ruminations are mirrored in various ways throughout the narrative - David withdraws from life, shuts himself away and becomes invisible, so it seems ironic that he becomes obsessed with a silent movie star; Hector makes a film called 'Mr. Nobody' in which he literally becomes invisible, and then, in his real life, he disappears; another character, Alma, is made more visible by a large birthmark on her face, yet she feels this gives her the ability to instantly see others' true characters through their reactions to her appearance.

There are elements of the story that are, from a distance, completely implausible. The manner of David and Alma's first meeting is really quite ridiculous, and certainly unbelievable, as is the speedy development of their relationship. But I think this is where the genius of Auster's writing really lies, in suspending the reader's disbelief and immersing you so deeply into the story that these strange events seem believable. I can imagine that the book won't work for everyone - some may find the lengthy descriptions of unseen, nonexistent films dull (I really enjoyed them), and there's a curious... quietness about it all - a very subdued feel. This is not a deeply thrilling novel, more of a restrained but haunting little tale. On balance I think I personally prefer Oracle Night, but there is plenty to recommend this story, especially for fans of the author. (If you're not already acquainted with Auster, I'd still recommend The New York Trilogy as a primer.)
Profile Image for Sarah Samir.
609 reviews358 followers
November 14, 2022
"إنني الآن أخاطب الموتى. إنهم الوحيدون الذين أثق فيهم، والوحيدون الذين يفهمونني. وأنا مثلهم، أعيش بلا مستقبل "

قصة دايفيد زيمر استاذ جامعي يفقد زوجته وولديه في حادث طائرة ليستسلم للإكتئاب ويبدأ في تدمير حياته ليصل الى محاولات انتحار ايضا
ولكن يجد في المخرج هيكتور مان مخرجه الوحيد من هذا اليأس الكلي
يتعرف على افلامه الكوميديه الصامته ليقع في دوامة البحث عن المخرج المختفي من الوجود .. ليس بالحي ولا بالميت

ليكتب كتاب عنه يقربه اكثر من حقيقة وجود هكتور مان
ومن خلال دايفيد نتعرف على افلام هكتور وتفاصيلها الكثيرة وعلى حياته بالكامل حتى بعد اختفاءه لنعلم سيرة غير ذاتية من داخل القبر
“هناك أفكار تحطم العقل،أفكار من القوة والقبح،بحيث إنها تخربك حالما تبدأ بالتفكير فيها.لقد كنت أخاف مما أعلم،خفت السقوط في رعب ما أعلم،ولذلك لم أجسد الفكر بالكلمات إلى أن فات الأوان على الكلمات لكي تفيدني.”

للأسف لم استطع الاستمتاع بهذا العمل الجميل من وجهة نظر الأغلبية ولكن في نفس الوقت كانت هناك لحظات جيدة في الاحداث جذبتني لأكمل للنهاية رغم كرهي لها
من الجائز ان يكون السبب مجرد كرهي لكمية التفاصيل الغير ضرورية بالمرة او حكايته لأفلام لهكتور سواء تمثيل او اخراج ووصفه لكل مشهد من الفيلم حتى النهاية
جعلني افقد ارتباطي بالشخصيات .. فقدت تسلسل احداث حياة دايفيد او هكتور في وسط تلك التفاصيل عن ترجمات كتب او عن اساليب التصوير او فنانين او حتى تفاصيل الافلام نفسها وتصويرها والمشاكل التي قابلتهم اثناء القيام بها

كنت اتمنى ان تكون التجربة افضل من هذا ولكن افخر بإكمالي للرواية للنهاية رغم كل الظروف
شكرا اصدقاء القراءة على المشاركة وتشجيعكم اني اكملها للنهاية وشكرااا للصديقة سارة عبد العزيز .. سعدت بترشيحاتها لنا كثيرا 💖🌹
Profile Image for George Georgiadis.
45 reviews62 followers
July 8, 2015
Μου θύμισε εκείνη τη φράση που ειπώθηκε δια στόματος Μάθιου Μακόναχι στην πρώτη σεζόν του True Detective: "To realize that all your life, all your love, all your hate, all your memories, all your pain, it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream, a dream that you had inside a locked room, a dream about being a person". Μεγάλος Auster και πάλι.
Profile Image for Krenzel.
34 reviews21 followers
August 24, 2023

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound or not? This famous question is closely examined in "The Book of Illusions," by author Paul Auster, as he tells the story of literature professor David Zimmer, who copes with the death of his wife and two sons by shutting out the real world so that he can inhabit the "silent world of Hector Mann," an obscure actor from the 1920s. After leaving a dozen movies behind that nobody seems to know about, Hector disappeared in 1929, presumed dead. However, it turns out he is actually alive in New Mexico, paying penance for the role he played in the accidental death of his girlfriend – vowing never to make another movie and eventually only agreeing to make movies if they will be destroyed immediately upon his death and never be seen by an audience. According to Hector’s rationale, if he makes a movie and nobody sees it, then his movie does not exist. But is this true? Does an idea have to be shared – and experienced by others – to exist and take on meaning? Although he provides confusing answers throughout the work, first suggesting that Hector’s greatness can be achieved on his own, ultimately Auster seems to conclude that Hector’s works only become important when they are shared and experienced by others.

At first, Auster suggests Hector can attain greatness on his own, even without an audience. When Hector Mann disappears, his film career is pretty much over due to the invention of sound in movies and his heavy accent. His last major film, "Mr. Nobody," is a response to the frustration he feels about his career, as, in the film, his character takes a magic potion that makes him invisible. Eventually, he is reborn as a new person, and, facing himself in the mirror, he confronts the fact of his own annihilation with an exuberant smile – the last image of Hector Mann that will be seen by audiences, seemingly content with the idea he is "no longer the Hector Mann who has amused us and entertained us." Similarly, in his own life, Hector is forced to disappear after his girlfriend is killed, and, to disguise himself, he loses his trademark mustache, so that he is "the spitting image of Mr. Nothing himself." In his new life, Hector no longer makes movies, but instead works odd jobs and focuses on reading, writing, learning English, and planting trees. In his journals, Hector writes, "I talk only to the dead now. They are the only ones I trust, the only ones who understand me." Hector no longer shares himself with an audience – Hector Mann has been annihilated – but, according to his biographer and friend Alma, he is closer to greatness than ever before: "[T]he further he traveled from his point of origin, she said, the closer he came to achieving greatness. [. . . ]Even now, he still talks about the trees as his greatest accomplishment. Better than his films, she says, better than anything else he’s ever done." In this reading of Hector’s life, based on the interpretation of "Mr. Nobody," Hector is the only voice that matters; even without an audience, he can still attain greatness.

However, a later film, "The Inner Life of Martin Frost," questions this notion that artists can attain greatness without sharing their work with others. In this movie, which Hector made after his disappearance with the promise it would never be released to an audience, is different from his earlier work: it is serious, not a comedy, and Hector does not act in it. In the movie, Martin Frost, a writer, must destroy his work to save the life of his girlfriend Claire. After she is brought back to life and realizes what has happened, she erupts in tears, asking Martin if he realizes what’s he done and desperately wondering what they are going to do now. The movie ends ambiguously with her questions and no answers from Martin. Similarly, after Hector’s death, his wife Frieda destroys everything – his movies, his journals, and even the manuscript of a biography his friend Alma had been working on for seven years – in a "precise reenactment of the final scene of Martin Frost." Pondering Frieda’s actions, David thinks about Hector’s sacrifice of "the one thing that would have given his work meaning – the pleasure of sharing it with others," but then realizes that, in Frieda’s mind, "It was about making something in order to destroy it. That was the work, and until all evidence of the work had been destroyed, the work would not exist. It would come into being only at the moment of its annihilation." In Frieda’s interpretation, work was not created for others; in fact, sharing Hector’s work with others would cause it to lose its meaning.

However, ultimately, both of Auster’s protagonists – David Zimmer and Hector Mann – seem to repudiate Frieda and believe that Hector’s work does not lose meaning if it is shared with others. When Alma had first told David about her biography of Hector, he was initially skeptical: "It’s one thing to unburden himself to you, but a book is for the world, and as soon as he tells his story to the world, his life becomes meaningless." In other words, a book exists not for the author or subject but for readers, and by sharing himself with them, Hector could lose himself. He would exist as they saw him, and not as he really was – their illusions of him would become reality. When David questions Hector about why he would want to give himself away like that, Hector answers, "Why should it bother me to turn myself into an example for others? [. . . .] You laughed, Zimmer. Perhaps others will begin to laugh with you." These words – the last Hector speaks in the book – show his realization of the positive impact his work can have on others, as he comes to the conclusion that his earlier films, if they made David laugh, were "perhaps the greatest good" he had done. David ultimately seems to embrace Hector’s viewpoint, hoping that others will laugh with him, as he takes pleasure when Hector’s silent comedies are put out on video and becomes an honorary member of a fan club, the International Brotherhood of Hector Manniacs. Most of all, he hopes that someday the lost films of Hector Mann – the ones that Frieda destroyed – will be found somehow so others can enjoy them like he did, "and the story will start all over again. I live with that hope." In order to have meaning, Hector’s films must be shared with others. Unlike Frieda, David believes that Hector’s films should be shared with the world.

Although he provides confusing answers throughout "The Book of Illusions," first suggesting that Hector’s greatness can be achieved on his own, ultimately Auster seems to conclude that Hector’s works only become important when they are shared and experienced by others. Like the confusing answers to the question of the movie that nobody sees, "The Book of Illusions" is full of other confusing themes and contradictions. For example, one major theme of the book is the effect of chance and how small circumstances can have a significant impact on our lives. However, while there are some small circumstances which impact the action in the book, for the most part, the major events are more like contrived and implausible plot devices – an ex-girlfriend killed by a current girlfriend, a wife and two sons lost in a plane crash, David held at gunpoint so that he will watch a movie, a tough fall resulting in another death, a suicide, a possible murder. Are these really "small circumstances" of chance? Moreover, while this issue of fate is explored in depth like the meaning of one’s work, the two themes are never tied together. In Auster’s telling, both Hector and David cope with loss by turning to art but they are not reborn again except through accidents of fate, so that the one seemingly resolved idea in the book – the issue of the movie nobody hears – becomes irrelevant compared to the greater themes of fate and rebirth. The interplay between the various themes is never explored, and it is easy to get confused as all of these ideas are presented, but are often contradicted and never fully resolved, leading a reader to ponder the 2001 Atlantic Monthly article’s criticism of Paul Auster: "[He] knows the prime rule of pseudo-intellectual writing: the harder it is to be pinned down on any idea, the easier it is to conceal that one has no ideas at all." In light of the questions asked in "The Book of Illusions," it is easy to wonder: if an author throws out a lot of different ideas but never resolves them, so that readers can’t understand what those ideas are, do the ideas actually exist?

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Doug.
50 reviews2 followers
May 29, 2007
I just recommended this book to someone stranded in the Minneapolis airport. I had forgotten how much I liked it until I saw it sitting there quietly on the shelf, minding it's own business.

This is why real books are so much more awesome than ebooks--they come back to tickle your mind. That, and when you spill wine on them (like I did on my copy of The Book of Illusions) they don't give up the ghost in an electric funeral.

Anyhow. Take that, Minneapolis.
Profile Image for Daniel Chaikin.
594 reviews54 followers
October 3, 2020
What if it‘s all for nothing?

David, our narrator gets obsessed with an obscure 1920's-era silent film star Hector Mann, who made 12 silent comedies and then disappeared in 1928, as in he was a missing person and was never to found. David chases down and studies all his films and then publishes a book on them. Some time later, after the book is published and made a small number of sales, he gets a letter by someone claiming to be Hector's wife inviting him to meet Hector Mann in person, who is living incognito in New Mexico as Hector Spelling. Is this real? David's uncertainty leads him to explain himself, how this books hurts him, how his whole obsession happened in the midst of his kind of collapse after losing his wife and kids in a airplane crash while he remained in his Vermont home. And we learn that apparently Hector has continued to make movies, except he wants them all destroyed at his death and he's dying and no one has seen them.

This is terrific storytelling, a continual pouring out of captivating story facts. It's easy enjoyable reading (that I was able to put it down for long periods of time says more about me than the book). And there is a lot going on. Auster, I think, makes full use of Mann's name and his later life in New Mexico...Hector, the father, warrior, slain by Achilles, and it's direct meaing of hectoring man...a man or all humanity (perhaps with intentional sexist intent?). The book then comes to an uncomfortable end. There seems to be an unclear but distinct point. I think readers who effortlessly hummed through will feel suddenly uncomfortable. Left me that way. Wondering.

This is the first Paul Auster I've read. It was a really enjoyable book, one I can safely recommend to anyone interested and even to those a little resistant.


48. The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
published: 2002
format: 321-page paperback, given to me by a coworker in August
read: Aug 20 – Sep 22 (8 hr 20 min, 1.6 m/p)
rating: 4
locations: mainly Vermont and New Mexico
about the author: American author from Newark, NJ, born 1947
Profile Image for Fructitza.
210 reviews44 followers
November 28, 2021
"Finalul m-a dazamãgit, de aici doar cele trei stele. În rest, e Paul Auster si am zis tot:)" -așa spuneam data trecută și nu aveam dreptate. Acum, la recitire, ii dau 5 stele, am fost mult mai atentă și am citit-o oarecum detaşatã, fãrã graba de a afla ce se întãmplã. Ceea ce am înţeles acum este cã dl.Auster nu pune accent pe acțiune, ci pe aspectul psihologic și emoțional, acolo stăruie el mult, acolo e punctul forte al "iluziilor".
Profile Image for Parastoo Ashtian.
108 reviews98 followers
May 24, 2017
کتاب من از دل اندوه و افسوس عمیقی زاده شده بود. حتی حالا که آن دوران را پشت سر گذاشته‌ام آن اندوه رهایم نکرده است. نوشتن درباره کمدی بهانه‌ای بیش نبود، دارویی بود که یک سال تمام هر روز بی رعایت زمان بندی می‌خوردم تا درد درونم را آرام کند. از برخی جهات این دارو اثر کرد.

‎متن از کتاب
Profile Image for إسراء يونس.
Author 6 books110 followers
October 4, 2022
" لقد أكتشفت أنني أعيش في زمن مُستعار " .

أجمل وأكمل وأبلغ رواية، وأكثرهم إمتاعًا، وإشباعًا لعقلي وروحي، قرأتها السنة دي .
Profile Image for Timár_Krisztina.
216 reviews40 followers
November 2, 2019
Intelligensen megírt, sokrétű, komoly értelemben vett játék. Első olvasásom Austertől, akiről minden ismerősöm, aki csak olvasta, nagy tisztelettel beszél. Nem bántam meg, hogy elolvastam, szeretem az ilyen okos játékokat, a matrjoska-történeteket, főleg ebben a stílusban megírva.

Csak hát az van, hogy nem tesz hozzá semmit az életemhez. Én meg valahogy azt várnám, hogy ha egy regény rákerül az 1001 könyv listájára, az csináljon velem valamit. Fordítsa ki egy kicsikét a négy sarkából az életemet és/vagy a személyiségemet. Erről a regényről semmi ilyesmit nem lehet elmondani.

Az illúziók könyve legfeljebb megerősít abban, amit korábban is tudtam. Még csak nem is olyan dolgokat fogalmaz meg, amelyeket korábban képtelen lettem volna elmondani. Emiatt pedig sajnos elég kiszámíthatónak bizonyult. Amíg olvastam, lekötött, főleg a némafilmekről szóló rész* - de amikor letettem, legfeljebb az inspirált arra, hogy nyissam ki újra, hogy lejáróban volt a kölcsönzési határidő. Ha tanulmányt kellene írnom róla, repesnék az örömtől, ezer és egy témát ki lehetne választani, újabb és újabb rétegeket felfejteni - de minden tanulság annyira nyilvánvalóan ugrik elő a regényből, sehol semmi meglepő, semmi, ami ne lenne precízen kiszámítva.

Összességében: jó könyv, de nem esett volna ki a világ feneke, ha nem íródik meg.

* Aranyos ötletnek tartom, hogy valóban leforgattak Auster ötlete alapján egy némafilmet, jó, hogy megszületett ez az alkotás, de annak, ahogyan Auster ír, ez a képi világ a nyomába nem ér.
Profile Image for Mohammed.
446 reviews580 followers
February 8, 2023
كتاب الأوهام
بول أوستر

كتاب عن أوهام الطموح، عن شبح السعادة الماضية، عن الفقد المفاجئ وعن تعويضات الحياة المستحقة. الكتاب الثاني الذي أقرؤه لبول أوستر بعد اختراع العزلة حيث مسّني أسلوب أوستر الراقي ونبرته الحزينة.

حزن مقيم

لعل أبرز ما في هذه الرواية هو الأسى المستشري في جنباتها. كل من الشخصيات فقد شيئاً: شخصاً مقرباً، حلماً في مهده أو حياة مهنية صاعدة. يختلف كل منا في التعامل مع الفقد، وكذلك هي شخصيات الرواية. وهذا لا يعني أن الرواية ميلودرامية أو مقبّضة للغاية، بل قُدمت بشكل متزن واحترافي إلى حد بعيد.

عالم وهمي - حقيقي

اختيار الموضوع فريد من نوعه. نقرأ عن ممثل كوميدي من حقبة الأفلام الصامتة اختفى في ظروف غامضة إبان صعود نجمه. بهذا الاختيار للشخصية، يُدخلنا أوستر في عالم السينما الصامت بتقنياته ورموزه وموضوعاته. ولا يكتفي بذلك بل يعرض لنا بالكلمات أفلاماً وهمية قامت بها شخصيته. هو هنا يخترع فيلماً، يحلله وينتقده. النتيجة هو أننا نعيش عالماً له أبجدياته الخاصة وقد نواجه صعوبة في نفض زَيف الشخصية عن أذهاننا ونحن نمضي في النص.

أحداث متسارعة

رغم الخط السردي شبه الكلاسيكي، إلا أن الرواية تتحدى الملل. الأحداث كثيرة ومترابطة وهناك شيء من الغموض وبعض المفاجآت الكامنة في المنعطفات السردية. لعل الكاتب استرسل قليلاً في وصف أفلام هكتور مان بأحداثها وكواليسها، فيما عدا ذلك كنت ألهث وراء الأحداث. في لحظات معينة شممت رائحة الرواية التجارية، ولكنها كانت مجرد هبّة خفيفة لا تغلب على رزانة المحتوى.

تفاصيل ذات معنى

في عالم بول أوستر وهكتور مان التفاصيل مهمة وتشركنا في الأحداث. اسم الدواء المستخدم للتغلب على رهاب الطيران ومفعوله، الشامة بحجم قبضة اليد على وجه الفتاة، اختلاجات شارب هكتور مان في مختلف المواقف...كلها إضافات تجعلنا نرى النص رأي العين ونستلهم كل مشاعره. لا يسعني سوى أن أثنى على مهارة أوستر في رسم المشاهد والشخصيات بريشة دقيقة.

رواية ممتازة، يكتنفها الحزن، غنية بالتفاصيل، مزدحمة بالأحداث.
Profile Image for Ingrid.
80 reviews26 followers
August 2, 2017
Primo romanzo che leggo di un autore, Paul Auster, di cui ho letto sempre bene, special modo per il suo romanzo più famoso, vale a dire "Trilogia di N.Y".
Psicologicamente sopravvissuto alla morte della famiglia in un disastro aereo, David Zimmer attraversa un normale periodo di depressione e sconforto assoluto interrotto, quasi magicamente (o, per l'appunto, in modo illusorio), dalla visione di un film muto alla televisione. In questa pellicola, che lo fa ridere fino alle lacrime, c'è un attore, il protagonista, Hector Mann, al quale decide di dedicarsi, vedendo e studiando i suoi film.
Da lì si aprono un ventaglio di storie, di matrioske di emozioni e frammenti di vite vissute, in un incalzare sempre più vorticoso.
La trama principale e' apparentemente lineare e anche un po' scarna, ma il vero nucleo del racconto sono il lungo flashback sulla vita di Mann prima e dopo la sua scomparsa e due descrizioni dei suoi film. Questi ultimi in particolar modo sono così dettagliati e descritti alla perfezione, che ti lasciano la sensazione esatta di aver visto anche tu quel film.
E' un romanzo che rapisce e incanta, una storia dolorosa raccontata da un amico, che ti si confida e si apre via via che il romanzo prosegue. Ogni pagina è dolorosa, misteriosa e incantevole. La scrittura di Auster è davvero incisiva, diretta, senza il benché minimo fronzolo, scandaglia le angosce e le nevrosi dell'uomo in modo fin troppo spietato, descrivendo la solitudine dell'uomo e i demoni che lo abitano con assoluta lucidità.
Profile Image for Alika Tanaka Yarnell.
294 reviews12 followers
February 14, 2008
A surprising book that is riveting through to the final words. I say "surprising" because at first it's not clear as to what kind of book this is going to be. As with some of Auster's other work, the novel is told through a first-person narrator who happens to be a writer. We get long accounts of the book he is writing (about a silent filmmaker who went missing some years prior) and almost forget that there is a narrator involved, that we aren't reading a third-person account of this filmmaker's strange life. But the book takes several turns and we get our narrator back--with interest--as a series of events unfold in a haunting and devastating way. Auster is a master at seamlessly weaving complex themes into his prose without being heavy-handed or at the sacrifice of a good and entertaining story. Hats off to you, sir.
Profile Image for Laura.
6,908 reviews565 followers
September 28, 2012
Just arrived from Australia through BM.

Man has not one and the same life. He has many lives,
placed end to end, and that is the cause of his misery.

by Chateaubriand

Opening Lines:
Everyone thought he was dead. When my book about his films was published in 1988, Hector Mann had not been heard from in almost sixty years.

After a terrible family tragedy, Professor David Zimmer starts a huge translation project, namely Chateaubriand's Memoires D'outre Tombe, a book of 2,000 pages.

In the meantime, he becomes obsessed by a silent comedian Hector Mann who was living in a retired small village in New Mexico.

When he finally meets Hector, his life will change forever.

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