Nino Frewat's Reviews > The Brooklyn Follies

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
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Apr 16, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: american-fiction

Is Paul Auster worth your time?

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

“The Brooklyn Follies”, written in the first person narrative form, is about an ex-insurance salesman, Nathan Wood, well into his 60s, who survives cancer and returns back to his native Brooklyn (Auster’s perpetual home). Does this return symbolize or mean anything? No. Do we get to feel Brooklyn? No.
Serendipity brings him in contact with his nephew; a would-have-been brilliant author / critic, had it not been for... Well we don’t really know. Tom Glass, Nathan Wood’s nephew (and yes, Nathan/Auster does mention this brilliant pun), foregoes his writing ambition for the “safe” job of a cab-driver.

Gradually, characters inhabit the story, effacing any potential interest it might spur, besides it being a family-reunion fiction.
It feels tedious, and possibly boring, to give an account of what happens along, but I can safely say that, in comparison with third-degree storytellers, no other writer I know of uses this “magical wand” so frequently, and liberally, to make things happen and work like Auster does: Love develops, people are reunited, oppressed freed, money distributed to those in-need, people cured... So much, that at the end of the story, I am impatiently waiting for: “And they lived happily ever after”

In all fairness, real life is real life; monotonous, uneventful, duplicate acquaintances tending towards normality... and it is about this ever-flow with its stubborn perturbations, here and there, that Auster writes. But he could have done it with style, with some depth, with something original, something different, than the everyday banter we engage in.
Throughout the book, a couple of stories are told about Poe, Melville, and Kafka, though they feel to me as”Did you know?”blurbs.

To the post’s question, my answer is No! This will definitely be my last Auster; there are other contemporary writers out there, some certainly in Brooklyn, who better deserve our time and support.
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06/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Kamel (new) - added it

Kamel Harhoura It's actually Nathan Glass, not Wood..Tom Wood


message 2: by R/P (new) - rated it 3 stars

R/P Reading Travels in the Scriptorium as your first book by Paul Auster is a BIG mistake. I did the same thing and by the end was so confuse I didn't know if I would ever read anymore by him. Thankfully, I did read more. My suggestion would be to try Sunset Park, Man In the Dark, or The Book of Illusions. Either one will give you, I think, a better idea of what Auster can do.


message 3: by Nino (new) - rated it 1 star

Nino Frewat Thanx RP. I've been given the same advice by a blogger. I don't think I will give Auster another chance. I think there are plenty of interesting American writers to pick from and delve in their books before I give Auster another try.


message 4: by Martin (new)

Martin Davies Travels in the Scriptorium is made up largely of characters from other Auster novels and will make little sense without having read at least a few of them. To be fair to you, that should probably be made clear on the blurb on the back of the book, but it's not.


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