Bev's Reviews > The Book of Illusions

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
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's review
Aug 20, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: kindle, novel
Read in August, 2012

Professor David Zimmer's life is destroyed when his wife and two young sons are killed in a plane crash. He goes on a destructive binge of drinking and taking pills until he happens to see a documentary in which he is drawn to silent film comedian Hector Mann, who vanished around 1929 after a brief but promising film career. Zimmer begins to investigate the work of Hector Mann, an interest which becomes an obsession which takes him on a quest to see the 12 films which were mailed, anonymously, to 12 museums around the world. He ends up writing a book about Mann and some time later receives a letter from a woman claiming to be Mann's wife, saying that Mann is very much alive, but ill, and would like to meet with him. This sets off a series of events no one could anticipate.

Auster writes with such convincing detail that the first part of his book reads almost like a documentary, so much so that I wanted to google Hector Mann and find out what Wikipedia had to say about him. (I actually found there is an entry, about a band that created an album based on Auster's book, and several entries by people who seem to think Mann was a real actor.) Auster's description of Mann's films is so detailed it makes it difficult to believe they don't actually exist. If Auster wanted to make those films, he already has a ready-made screenplay within his own book.

This is a great read and highly recommended.

ADDENDUM: I have read through the negative reviews for this book and must add that this was my introduction to Auster, so I don't have the luxury of comparing this to his previous works.
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