Paula's Reviews > Man in the Dark

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 22, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in February, 2009

Man in the Dark is a short novel (180 pages) composed of one long chapter. I would categorize it as meta-fiction once removed or fictionalized meta-fiction (In this it reminds me of 2 novels I read last year: Queen of the Prisons of Greece, by Osman Lins and Diary of a Bad Year, by J.M. Coetzee). August Brill, the storyteller/ protagonist, is a 72 year old retired book critic and insomniac who lies awake at night telling himself stories while worrying about his 47 year old daughter Miriam and his 23 year old granddaughter Katya and while grieving for his dead wife Sonia.
For the first 2/3 of the novel, the narrative switches back and forth between August's memories and musings and the story he invents to distract himself from the same. The protagonist of August's story is Owen Brick (a professional magician called the Great Zavello)who finds himself in a parallel world where he is a corporal in the Independents’ army. In this parallel world, 9/11 never happened and the U.S. never went to war against Iraq. Instead, America is caught up in its 4th year of a civil war between the Independents (16 states) and the Federals, with 13 million dead as of April 19, 2007.
Unfortunately, August/ Auster abruptly ends the story of Owen Brick on page 118. From then on, the novel stays with August and his memories as he responds to Katya's demands to tell her about his marriage to her grandmother. Well and good, but this just isn't as interesting as the parallel worlds story (which itself is too convoluted to summarize here). Sigh!
At its best, however, Man in the Dark lives up to what could be the epigraph of the memoir August never finishes or the collection of stories he never writes: the one line from Rose Hawthorne's poetry that the book critic in August admires: "As the weird world rolls on."
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Man in the Dark.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.