The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster

I don’t read a lot of (or any, really) literary fiction. But I was recommended this book, or, trilogy of novellas, I guess, by a friend and was impressed by its strangeness.

It grabbed my attention right from the start by being about a writer who seems to be confusing himself with his characters. Then gets even more interesting when that character starts getting phone calls from someone asking for Paul Auster… who is the author of the book I’m reading.

The ‘weird’ in these three stories is very subtle and very subversive. You don’t really notice how it is getting under your skin until it’s there, and you have no idea what is real and what is imagined and what is a metaphor and what is literal. The stories all seem to be connected, without really being connected on the surface. The stories all seem to make a deeper kind of sense, though the meaning is just out of reach, like a word on the tip of your tongue.

The theme seemed to be one of isolation and obsession. The characters all end up becoming overcome by some task and locking themselves away from the world to complete it. They then seem surprised that their lives have fallen apart in their absence.

I quite enjoyed this but I don’t think it is for everyone. If you want a story where you close the book with all the answers and the story is complete and done, then this one may leave you unsatisfied. It will stick with you, you’ll wonder what it means, and will be thinking about it long after you read the last word.


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