Paul Auster’s “The New York Trilogy”

Just finished reading Paul Auster’s The New York TrilogyCity of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room in the Penguin paperback edition. I liked the first and last more than the middle tale but all were highly original works, modeled on detective fiction and narrated with no false steps, despite being heavy on self-analysis and philosophical introspection.

A few quotes you might find of interest, all from The Locked Room:

Fanshawe, thought dead, sends a note to the narrator, a childhood friend and curator of Fanshawe’s legacy (which includes novels, plays, poetry, essays, and other scattered pieces). In the note Fanshawe says this about his work:

Writing was an illness that plagued me for a long time, but now I have recovered from it. (p. 281)

And two other thoughts that pass through the narrator’s mind:

In the end, each life is no more than the sum of contingent facts, a chronicle of chance intersections, of flukes, of random events that divulge nothing but their own lack of purpose. (p. 256)

Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling. To say that so and so was born here and went there, that he did this and did that, that he married this woman and had these children, that he lived, that he died, that he left behind these books or this battle or that bridge—none of that tells us very much. We all want to be told stories, and we listen to them in the same way we did when we were young. We imagine the real story inside the words, and to do this we substitute ourselves for the person in the story, pretending that we can understand him because we understand ourselves. This is a deception. We exist for ourselves, perhaps, and at times we even have a glimmer of who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and as our lives go on, we become more and more opaque to ourselves, more and more aware of our own incoherence. No one can cross the boundary into another—for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself. (p. 291)

And later:

Everyone knows that stories are imaginary. Whatever effect they might have on us, we know they are not true, even when they tell us truths more important than the ones we can find elsewhere. (p. 295)

Intriguing mysteries for those who don’t mind a detective who goes deeper than mere fact.

Author: Ron

See this link for biographical info: