Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

"The New York Trilogy" by Paul Auster (Faber, 1987)

I wasn't tempted by the first page's uncertainty, but it was worth reading on. Stillman's monologue (like Vladimir after Prozac or Estragon after therapy sessions) dragged, but given that it represented over 12 hours of real time, one shouldn't complain. The description of Stillman's book is great fun. I presume people have worked out the shape of Quinn's walk in chapter 11. There are many cute touches. E.g.

  • "Fate in the sense of what was, of what happened to be. It was something like the word 'it' in the phrase 'it is raining' or 'it is night'. What that 'it' referred to Quinn had never known" (p.111).
  • "He asked himself why Christopher, the patron saint of travel, had been decanonized by the Pope in 1969, just at the time of the trip to the moon" (p.130)

The last part justifies the earlier ones, but even so, the middle section's too long. Various paired concepts are shown as processes with fluid components - Authors and books; Observer and observed; Names and things. It's a Who's who with the narrator getting paid to investigate assumed identities, searching for (and thus creating) them in observations and jotted facts.

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