Review: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

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Published: 1988

This book was actually recommended to me by my boss. I know, random! We were discussing some of our favourite authors and even genres, and he happen to have one of his favourite books on him and just said here, give this a read. Although I have never heard of the author or book, I was intrigued.

What a brilliantly written book this was! I was very impressed by the sheer cleverness of the author. Well that is after the about the first 40 pages. Until then it was just a really odd book, and to be quite frank a bit tedious to get into. Very trite facts were disclosed  which, to this day, I don’t know why. In one scene Quinn, the main character of the first story, is sitting on the toilet reading a chapter on Marco Polo when the phone rings. The reader is then walked through Quinn’s  conflicts of interest, does he finish his “business” or does he get the phone. Eventually this description is born :

“By third ring his bowels were empty. By the fourth ring, he had succeeded in wiping himself. By fifth ring, he had pulled up his pants, left the bathroom, and was walking  calmly across the apartment.” (10)

Thanks for that Paul.

Anyway, as the title suggests the book is split into three parts, and although each story follows a different character they are all interlocked as you find out later on.

It’s also a very isolated book, without very many characters. Most of the stories have 2 up to 4 characters in total. Auster is rather keen on exploring the main characters thought processes and reactions to bizarre situations. In the first story for example, Quinn gets mistaken for a detective. His life has been rather mundane and disconnected from human interactions until this phone call, and rather spontaneously he decides go along with the story. This decision changes his life dramatically. Don’t be fooled though, this is certainly not your typical detective story. Rather the focus remains, as previously stated, on the main character and the couple of other people he meets.

Verdict: It’s the book that you can read over and over again without being bored. And that says a lot considering it’s a detective tale. Definitely a part of your post-modern fiction shelf.

What is your favourite post-modern novel? Have you read Auster?

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4 thoughts on “Review: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

  1. Is it wrong that it was the completely random bathroom description that makes me want to read this? I love that kind of randomness in books. I’ve never heard of this until now, so thanks for the introduction. I’m definitely adding it to my ever growing to-read list.
    – Ashley

    • Ahaha I am so glad that you took a liking to that obscurity! In a way the rawness of the text is something I can really appreciate too. Definitely find some time to give it a read. It’s not very long!

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