Book Friday: The New York Trilogy – Review


I’ve spoken before of my massive crush on Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster. I have life envy of these two, really. Hey, I’m happy being me but I would love to spend a day in the life of these two.

I’ve also spoken about how it takes me A LOT longer to get through a book these days…what with reading your blogs, writing this one, having to read and mark assessments and liking a ye olde glossy magazine or five…and a small matter of a little man too….just means I don’t get as much time as I used to. So, it’s taken me a while to get through New York Trilogy.

I read The Brooklyn Follies a little while back and really enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to given that I came to Paul through my love of Suri’s work but I really did. His character are so likeable.

Some of my favourite quotes are Paul Auster ones:

“Books constantly change even though the words are the same. The world changes, people change, people find a book at the right moment and it answers something, some need or desire.”

and

“Attempts to flee from yourself are useless”

Beautiful language. The kind of language that you write down to remember because it’s so beautiful.

This book is a series of 3 short stories that are claimed to be a modern take on the old detective story. I’m not usually a fan of short stories but I was willing to give these a go, cos, well, it’s Paul Auster but I must admit that I found them tough going. Not that I didn’t love them, I did rather enjoy them but because I knew I needed to digest them properly.

The thing I really enjoyed was that somehow, the writer was a very clear presence. Yes, the narrator of any novel is the clear presence for me as a reader usually but somehow there narrator and the writer here were the same – or at least they were in parts.

I read a cleverer reviewer than me say that, “With the breakdown of the character usually comes the breakdown of the standard narrative technique” and I agree. At this breakdown in each novella I was a tad confused but also much more drawn in to the characters (mostly men on the whole). I’ve read others use the tag, “metafiction” and hey, I’m no literature reviewer so shall leave you to click on that link if you care less about it but I do agree that it is a piece that very much draws attention to the fact that it’s a piece of fiction and it does so in a really self conscious way.

I read another review that said that we should call this book, “anti-detective fiction” as by the end of it, we have solved nothing. A little disconcerting to be sure.

I enjoyed the premise in Part 1, “City of Glass” and enjoyed the moment when the fictional Quinn meets Paul Auster (clever!) and was very intrigued by the second novella, “Ghosts” but found it some of it a little too psychologically confronting. The third story, “The Locked Room” was for me, the highlight and is brilliant at tying them all in together. I don’t understand how people say they don’t fit together as a trilogy but hey, each to their own right?

My rating system:

Overall: 3 and a half out of 5

Recommend to friends: 3 out of 5 – depends on the friend but I wouldn’t to most people I know unless they’re really “in” to literary fiction
Cleverness of the work: 4 out of 5
Great company on a rainy day: 3 out of 5
Stays with you: 4 out of 5

For a much more detailed and better put together review go here

Going to post this on my books, books, books page too.

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