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10 thoughts on “City of Glass / Ghosts / The Locked Room

  1. says:

    First, a brief harangue I can t help but noticing how often the word pretentious has been thrown around in the reviews for this book What a bothersome word pretentious It s a lot like the word boring, in that they both seem to fool the user into thinking that they mean something objective, when in fact they re highly subjective Nothing is inherently boring, just as nothing is inherently pretentious On the contrary, these words say a lot about the speaker than they do about the thing they re supposedly describing.What does it mean, then, when someone calls a book pretentious Let s dissect it What they really seem to be saying is this I didn t find meaning in this book, therefore anyone who claims to have found meaning is not telling the truth And this boils down to the following syllogism I am an intelligent reader therefore anyone who is also an intelligent reader will share my opinion of this book anyone who doesn t share my opinion, therefore, isn t an intelligent reader A valid inference, no doubt, but hardly sound This is because the whole argument hinges on one unavoidable fact that by using the word pretentious, one is implicitly assuming that they themselves are intelligent And everyone knows that only dumb people think they re smart.So hate on Paul Auster all you want Say that you found his plots predictable say that you found his characters unsympathetic say whatever the fuck you want But don t call his writing or his fans pretentious Because that s just being lazy And beyond that, it only makes you sound pretentious.City of Glass Speaking of coincidences I have this loose policy that whenever I m reading a book of fiction, I also read something non fiction and in this particular instance, City of Glass was counterbalanced by David Hofstadter s G del, Escher, Bach.Now, it is not my aim to create a sort of synchronicity between any two books I have on the go at any certain time In this case, my non fiction choice was based solely on the fact that the book was immediately available.And yet, I was surprised by a number of similarities that arose between the two First, both books explicitly mention the Tower of Babel in fact, if you have a copy of the Penguin Deluxe Classics edition of the trilogy, they both even display artistic renderings of it Both books also focus extensively on language in particular, its relation to reality But perhaps most importantly, both explore the notion of systems mathematical, artistic, etc , as well as what it means to operate outside of said system.For Hofstadter, this means the ability to interpret a system in a way that isn t explicitly contained within that system, which is a crucial tool for any mathematician or specifically, any meta mathematician And it s a crucial tool for Paul Auster the writer too In City of Glass, he creates a strange loop Hofstadter s term between the world captured by the narrative and the one inhabited by the reader, with no clear line between them the boundaries between what s real and what s fiction are masterfully blurred.Reading the novel, you almost begin to suspect that you were meant to be a character, that Auster probably viewed our world as identical or at least isomorphic to the one inhabited by Quinn, Stillman, et al And if that s not cool enough by the end of the novel, Auster turns the tables again, and you finish feeling like every symbol of the story has to be reinterpreted, like the entire piece has undergone a semantic shift.Brainy, deep, fun and highly recommended.Ghosts Reviewing these stories without spoiling them is kind of like trying to defuse a bomb one with a lot of colourful and potentially unnecessary trip wires So in order to minimize the risk, I m going to refrain from talking about any of the specifics of Ghosts, and instead focus on my general impressions of the novel.Here we are I think it might be even better than City of Glass No wait, that can t be right Because City of Glass was pretty fucking amazing Really, I don t know I was blown away by both Indeed, it s true that harboured the fear, from the opening few pages, that the second installment of Auster s trilogy would be perhaps a little too cutesy, with the colour names and all Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired by White to spy on Black But I should have by then been aware that Paul Auster does everything for a reason Or perhaps specifically, when he does something for no reason, it s always for a good reason.Anyways, what I m excited for now is finding out whether or not The Locked Room keeps up the trendThe Locked Room I forget exactly where, but I believe it s in one of his letters that Plato writes, your best ideas you don t write down or something to that effect What he means, I believe, is that truth has a tendency to avoid complete linguistic formalization, that it avoids ever being captured This concept or a similar one was at the core of City of Glass But with The Locked Room, Auster seems to be actually writing it, as opposed to just writing about it.This is because it s easy to see how things like the character of Fanshawe, his assorted sub textual works, the locked room, etc all map onto aspects of the novel itself And on a general level, this serves to comment on our notions of self hood, language and perception s of reality In this way, The New York Trilogy is a philosophy book disguised as a piece of literature And yet that s not entirely accurate, because it s hard if not impossible to imagine how it s contents could be conveyed in any other form than they are here.As Auster himself admits, the story found in The Locked Room is merely a facet of a larger one, one that permeates the entire trilogy With City of Glass, we were taken to the limits of language The Locked Room performs a similar feat less obviously, but perhaps significantly Auster gives us facts and he gives us names And from these pieces we construct entire characters Fanshawe, the unnamed narrator, even a Peter Stillman But what does this mean Who is Fanshawe We are made aware, for instance, of a stark disjunction between pre and post disappearance Fanshawe But with what authority can these two men be said to be the same person And is anyone ever really just one person Whenever you read a novel although perhaps this one so than most you are engaged in a gathering and compiling facts You are, for all intents and purposes, a detective picking up clues, discarding others as irrelevant And from these, you ultimately construct a cohesive narrative, a story If you disagree with this sentiment, just think to the Peter Stillman who appears near the end of the novel Who can help but wonder whether or not this is in fact the same Peter Stillman as was contained within the pages of City of Glass For we, as readers, cannot help but straying from the text, escaping from its finite world We draw connections, create links Never is the text a self contained entity Ever.And Auster, it appears, has a keen understanding of this So the question he seems to be asking is, what is the relationship between fact and fiction Between name and thing And when you finish the novel both The Locked Room and the trilogy as a whole , you come to realize that it the book is forcing you to ask the very same thing of itself.


  2. says:

    219 The New York Trilogy, Paul AusterThe New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster Originally published sequentially as City of Glass 1985 , Ghosts 1986 and The Locked Room 1986 , it has since been collected into a single volume.The first story, City of Glass, features a detective fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed author who reports the events as reality to Paul Auster the writer , a character in the story, to Paul Auster the detective , who may or may not exist in the novel, to Peter Stillman the younger, to Peter Stillman the elder and, finally, to Daniel Quinn, protagonist City of Glass has an intertextual relationship with Cervantes Don Quixote Not only does the protagonist Daniel Quinn share his initials with the knight, but when Quinn finds Paul Auster the writer, Auster is in the midst of writing an article about the authorship of Don Quixote Auster calls his article an imaginative reading, and in it he examines possible identities of Cide Hamete Benengeli, the narrator of the Quixote.The second story, Ghosts, is about a private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black.The Locked Room is the story of a writer who lacks the creativity to produce fiction Fanshawe, his childhood friend, has produced creative work, and when he disappears the writer publishes his work and replaces him in his family The title is a reference to a locked room mystery , a popular form of early detective fiction 2010 1384 455 9643691578 1386 1387 1392 20


  3. says:

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  4. says:

    Ma quanto bello pedinare e essere pedinati da Paul Auster


  5. says:

    I have encountered a great many reviews that start with I don t know how to begin this review By this claim the reviewer expresses doubt, but the expression of these doubts is the immediate solution to the reviewer s predicament, making both the doubts and the claim kind of moot I was thinking of starting off this review the same way, given that this book leaves you wondering about everything, but thinking about that as an option makes it also dishonest, because I would know where to start with this review Luckily I found a way around it so ta da, here we go, smooth sailing, no over explanation there at all This book is a particular kind of great It s unique in my view, but that s not saying much because my basis for comparison is rather small, so let me elaborate The New York Trilogy is comprised of three stories This is not surprising It makes sense This is also the point where the sense stops That big box of sense you re so comfortable in, all snug and cosy and warm This book is a bucket of cold water poured all over that adorable situation, making you jump out of the box, into a beautiful realm of wild and wondrous thoughts The book starts with the quirky idea of the first story s protagonist being called up by a person looking for Paul Auster Hmmm, where have I seen that name Daniel Quinn, a writer, the guy who has picked up the phone, decides to pretend he is in fact Paul Auster, a private investigator A rather cute idea which is only the beginning of the story, and of a trilogy that becomes a very intricate riddle, with questions of identity and purpose pervading it The author, the characters, the reader are all embroiled in these stories of stake outs, shadowing, minicious observations and carefully planned investigations and what starts out as a seemingly cute gimmick of having the author s name as part of the story turns into an adventure you yourself become part of You as a reader become the investigator You ll get clues, but without the guarantee you ll get all of them You ll get answers, but you ll have to find by yourself Paul Auster in bed, reading Paul Auster s novel, The New York Trilogy , in New York City, New York It s a book by Paul Auster, for Paul Auster, about several Paul Austers, including himself, Paul Auster, author otherwise known for rather austere writings.This book is immensely readable the prose employed makes this novel a page turner, the plot is always intriguing enough to keep one on his toes understatement of the year But it s difficult It s like a Rubic s cube, only without the guarantee that it s actually solvable To some readers, this is frustrating To me, the beauty of this book is that I couldn t solve its mystery, despite convincing myself I have identified some parts of answers and some threads that connect everything Paul Auster created one of literature s most beautiful riddles It s a bit of a magic trick and any kind of reveal given to you would ruin it, so I m not going to scour the Internet for solutions What I am going to do, is try and solve it upon a re read, but frankly I think I ll be a bit disappointed if I can The only reason I didn t give this five stars is because of the slight headache it gave me This was probably a bit self inflicted I always want everything to fit This book is like a puzzle box, but the pieces inside are from several different puzzles, none of them matching the picture on the box, and none of the puzzle sets being complete I tried stomping the pieces together, hence the headache I m planning to return to it and see if I can fill in the blanks somehow, this time without stomping on the pieces and without any headaches I know I ll enjoy it all over again, but probably a bit differently, knowing what I think I know This riddle nature of the book is what makes it so unique uniquely readable, uniquely challenging, uniquely re readable, uniquely enjoyable And very recommendable All that having been said, I really don t know how to finish this review.


  6. says:

    Is this 3 novels in one or a single Ah, well That s four Auster novels in a row for me and, interestingly enough, they were ALL very much alike Oracle Night, The Glass City, Ghosts, The Locked Room It s becoming clear that Auster has adopted very interesting themes, such as the transitory nature of fiction and reality the writer s world manifested in a literal form the double He writes in free flow and non sequiturs Yeah, I will be the first one to admit that almost always his conclusions are not concrete and they don t have to be and will even venture to say that with the exclusion of Timbuktu his endings are all incredibly inelegant But damn if he isn t readable Even the writer s ego, a quality I deem somewhat lame when personified in literature doesn t bother me Yeah, Auster is in love with New York, with the writer, obviously with himself But doesn t the saying go Write what you KNOW And Auster, perhaps not really knowing how his novels will EVER end, does do something very admirable He keeps the reader in a trance, submerging him her in a world completely constructed from the marriage of the writer s everyday experience and his almost visceral psyche.


  7. says:

    I think this was my first encounter with Paul Auster, a man who I met through the cult of the 1001 books to read before you die list Prior to that I was vaguely aware of Auster and his peculiar brand of love loath inciting literature which had friends alternatively raging or swooning, but had never bothered my arse to go and see what all the fuss was about Turns out I rather loved this once I had progressed beyond the first forty pages For the first forty pages I d already rather rudely pigeon holed the book as arty wank , thinking to myself, Oh dear this looks like it is entering into pretentious toss territory When I say entering I mean approaching the door marked pretentious toss and busting its way in using a battering ram made out of glued together copies of The Body Artist by Don DeLillo, then stepping over the wreckage of the door and striding to the middle of the room to stand on the podium of arty toss bollocks while waving its arms over its head. but nope, turns out it s all good Excellent trilogy, a study on the watched and the watcher in a sort of claustrophobic ever decreasing circles format which made my tiny mind spin, but in a good way, like the literary equivalent of an MC Escher drawing In a complete about turn I then had to remove the book from the arty wank pigeon hole and give it a little hug This was followed by me then going out to purchase pretty much all of Paul Auster s books Can t think for the life of me why I ve not bothered to review of them on Goodreads either This one is deserving of a place on the 1001 books to read before you die list just don t let the first forty pages fool you.


  8. says:

    So this is the New York trilogy I ve heard so much about I m at a loss for what to say, and not in the good way I feel incredibly underwhelmed.I can t even think of too many angry witticisms It s very bland High school students who were introduced to existentialism for the first time could produce better stuff When the narrative switched back to an ordinary mystery story again, I became interested, but the rest is just profoundly dull Language has meaning, you say And you make references to other texts The author searches for meaning Do tell You must be the next Ludwig friggin Wittgenstein Ah well Maybe I m being a bit harsh I ll try one of his later works and see what else he s done For now, I m not impressed.


  9. says:

    Where does it all begin and where does it all end But perhaps he would be able to make up for the past by plunging forward By coming to the end, perhaps he could intuit the beginning.To seek we must have an object we want to find To quest we must have a goal we want to achieve But even if we don t have an objective we seek and quest anyway because we want to penetrate into the future Listen carefully, and perhaps you will learn something In his little speech to Alice, Humpty Dumpty sketches the future of human hopes and gives the clue to our salvation to become masters of the words we speak, to make language answer our needs Humpty Dumpty was a prophet, a man who spoke truths the world was not ready for.How often pursuing a certain purpose we are on a wild goose chase And even if we find something how often ot is not a thing we were looking for.Every tale of the trilogy is an existential quest embarking on which one must find one s own ego There are the watched and there are the watchers and there are those who watch the watchers


  10. says:

    Further update, June 19th 2012.In response to several thoughtful comments that take issue with the nastiness of my initial review, I have come to the conclusion that the comments in question are essentially correct Please see my own response in comment 32 in the discussion And thanks to those who called me on this, apologies for my earlier vitriolic responses In general, I try to acknowledge the validity of other opinions in my reviews and comments, something I notably failed to do in this discussion I should have been civil, initially and subsequently.Update WELL, CONGRATULATIONS, PAUL AUSTER I wouldn t actually have thought it possible, but with the breathtakingly sophomoric intellectual pretension of the final 30 pages of City of Glass , you have actually managed to deepen my contempt and loathing for you, and the overweening, solipsistic, drivel that apparently passes for writing in your particular omphaloskeptic corner of the pseudo intellectual forest in which you live, churning out your mentally masturbatory little turdlets.Gaaaah Upon finishing the piece of smirkingly self referential garbage that was City of Glass , I wanted to jump in a showever and scrub away the stinking detritus of your self congratulatory, hypercerebral, pomo, what a clever boy am I, pseudo intellectual rubbish from my mind But not all the perfumes of Araby would be sufficient they don t make brain bleach strong enough to cleanse the mind of your particular kind of preening, navel gazing idiocy All I can do is issue a clarion call to others who might be sucked into your idiotic, time wasting, superficially clever fictinal voyages to nowhere There is emphatically no there there The intellectual vacuum at the core of Auster s fictions is finally nothing than that empty of content, devoid of meaning, surrounded with enough of the pomo trappings to keep the unwary reader distracted But, if you re looking for meaning in your fiction, for God s sake look elsewhere.And, please spare me your pseudoprofound epiphanies of the sort that the emptiness at the core of Auster s tales is emblematic of the kind of emptiness that s at the core of modern life Because that brand of idiocy butters no parsnips with me I got over that kind of nonsense as a freshman in college At this point in my life I expect a little from anyone who aspires to be considered a writer worth taking seriously.Which Paul Auster, though I have no doubt that he takes himself very, very seriously indeed, is not This little emperor of Brooklyn is stark naked, intellectually speaking.The only consolation is that I spent less than 5 for this latest instalment of Austercrap Gaaaah PASS THE BRAINBLEACH.Earlier comment begins below My loathing for the only other of Paul Auster s books that I had read the Music of Chance was so deep that it s taken me over ten years before I can bring myself to give him another chance But finally, today, after almost three weeks of reading only short pieces in Spanish, my craving for fiction in English was irresistible, so I picked up a second hand copy of The New York Trilogy in the English language bookstore here in Guanajuato.So far so good I m about three quarters through the first story of the trilogy and I m enjoying it, without actually liking it, if that makes sense Auster seems to owe a clear debt of influence to Mamet there s the same predilection for games, puzzles, and the influence of chance Thankfully, the influence doesn t extend to dialog, which Mamet has always seemed to me to wield clumsily, like a blunt instrument Auster is subtle, but he still holds his characters at such a remote distance, it gives his writing a cerebral quality that is offputting at times Thus, one can enjoy the situations he sets up and the intricacies of the story, without quite liking his fiction Who knows, maybe I will feel differently after I ve read all three stories


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City of Glass / Ghosts / The Locked Room The Remarkable, Acclaimed Series Of Interconnected Detective Novels From The Author Of 4 3 2 1 A NovelThe New York Review Of Books Has Called Paul Auster S Work One Of The Most Distinctive Niches In Contemporary Literature Moving At The Breathless Pace Of A Thriller, This Uniquely Stylized Triology Of Detective Novels Begins With City Of Glass, In Which Quinn, A Mystery Writer, Receives An Ominous Phone Call In The Middle Of The Night He S Drawn Into The Streets Of New York, Onto An Elusive Case That S Puzzling And Deeply Layered Than Anything He Might Have Written Himself In Ghosts, Blue, A Mentee Of Brown, Is Hired By White To Spy On Black From A Window On Orange Street Once Blue Starts Stalking Black, He Finds His Subject On A Similar Mission, As Well In The Locked Room, Fanshawe Has Disappeared, Leaving Behind His Wife And Baby And Nothing But A Cache Of Novels, Plays, And Poems.This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Includes An Introduction From Author And Professor Luc Sante, As Well As A Pulp Novel Inspired Cover From Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize Winning Graphic Artist Of Maus And In The Shadow Of No Towers.