Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book of Illusions

I've accepted the Blogging A to Z Challenge. All month, I'm going to blog about Books from A to Z.

I don't know how I first heard about Paul Auster, but it must have been about his New York Trilogy, which I bought and read and loved.

I remember him being described as a minimalist, and since I have a fondness for "minimalist" composers Philip Glass and John Adams, I thought I'd give a minimalist writer a chance.

Well, this led to me wanting to read more Auster, which led me to books like The Music of Chance which just mesmerized me. I adored the concept of men building a wall for almost no reason other than that they are told to do so.

I read more Auster. Moon Palace. LeviathanMr. Vertigo. About that time, Auster helped make a film, Smoke, which again contained an absolutely riveting image that I wanted to copy, to recreate in my own life, this time of a man who photographed the outside of his store every day, every single day, at the same time, for years. Years. It even made me want to take up smoking the little cigars, Schimmelpennincks, smoked by the characters. There's something about the prose, about the atmosphere Auster creates in his books, that really draws me in, like smoke I guess, penetrating my inner thoughts.
The Book of Illusions: A Novel
Time went by. Auster released a new novel, The Book of Illusions. I grabbed it and found it to be his most absorbing novel yet. The book tells of a depressed university professor who becomes obsessed with a series of silent films by an actor who disappeared in the 1920s. Auster practically shows us these films, creates such a rich world that you could believe these films existed. Again, the texture and feeling Auster creates is almost stronger than the plot per se. I can't tell you specifics about what happens in terms of story - mostly what I retain from this book is a feeling, a whole aura of something transitory yet real, something that I really have a hard time putting into words. Like the smoke filled cover of the novel, it's a work that envelops and then dissipates, leaving behind a lingering memory.

For no specific reason, I've only read one more Auster book since then (Oracle Night) even though he's published several novels in the last decade. Someday I plan to catch up. For Auster's world is singular and absorbing and filled with a feeling I yearn to re-experience.


Toby Neal said...

I am intrigued. I may even buy it. See, someone's reading your review!

Lara Zielin said...

Not up my alley but I like knowing what you're reading, and I also like Philip Glass too. So, see -- we really are Twinsies!