Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ghosts by Paul Auster

Ghosts (The New York Trilogy #2) by Paul Auster
Published in America by Sun & Moon Press in 1986.

One of my More Than One Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Bought a paperback edition at a charity shop

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The New York Trilogy is perhaps the most astonishing work by one of America's most consistently astonishing writers. The Trilogy is three cleverly interconnected novels that exploit the elements of standard detective fiction and achieve a new genre that is all the more gripping for its starkness. It is a riveting work of detective fiction worthy of Raymond Chandler, and at the same time a profound and unsettling existentialist enquiry in the tradition of Kafka or Borges. In each story the search for clues leads to remarkable coincidences in the universe as the simple act of trailing a man ultimately becomes a startling investigation of what it means to be human. The New York Trilogy is the modern novel at its finest: a truly bold and arresting work of fiction with something to transfix and astound every reader.

I picked up a copy of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy at a charity shop and, having last month been pleasantly baffled by City Of Glass, went on to read the second story, Ghosts. I'm not sure whether this would be classed as a short story or a novella. It's just over 70 pages long. The story shares similarities with City Of Glass in that both are set in New York, feature a private detective as the central character, and prominently feature a character hired to watch another character. In Ghosts, the men are named for colours - Mr Blue, Mr White and Mr Black - and aren't described in any great depth of detail. I could tell them and their roles apart without a problem, but never got the sense of them as fully rounded people which was disappointing as I felt this prevented me from getting really immersed into this story. The eponymous ghosts are famous men - Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman and others - who had been associated with the street in which this story pans out, but as I haven't studied their work I couldn't realise exactly what the importance of their connection was. I didn't understand what Auster was trying to get at in Ghosts. The basic tenet of the story made sense, but the whys and wherefores unfortunately completely passed me by. I'm hoping for more success with the final story of the trilogy, The Locked Room, which I will be reading and reviewing soon.

Etsy Find!
by 3 wee birds in
the USA

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Books by Paul Auster / Mystery fiction / Books from America

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