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Oracle Night | [Paul Auster]

Oracle Night

Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, 34-year-old novelist Sidney Orr enters a stationery shop in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, trapped inside a world of eerie premonitions and bewildering events that threaten to destroy his marriage and undermine his faith in reality.
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Publisher's Summary

Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, 34-year-old novelist Sidney Orr enters a stationery shop in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, trapped inside a world of eerie premonitions and bewildering events that threaten to destroy his marriage and undermine his faith in reality.

Why does his wife suddenly break down in tears in the backseat of a taxi just hours after Sidney begins writing in the notebook? Why does M.R. Chang, the owner of the stationery shop, precipitously shut down his business the next day? What are the connections between a 1938 Warsaw telephone directory and a lost novel in which the hero can predict the future? At what point does animosity explode into violence? To what degree is forgiveness the ultimate expression of love?

Paul Auster's mesmerizing eleventh novel reads like an old-fashioned ghost story. But there are no ghosts in this book, only flesh-and-blood human beings, wandering through the haunted realms of everyday life. At once a meditation on the nature of time and a journey through the labyrinth of one man's imagination, Oracle Night is a narrative tour de force that confirms Auster's reputation as one of the boldest, most original writers at work in America today.

©2003 Paul Auster; (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Artful, ingenious...both a darkly suspenseful domestic drama and a moving meditation on chance and loss....Auster's unique genius is to make the absurd coherent; his stories have a dreamlike, hallucinatory logic." (Publishers Weekly)

"Auster has a droll, almost twangy, voice, which he uses to good effect....Oracle Night is likely to be revered by Auster's many fans." (AudioFile)

"[Auster] shines as a fabulist and tale-teller, putting a high-modernist gloss on noir." (The New Yorker)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (64 )
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  •  
    Dean Richardson, TX, USA 09-20-05
    Dean Richardson, TX, USA 09-20-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Master Speaks"

    Another excellent work from one of our finest novelists. Of particular note is the fact that Auster himself reads the text. I have read most of his books and have never heard his voice. It was very gratifying. If you like serious fiction with moderately challenging structures this is for you. If you like action films and predictable plots you should go for something else. Auster is a great contemporary artist.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail San Diego, CA, USA 03-06-06
    Gail San Diego, CA, USA 03-06-06
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    "Unusual but unsatisfying"

    "Oracle Night" is a patchwork quilt of stories within stories within stories. Like one of his characters, Mr. Auster appears to have gone through some of his old notebooks and found some story ideas that do not work out and included them here. While there are some moments when deja vu and coincidence combine to produce a chilling, supernatural effect, for the most part, the story is rather silly. I did not care at all what happens to these self-absorbed, incomplete characters who seem to act in some kind of existential nightmare where nothing makes any sense. Mr. Auster is not a gifted reader and his pace is so slow that I often found my attention wandering. Since two of the main characters are writers, perhaps this is more of an insider's story. It seems that the author, in an attempt to make up something interesting in an otherwise mundane life, has gone too far and created an unbelievable world that leaves the reader wishing for the nonsense to end.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hallie south hiram, ME, USA 06-14-06
    Hallie south hiram, ME, USA 06-14-06
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    "loose ends"

    While this story has many intriguing mysteries, most are not fulfilled. Some of the main character's experiences are surreal; creating a doubt as to whether these are actual or something more mysterious. Unfortuanately we are not treated to further developments nor conclusions. At one point I began to wonder if anything was going to happen as the pace of the book began to lag. I was waiting for some of the questions to be answered. The punch of the story is at the very end and very real. I'd check out other books by this auther, but would read reviews first.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Chatham, VA, USA 04-01-08
    James Chatham, VA, USA 04-01-08
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    "Stellar"

    Having listened to Auster's The Brooklyn Follies, and The Book of Illusions, Oracle Night proved to be another gem. Auster, like Lawrence Block, is the perfect author/reader; well paced, understandable, and adding that something extra to the experience.

    His stories often highlight those unexplainable moments and circumstances that many experience in their lives. Oracle Night is a tapestry, a story within a story, within another story. Entertaining, provocative, well worth the time. Auster, I think, intentionally does not 'finish' some of the sub-stories, allowing the reader/listener to develop their own ending.

    An enjoyable, thought provoking literary and aural experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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