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The Brooklyn Follies | [Paul Auster]

The Brooklyn Follies

Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstore, a far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York".
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Publisher's Summary

Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstore, a far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York". Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances, not to mention a stray relative or two, and leads him to a reckoning with his past.

Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes "to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man". But life takes over instead, and Nathan's despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others.

The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Auster's warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving and unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.

©2005 Paul Auster; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Auster has written a sublime soap opera about the ways in which people abandon and save one another. He captures a historical moment, our twisted America, and he offers a message of hope. Love will save us. We will save each other. Auster employs tough-guy talk and funny, believable stories of folly in his search for wisdom and goodness." (The Boston Globe)

"Probably the first authentic attempt to deal with the post--September 11 world . . . It is a multilayered tapestry, with whimsical chapter headings and Dickensian depth." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"A bighearted, life-affirming, tenderly comic yarn." (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (166 )
5 star
 (63)
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2 star
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4.0 (22 )
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4.0 (23 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Roni 04-12-07
    Roni 04-12-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Brooklyn IS Still the World"

    I was put off at first by what I thought was an unconnected series of vignettes about a self-pitying, self indulgent late middle aged white guy. But as I listened it became clear that Paul Auster had in fact captured not just a slice of life, but a fairly substantial cross section of it. That he set his story in Brooklyn, my home town, made this story all the more compeling to me, but even those who don't recognize the street names will recognize life's turns and the emotions they evoke as Auster describes them. By the end, I not only felt sympathy and kinship for Nathan Glass, the main character and narrator, butI felt as though Glass, and Auster, felt it for me.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LA 03-30-06
    LA 03-30-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a beautiful week"

    I have long loved Auster's books, but now I know that I have to listen to them, not just read them. I agree that 5 stars are not enough -- it has been completely satisfying listening to this wonderful book. The pacing provided frequent, unpredictable surprises. The reflections of Nathan on everything around and inside him are fresh, certainly not detached, and they moved me frequently. I was uneasy sometimes about everything moving to too many happy endings, but the unease was unwarranted. I'll certainly listen to this one more than once.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Giolas Salt Lake City, Utah United States 02-15-06
    John Giolas Salt Lake City, Utah United States 02-15-06 Member Since 2005
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    "One of America's Greatest"

    I love Paul Auster and "Brooklyn Follies" is one of Paul's best. Slightly less dark and troubling than the bulk of Auster's work, "Brooklyn Follies" is filled with characters that are believable and three dimensional, with all of the foibles and grittiness of real people. Character development is Pual's gift; no one in contemporary literature is his equal on this front. And like all of Auster's books, the prose is well crafted and beautiful. If you love the English language, you'll love Pual Auster. As a result of Paul's tidbits of literary trivia, I always come a away from his books wanting read other works he intelligently refers to. After "Oracle Night", I reread all of Dashiell Hammet's mystery novels. "The Brooklyn Follies" is required reading by anyone who calls himself literate.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 02-13-06
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 02-13-06 Member Since 2004
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    "5 stars are not enough"

    This is a fast-moving, engrossing, and thoroughly enjoyable novel. It starts as Nathan moves to Brooklyn, supposedly to die. He is rather alone in the world, ashamed of his failed marriage and of his estrangement from his daughter. As the story progresses, a vivid cast of characters is introduced, inluding Nathan's long-lost nephew and niece, his grand niece, an eccentric rare book dealer with a criminal past, and various other characters from the Brooklyn neighborhood. Nathan's involvement in their lives gives meaning to his own, and through unpredictable twists of plot, he is transformed into someone with a more positive outlook on life. Beautifully written and well narrated by the author.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Burke, VA, United States 11-04-09
    Deborah Burke, VA, United States 11-04-09
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    "An enjoyable and insightful book."

    I enjoyed this very much. It was realistic and timely, but I would have liked a better reader. I know it was read by the author, but he wasn't very good. His monotone was hard to listen to for 8 hours.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lkaufman 08-03-08
    lkaufman 08-03-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great book!"

    Ordered this almost at random, because it was on sale and I needed a listen.

    Great book, well written, well narrated. Highly recommend.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Long Branch, NJ, USA 01-28-06
    Alan Long Branch, NJ, USA 01-28-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As Surprised as I Am"

    One never knows. Confession: Considering myself literate, I have, nevertheless never "read" anything by Auster. Heard of him, but never read him. Wanted to get around to it, but not until now. Raised in Park Slope until I was eight, I hoped this tale would be the perfect introduction to Auster --a way to relate to him, to test him, to guage his worthiness. I'm hooked now.

    Not because of the Brooklyn connection but because of his communicativeness, his intelligence, and his effortless conversational story telling. (He's not a bad reader either.) He's neither afraid of the cliche nor the sublime (nor the crude either.) And the book is chock full of informational tid-bits, particularly of the literary ilk. Wonderful returns to Kafka and Cervantes, et al. (Although I was disappointed not to hear him include D. M. Thomas on his list of writers who died much too early.)

    Auster's characters are real and likable. (Even when improbable.) His sudden shifts from person to person, from unexpected incident to unpredictable result drive the story merrily along. It would be excellent to meet Nate again, to see who else he might come across, as his and Tom's lives continue on into the future. This is a story line that still has life in it.

    Who knows what Auster's other, earlier books may bring, but this here story sure is sending me to them. I can't wait to listen to another.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 03-18-12
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 03-18-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Redemption"

    I heard the voice of Nathan Glass as Paul Auster read his own words. Cannot imagine a more perfect tone. Pre 9/11 Brooklyn and indeed the USA is captured by Mr. Auster as he finds redemption from a life looking at his own naval. There is life and there is living. Nathan Glass lived but soon after moving to Brooklyn and reuniting with his beloved nephew he starts living again and listening to this story we rejoice in his great good fortune. There is a wild mix of characters well described and rounded out. We meet several real scoundrals, some strong women and a smart and sometimes smart ass little girl named Lucy who gives everyone a second chance. If you are looking for wild action and mystery this book is not for you. If you are anywhere right of moderate the politics in the book will turn you off. Nathan and crew are decidedly Democrat. However, if you are in the mood for a book in which things turn out all right this is for you. 9/11 happens just as the book ends. Good job Mr. Auster. Write more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-15-09
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-15-09 Member Since 2006

    If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Parts are great but it's an uneven book"

    Long sections of this book are compelling and thought-provoking. Auster is the rare writer whose narration is just right for his prose. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone, but big parts of the story are simply implausible, and that takes away from the whole.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lenore 03-14-12
    Lenore 03-14-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great story, would have picked a different reader"
    What made the experience of listening to The Brooklyn Follies the most enjoyable?

    The characters in this book were quirky and interesting, the story line was amusing, heartwarming and kept my interest. Occasionally the writing was a bit predictable, but never enough for me to lose interest.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I was drawn to the main character, likely because he narrates the story, but also because he assumes the all knowing, but flawed father figure. He appears as a gruff, no nonsense old guy who's been around the block, has a few regrets, but seems to have a head on his shoulders.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narrator sounded in voice like the character of the narrator, however I felt that his pace was a little off and found myself consciously


    Who was the most memorable character of The Brooklyn Follies and why?

    The most memorable character for me was not the main character, but a colourful, flambouyant bookstore owner whom we meet and enjoy for most of the middle of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this book, however I wouldn't vote it for any reading awards.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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