Paul Auster's brilliant debut novels, City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room brought him international acclaim for his creation of a new genre, mixing elements of the standard detective fiction and postmodern fiction.
City of Glass combines dark, Kafka-like humor with all the suspense of a Hitchcock film as a writer of detective stories becomes embroiled in a complex and puzzling series of events, beginning with a call from a stranger in the middle of the night asking for the author - Paul Auster - himself. Ghosts, the second volume of this interconnected trilogy, introduces Blue, a private detective hired to watch a man named Black, who, as he becomes intermeshed into a haunting and claustrophobic game of hide-and-seek, is lured into the very trap he has created.
The final volume, The Locked Room, also begins with a mystery, told this time in first-person narrative. The nameless hero journeys into the unknown as he attempts to reconstruct the past, which he has experienced almost as a dream. Together these three fictions lead the reader on adventures that expand the mind as they entertain.
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©2006 Paul Auster; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Auster harnesses the inquiring spirit any reader brings to a mystery, redirecting it from the grubby search for a wrongdoer to the more rarified search for the self." (New York Times Book Review)
"Eminently readable and mysterious.... Auster has added some new dimensions to modern literature and - more importantly even - to our perspectives on the planet." (Boston Globe)
"By turning the mystery novel inside out, Auster may have initiated a whole new round of storytelling." (The Village Voice)
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
REVIEW 1: City of Glass
An interesting PoMo novella. Auster's first novel/second book/first of his 'New York Trilogy', 'City of Glass' is simultaneously a detective novel, an exploration of the author/narrative dynamic, and a treatise on language. I liked parts, loved parts, and finished the book thinking the author had written something perhaps more interesting than important.
My favorite parts were the chapters where Auster (actual author Auster) through the narrator Quinn acting as the detective Auster explored Stillman's book: 'The Garden and the Tower: Early Visions of the New World'. I also enjoyed the chapter where Auster (character Auster) and Quinn (acting as detective Auster) explored Auster's (character Auster) Don Quixote ideas. Those chapters reminded me obliquely (everything in City of Glass is oblique) of Gaddis.
In the end, however, it all seemed like Auster had read Gaddis wanted to write a PoMo novel to reflect the confusing nature of the author/narrator/translator/editor role(s) of 'Don Quixote', set it all in Manhatten, and wanted to make the prose and story fit within the general framework of a detective novel. He pulled it off and it all kinda worked. I'll say more once I finish the next two of the 'New York Trilogy'.
REVIEW 2: Ghosts
An uncanny valley of Gaddis IMHO. 'Ghosts', the second book in Auster's 'New York Trilogy' reminds me what I both like and don't like about MFA writers. Often clever and grammatically precise but they don't say so much. If they were painters their perspective would be perfect and their posters would sell, but the pigment or texture or something between the edges is just missing that undercurrent of something to give a real shit about.
REVIEW 3: The Locked Room
Not much to add that I haven't already written in my reviews of Auster's first two 'New York Trilogy' novels. In 'The Locked Room' Auster dances with the same themes, with slightly different variations. The novellas are more brothers to each other instead of cousins. In a lot of ways he reminds me of an earlier generations' Dave Eggers. There is definitely a lot of talent latent in the guy. He certainly can write, but unlike Fitzgerald who was able to tell a similar themed story in his novels and still provide weight. I just didn't feel the gravity. It was like Camus couldn't really decide whether to kill the Arab, didn't know if he cared or not, so he just walked around killed himself but made the Arab watch.
I don't know. That may not be right. I'll probably just delete this review anyway. Only Otis will read it and I've asked him to delete all my reviews he doesn't like anyway. How do I guarantee this? Well, I could talk about Otis. I could tell you that there are things about author Auster, unrelated to his books I just don't like (who lives in NY Anyway?). He is a bad behaving author (untrue). He keeps sending me his manuscripts and wants me to say nice things about his work (untrue). I don't know. Is Auster married? Maybe, I'll go and console his wife now.
I would recommend this book but only to a reader with a great deal of patience. The story takes chapter upon chapter to get going. It starts out well, then falls flat, picks up again, then falls flat, then takes off and remains quite interesting. But that occurs in the second part. So if you can survive the uneven-ness of the first part - you should be alright. I wasn't inamoured of the narration either. Well Mr. Barrett has a pleasantly relaxing style - I found it maybe too relaxing and sometimes much drabbly monotone. He was putting me to sleep - or maybe it was the story. Maybe it's not my cup-o-tea.
I don't blindly scatter 5 star reviews around, but this audiobook gets top marks. I'd heard people talk about this book for years, but never read it. Not everyone was complimentary, but even the detractors conceded that it had a certain elusive narrative quality that set it apart.
I finally bought the audiobook about 18 months ago, and have just listened again to the whole thing, for the 3rd time now.
Art, including literature, and including audiobooks, is totally subjective -- it barely needs saying. So there is no criticism or sneering from me towards anyone who doesn't enjoy this audiobook, and/or this story. But I must say that for me, an audiobook fan, New York Trilogy is the best. The narrative, weaving through reality and delusion, is both thrilling and disturbing, and so evocative of hidden corners of our our own lives. The clincher though is the magnificent narration. I say without hesitation that the world-weary tones of Joe Barrett turns from a very good book into a magnificent audiobook.
Auster's New York Trilogy is excellent literature; not for the faint of heart and perhaps not for fans of typical popular fiction. Labeling this work "postmodern detective fiction" does it a certain disservice. Surreal and strange, Auster's three stories blend well but City of Glass is surely the standout. If you like Kafkaesque characters and scenarios, fiction and plot lines which blur and bleed between stories and out of the pages, and dark unsettling cityscapes; Auster's masterpiece will be right up your proverbial alley.
Joe Barrett's gruff detective-style voice was seemingly hand-picked by Auster himself. Great stories, great reading. Highly suggested.
"Not very enjoyable"
I found the stories in this trilogy to be muddled hodgepodges of different genres, all pushed together to 'explore' the character' (or author's) angsty need to find themselves. I know this is supposed to be a literary classic, and possible the allusions just went over my head, but I found it boring and could not care about any of the characters, all of whom seemed self-obsessed, whiny, and slightly unhinged. The reader was okay, although I got worried during the long passage where Peter Stillman has a monologue, as it was delivered in a really strange voice. This did seem to fit with the description of the voice though, so I suppose he was just trying to do the text justice.
"Well read, well written, but very, very slow"
If I'm honest, Joe Barret's is a safe pair of hands, and his reliable narrative carries this novel. Paul Auster's use of language is sound, and most of the plotting is acceptable, even a little clever in places, but the overall novel itself falls an awful long way short of living up to those aspects.
I would expect the three short stories involved to cleverly intertwine, the actions in one causing unexpected effects in the others. They don't do this to any significant degree, if at all They stand alone, and none are particularly engaging. But the worse thing is the pace. It seems to have been drawn out, sometimes a little painfully, to fit into the page count. I was waiting for it to end, and never really felt it did. It just sort of stopped.
Why has no one else reviewed this; it is really wonderful, both Paul Auster's writing and Joe Barrett's reading - I found it totally absorbing and enchanting.
This is probably one of the hardest text to read, yet it is superbly done as an audio book! Paul Auster's brilliant writing is coming alive thanks to this fantastic rendition.
Well done, thank you!
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