Thursday, January 10, 2008

XX. "The Book of Illusions" - Paul Auster

Made it to page 84 before becoming annoyed with the author's reference to "brilliant writing" - his own made-up biography.

David Zimmer's family dies in a plane crash; he becomes a walking dead man, convenient because he translates a French author's book as Memoirs of a Dead Man.

Perhaps it gets better, but I'd rather push forward.


Jason said...

These XX. entries are as instructive to me as the others. Keep that "life is too short" mantra active, and help us all avoid wasting time on shit.

Kristin Dodge said...

Excellent... they help me refrain from making the same mistake twice.

NTFSB - no time for shit books.

If someone has read a XX book (not XXX, you pervs) and liked it, I'd like to know, too. I'm all for second chances.

How's teaching going, Professor?

Shepcat said...

I'm a Paul Auster fan, and even I don't always understand where he's taking his readers in a particular work. I enjoyed The Book of Illusions very much — particularly for his invention of the silent film star Hector Mann — but a friend I gave it to as a gift was bored by it.

If you read enough Auster, though, you begin to see that most of his books follow a common theme of disconnected, obsessive characters trying to piece together the puzzles of their own lives. His work is often self-referential — many of his books feature characters based loosely on him; one features a character who encounters the real Paul Auster and his wife, Siri, at their Brooklyn apartment. His most recent novel, Travels in the Scriptorium, features an institutionalized man named Blank coming into contact with a number of characters from earlier Auster novels.

He's an acquired taste, I suppose, but reading his entire body of work gives one a greater appreciation for what he seems to be attempting from novel to novel.

If you don't have the patience for such an exercise, I highly recommend Auster's Mr. Vertigo, a picaresque tale of magical realism — about a levitating boy and his mysterious Hungarian mentor barnstorming across the Midwest in the 1920s — that stands apart thematically from most of his other novels. It's one of my very favorite books.

Kristin Dodge said...

Excellent... thanks for the tips, and I'll put them on my list.