Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I was thinking about Paul Auster’s books that I have read and wondering why I like them so much. His books seem to pick up on a number of themes - such things as elusive fathers, identity, storytelling, stories within stories, fairytales, alienation, loneliness, coincidence, failure. Many human themes.

If I was to base my decisions on whether to read his books on the descriptions on the back of the books I don’t think I would be tempted to read any of them though. The descriptions always seem to make the books sounds very elitist and inaccessible, but they are actually very readable and engaging.

The description on the back of Moon Palace says:

"I was the summer that man first walked on the moon. I was very young back then, but I did not believe there would ever be a future."

Spanning three generations, Moon Palace is the story of Marco Stanley Fogg and his quest for identity in the modern world. Moving from the concrete canyons of Manhattan to the cruelly beautiful landscape of the American West, it is a meditation on and re-examination of America, art and the self, by one of America's foremost authors.”

The description on the back of The Music of Chance says:
'By the time Nashe understood what was happening to him, he was past the point of wanting it to end...'

Paul Auster fuses Samuel Beckett and The Brothers Grimm in this brilliant and unsettling parable.

Following the death of his father, Jim Nashe takes to the open road. But there he picks up Pozzi, a hitchhiking gambler, and soon after is drawn into a dangerous game of high-stakes poker with two eccentric and reclusive millionaires...”

Are those the types of book I like to read? Nope. But the books are really good.

In Moon Palace, which I read while I was on holiday last week, I was struck by a passage in it. A passage that to me seems to be infused with hope and wonder and uplifts me just by reading it and so I share it with you.

"That was how I finally came to be rescued: because the two of them went out and looked for me. I was not aware of it at the time, of course, but knowing what I know now, it is impossible for me to look back on those days without feeling a surge of nostalgia for my friends. In some sense, it alters the reality of what I experienced. I had jumped off the edge of a cliff, and then, just as I was about to hit bottom, an extraordinary event took place: I learned that there were people who loved me. To be loved like that makes all the difference. It does not lessen the terror of the fall, but it gives a new perspective on what that terror means. I had jumped off the edge, and then, at the very last moment, something reached out and caught me in midair. That something is what I define as love. It is the one thing that can stop a man from falling, the one thing powerful enough to negate the laws of gravity."


Kahless said...

Yes, the summary on the back makes the book sound rubbish. The excerp is great. Not sure the book is my cup of tea though.

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - yes the back of the books are rubbish and would make me totally steer clear. But the books are good and worth a go...