Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Brooklyn Follies
I love this book. It's one of the special ones. If you read my blog then you probably know that I'm a big fan of Paul Auster. He is my favourite American author though interestingly enough, he appeals more to Europeans.
Auster's novels are all told in the first person and most of them seem to have a similar main character. They're all intellectuals who love literature, classical music and classic films.They all struggle with the meaning of life, with past memories and how chance and coincidence play a pivotal role in our lives. It's not surprising that every time I read an Auster novel, I always imagine him as the main character. Maybe it's also because all his books carry his photo either on the back cover or on the 'about the author' page. So reading one of his books always feels like revisiting an old friend. I wrote more about Auster in my review of Invisible which you can find here .
It isn't so easy to write a synopsis of The Brooklyn Follies because there's no actual plot in this book. It's a book filled with a myriad of stories or episodes that happen to the main character. Nathan Glass is a dejected and recently divorced sixty-year-old man who moves to Brooklyn after undergoing cancer treatment. He doesn't know if he's going to live six more months or twenty more years so he decides to go back to the place where he was born and write a book about human follies. Very soon, he finds an odd assortment of friends in Brooklyn. Among them his long-lost nephew who is himself drifting and aimless and now working in a second hand bookstore. Together with his new found friends, Nathan embarks on a series of little adventures in Brooklyn and on a short road trip. He soon learns to live again and to take pleasure in the everyday things in life.
"What a pity that life ends, I tell myself, what a pity that we aren't allowed to go on living forever." (page 181)
I thought this was such a wonderful, wonderful book from start to finish. It had some sad parts but its still a happy novel at heart. A life-affirming book filled with beautiful passages and precious moments. Though it will be difficult to choose one favourite among all the Auster novels I've read, this is certainly one of them. It's brilliant and definitely a keeper.