Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reading Journal: Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster (2008)

A bizarre novel in which the narrator, late in life and confronting family secrets at the urging of his grand-daughter, tells of the story he tells himself when trying to fall sleep, a story of an alternate future in which the protagonist must assassinate the author. It's a book that's clever in its use of layers and that's briskly written for the first two thirds, until the dream story ends and we conclude with the long family history that the protagonist was avoiding telling us about, followed by a twee reconciliation, or something, when the family members recognize their adjusted roles. Some people love Auster and others revile him, and I think his "split" approach in writing this novel would be one reason. It's a feat to yoke such disparate stories together, but at the same time it almost felt like he was forcefully joining two aborted novels. I enjoyed it until the surreal dream piece ended, then limped through the last 60 pages to the finish line. I'll likely try something else of his, but this was not an ideal introduction to this prolific author and it felt like a rather disposable work.

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