AUSTER, Paul (born 1947) US writer Auster’s first book, Squeeze Play (1982), was a pastiche of a crime novel and his key work, The New York Trilogy (1987, although the individual books appeared separately in 1985 and 1986 as City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room), is also a sly deconstruction job on the detective novel. The trilogy is a more complex narrative than Squeeze Play, one in which reader, author and sleuth seem to exchange roles in a strange kind of free-for-all. In the first segment, Quinn, a writer of detective stories, is summoned by someone who wants to get hold of a character called Paul Auster. Ghosts sees a detective named Blue hired by White to tail Black and, again, identities seem elastic and fluid. The third volume has the narrator following a friend, the writer Fanshawe, who has vanished, leaving behind not only his writing but also his wife and child. Before long, the mysterious Fanshawe is the one doing the following and the narrator the one being pursued.
Auster’s other novels include In the Country of Last Things (in which a woman searches for her brother in a crumbling, post-apocalyptic city), The Music of Chance (in which a professional gambler drifts across America winning and losing at cards) Mr Vertigo, Moon Palace, The Invention of Solitude, The Book of Illusions, Oracle Night and The Brooklyn Follies. The Art of Hunger consists of essays, largely on literary subjects. True Tales of American Life, edited by Auster, is a compelling selection of autobiographical accounts by ‘ordinary’ Americans.
Thematically & Stylistically Similar Books for Further Reading:
The Invention of Solitude. Robert Coover,
Ghost Town (undermines the Western genre just as Auster undermines the detective story); Don DeLillo,
Running Dog; Thomas Pynchon,
The Crying of Lot 49; Michael Chabon,
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; Cameron McCabe,
The Face on the Cutting Room Floor (very different in style and setting but also takes apart the conventions of the detective story to great effect).
Source Credits: Nick Rennison, Good Reading Guide: Discover Your Next Great Read, Bloomsbury Publishing, Seventh Edition