The New York Trilogy

Paul Auster

I read this while I was in the UK recently, and it’s now several weeks since I got back, so details are already getting a little fuzzy. These three books, technically separate but subtly threaded together, have been on my list for a long time. Ostensibly detective novels at the start, each one devolves into surreal and existential mysteries of an entirely different meaning and those threads of similarities start to weave the narratives together in odd ways that sometimes don’t seem physically possible. Of course, that’s exactly what makes it so amazing.

I have the Penguin Classics edition with cover art by Art Spiegelman and a foreword by Luc Sante. Sante discusses the importance of absent texts — as he phrases it, “Fates pivot on these unread texts” — but what’s so compelling about them is the books themselves are texts written by characters (rather than an omniscient narrator). So there are just layers upon layers in the stories both in the ways the different narratives are mind-bogglingly pieced together and the manner the narratives are told, as well as the manner in which parts aren’t told.