Editor's Lit: The New York Trilogy by Paul Austere
Time Out says
RM35.50, Faber and Faber
Paul Austere’s characters are always searching for their respective identities and he introduced this style of his to the world through ‘City of Glass’, which was his (brilliant) debut novel and the first part of his ‘The New York Trilogy’. Each year after the first one was published in 1985, he churned out the other two parts which are ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The Locked Room’. Now, more than two decades later, the three are conveniently bundled together as an affordable paperback.
Known to have successfully marry Poe’s darkness, Kafka’s humor and Hitchcock’s suspense that result into his own narrative style, he kicks ‘City of Glass’ off with a call from a stranger asking for the author of the very tale he is writing. From then on, a number of events shape the surreal and puzzling tale that leads to the call receiver’s disappearance. Picking up from that, in ‘Ghosts’, a game of peek-a-boo or hide and I shall seek happens between a private detective and his target. The question here is, just who is watching whom? Finally, the nameless protagonist in ‘The Locked Room’ steps into the life his vanished writer-best friend should have lived and discovers how they both seem to be or exist within one another.
Don’t be intimidated by the mind-boggling surreal style of the trilogy though. The brilliance of Auster is in his capability of making you feel like you’re a part of the protagonists’ adventure, that you understand it all within the moment you’re reading the stories and unconsciously widen your imagination’s horizon as you’re being entertained. While all that’s well and good, the trick here is to find out if it all ties up in the end and if identities are found when lost and merged when separated. Or, could it be at some deeper level, they aren’t meant to? You’d need to tell me! Su Aziz
This book is available at any Borders book stores. For more info, see website.