Sunday, January 23, 2011

Completed: The Brooklyn Follies

Two down, ten to go! I read Paul Auster's The Brooklyn Follies last week. Up until about a year ago, I'd never heard of Paul Auster. Then his name started popping up everywhere. I got The Brooklyn Follies through my online book swap, Paperback Book Swap, so I could try him out.

It was a very quick read in part because it was so entertaining. I really liked the book. If you haven't read Auster, I would describe his style as a fair amount of Richard Russo mixed with a bit of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series and the farce of Toole's The Confederacy of Dunces mixed in.

This story is told from the perspective of Nathan Glass, a 60-ish man recovering from cancer and a divorce who has recently moved to Brooklyn to pick up his life. It is set in 2000-2001. You can tell from the tone of his interactions with his daughter and the nature of his divorce, that he is a bit prickly, was not a great husband, sometimes thinks too highly of himself,  and could seriously benefit from some introspection and soul searching.

Nathan's life in Brooklyn becomes interesting when he wanders into a used bookstore and is reunited with his favorite nephew with whom he has lost touch for many years. Through the nephew he develops other relationships and his world expands. Nathan reviews the incidents and relationships in his life with humor and openness and ultimately becomes a better person.

Auster weaves a good tale with plenty of humor and drama, love and relationships, quirky but lovable characters and ultimately provides a sensitive portrayal of the frailty of humanity. I will read more of Paul Auster.

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