Two and a Trilogy

The Brooklyn Follies The New York Trilogy The Iron Council
I’ve been coming across Paul Auster books for a while now, and many people recommended his work a while back, so The Brooklyn Follies was my company for my daily commute during January. Auster is, indeed, an interesting writer, not necessarily due to his subject matter, but rather in terms of how he goes about addressing it – the story is more of a “meta-book” than the portrayal of the events that involve a loosely bound set of people who happen to be family (and even then, who change their notion of belonging to a family throughout the plot). It is distinctly odd, yet captivating – and with an undercurrent of unrest and wry humor that makes it a solid read. A few weeks later I picked up The New York Trilogy and realized that Auster likes to take his “meta-book” approach a tad too far. In all three stories of the trilogy there is a steady decline of purpose, plot and focus that I found unnerving and hard to deal with, as the characters’ introspection takes over (and completely hijacks) the plot. It can arguably be said that it is the introspection itself (and the characters’ thought processes) that matters, but on the whole I found the experience put me off a bit (I am introspective by nature, and being able to pick apart the subtle mechanisms by which Auster intended to make me identify with his characters’ turned the whole thing into a feedback loop of sorts). This is my third book by China Miéville, and it does not disappoint. Set in his peculiar alternate universe and mixing times of turmoil (both personal and national) with the challenges of setting up a railway in his peculiarly complex universe, it branches out into intricate sub-plots tracking characters’ progress in his usual sumptuous prose, peppered with references to the odd angles to reality and strange backdrops that they move in (or against). Thoroughly entertaining, extremely engrossing, and one of the reasons I have spent so little time online of late.

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