Can she do it? We'll find out.
One of my 2010 reading goals – in addition to reading for my new Nonfiction Group and the Classics Group to which I belong, plus review books and the occasional random book from my own sagging shelves - is to read a book by authors whose names start with every letter of the alphabet.
Optimumly, these will be books by world writers, and not just those from English-speaking countries. But in this case I haven't managed that. My other ideal is making sure these are authors whose books I've never read before. Auster qualifies on that point.
My first book, and first finished in 2010, Paul Auster's Man in the Dark: A Novel.
A car accident and the death of his wife have left the retired book critic August Brill a physical and spiritual invalid. Virtually confined to his house with his recently divorced daughter and a twenty-three-year-old grandchild stricken with grief after the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Brill, an insomniac, attempts to stave off thoughts of death by telling himself bedtime stories. His tired mind weaves a tale that combines details of his life with more fantastic flights�such as the story of a man who, waking up in an alternate universe where 9/11 never happened and the 2000 election led to civil war, is sent on a mission to destroy the very person who has imagined him into existence. The narrative juxtapositions and the riddling starkness of Auster�s prose create an absorbing if mildly scattershot effect, breathing life into a meditation on the difference between the stories we want to tell and the stories we end up telling.
An excellent read. There's a bit of magical realism/fantasy thrown in – in the story the main character tells himself while his leg is mending – but don't let that scare you off if that's not your thing. It's not a focal point of the story. The strength is the book's lyricism, followed by character development. Plot is linear, but not as necessary as the other two elements.
Five stars out of five for this one, found serendipitously through this challenge.
What will my "B" read be? Stay tuned and find out…
David Grann – The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
Willa Cather – Death Comes for the Archbishop