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Nearly Relevant
Nonsense, Fiction, and Miscellaneous Things

'The New York Trilogy', Paul Auster
     The New York Trilogy1 by Paul Auster is a grouping of 3 mystery novellas; "City of Glass", "Ghosts", and "The Locked Room" into a single book.  Two of the novellas have a version of a literary minded narrator working a case on a 'for hire' basis, the third has a literary minded narrator helping a childhood friend's apparent widow.  
     The narrators also ruminate about Thoreau, Don Quixote, Milton's Paradise Lost, a fictional academic work, and more.  
The ruminative literary monologues - in their percipience and good conscience - have a spellbinding effect.  They made for interesting reading.
   Although the novellas are something of an homage - pastiche might be more correct - to the detective, mystery novel, it is wordplay - which I'll also refer to as lexical paradoxes - which is an important characteristic of the book.   
"White wants Blue to follow a man named Black and to keep an eye on him for as long as necessary.  While working for Brown . . . "2
"Fate in the sense of what was, of what happened to be.  It was something like the word 'it' in the phrase 'it is raining' or 'it is night'.  What the it referred to Quinn had never known.   [Boldface mine] 
Toward the bottom of the same page;
"And so he had received the call - which anyway had been destined for the wrong man.  It all made perfect sense."3  [Again, boldface mine] 
      One moment the 'it' is indeterminable, the next 'it' makes perfect sense.  The contexts are such that the 2 'its' refer to different things, but don't be fooled;  I feel fairly certain that the author is aware of and motivated by the seemingly paradoxical claims regarding 'it'.
     The lexical paradoxes had such an effect on me that when I read;

"Blue reaches for his hat, his coat, his muffler,  and boots . . . "4

     My first thought upon reading  'muffler' was that Blue had grabbed along with his hat, coat, etc. a 10 or 12 ft. long piece of bent metal tubing which sits under a car and channels exhaust gases.  Generally that would not have been my first thought.
     Two aspects of the book were problematic for me.
     Occasionally, the logic of the narrative seemed poorly founded. That is to say, the events weren't in keeping with the preceding narrative but were simply possible.   An 'anything is possible' school of suspense seemed to take over.   Yes, anything can happen but not every 'anything' is plausible and an 'Anything can happen' suspense leads to a verisimilitude of plausibility.  An obligation of plausibility in fiction was, occasionally, jettisoned for the easy suspense of possibility.  These occasional events seemed to suggest a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were at work as authors.   Things would seem to proceed rationally as I read - the Dr. Jekyll author -  and then, all of a sudden, something unfounded and rather unbelievable popped up - the Mr. Hyde author.    
     The book's conceit seems to be subjectiveness lacks certainty.
This conceit is made somewhat illogical as each novella ends with the protagonist portrayed, melodramatically, as
trying to retain, heroically, some semblance of understanding despite the seeming indifference of detective noir . . . er, I mean . . . of life or fate.
     My attempts to find a theme among the many motifs i.e. lexical paradoxes, literary sublimity,  plot mystery, etc. left me bedeviled and in a state of uncertainty.   The trilogy seems best suited for someone with an affinity for the puzzling aspects of life.
     Let me end with a digression;
     Post-modernism - which this book can claim as a literary style -  can seem to be eschewing classical, romantic, and modern literary styles.  The    'experiments', 'alternatives',  can seem to be attempting to supplant the classical, romantic, modern styles. It could be a useless struggle in which post-modernism is engaging badly, like a spoiled child.  Post-modernism seems to be insisting upon its version of poetic justice; It insists on being lauded beyond the classical, romantic, or modern styles.  You know,
those classical, romantic, modernists are dastardly fellows. 

1 The New York Trilogy; City of Glass, Ghosts, Locked Room, Paul Auster, ©1985, 1986, Penguin Goup, ©1987,1988, New York, New York,U.S.A.
2 Ibid, pg. 133
3 Ibid, pg.109
4 Ibid, pg. 138

Monday, August 10, 2015 11:48 PM by cenb
Thanks for yet another interesting read :)

I am currently reading "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (yep - I like children's classics). The following line, to me, is a classic in itself:

"Miranda Sawyer had a heart, of course, but she had never used it for any other purpose than the pumping and circulation of blood."
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 12:22 PM by GRSJR
Yes, that's a great sentence, especially in a kid's book. It's a good example of why I have a liking for fiction and literature too.
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