Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

The_Brooklyn_Follies_bookcover

Existence was bigger than just life. It was everyone’s life all together, and even if you lived in Buffalo, New York and had never been more than ten miles from home, you were part of the puzzle, too. It didn’t matter how small your life was.

Three days ago I was waiting to have a blood test in a crowdy hospital when I took this small book out of my bag. The night before a friend had given it to me as a present but now I had to wait for three hours and was so desperate that had no confidence in the entire world, Paul Auster included. The queque for the registration desk was one hundred and sixty-two people and it took me half an hour of self-sabotage to accepted that perhaps I had the Elixir. I thus opened The Brooklyn Follies and… yes, the Magic happened.

I hadn’t read Paul Auster for many years but I found a small gem designed by a consummate master. It is a delicious, captivating novel about this very subject: what happens when we decide to hung up our boots? What happens when we arbitrarily state that our life has somehow ended while we are queuing up for the registration desk?

The plot flows smoothly but under the surface everything reveals a deep perspective. For example, the names are metaphors of changements, fractures, and reconciliations between the various parts of the human self. Nathan Glass comes to Brooklyn to die but he finds his lost-long nephew Tom Wood. Tom has abandoned his university career and a too much demanding dissertation on imaginary worlds and the dichotomy Edgar Allan Poe versus David Henry Thoreau. He is now working in a small bookshop owned by charismatic Harry Brightman, whose name was once Harry Dunkel (dunkel is the German word for dark) but when Nathan arrives, times are ready to redesign that particular inner world that all of us have once built to face the lashes of life. The three men are dreaming of past life and failures. But what is life, actually?

If you want to give yourself a book by a great writer but at the same time a delicate, apparently light novel… Brooklyn Follies is for you. It will gently reminds you of your priorities and of what hides just behind the corner, what lies under the surface of everyday life.

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