City of Glass (The New York Trilogy #1)

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Overview

Nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, City of Glass inaugurates the intriguing New York Trilogy of novels that the Washington Post Book World has classified as "post-existentialist private eye...It's as if Kafka has gotten hooked on the gumshoe game and penned his own ever-spiraling version." As a result of a strange phone call in the middle of the night, Quinn, a writer of detective fiction and crime books, becomes enmeshed in a case more puzzling than any he might have written. New York ...

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Overview

Nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, City of Glass inaugurates the intriguing New York Trilogy of novels that the Washington Post Book World has classified as "post-existentialist private eye...It's as if Kafka has gotten hooked on the gumshoe game and penned his own ever-spiraling version." As a result of a strange phone call in the middle of the night, Quinn, a writer of detective fiction and crime books, becomes enmeshed in a case more puzzling than any he might have written. New York Times-bestselling author Paul Auster combines dark humor with Hitchcock-like suspense to City of Glass.

A mystery writer assumes a detective's identity and embarks on a bizzare case: he must protect a man from his criminally insane father, and as he follows the elusive criminal, he embarks on a mission that takes him to the depths of his own soul. Auster's In the Country of Last Things is being published this month by Viking.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
We don't know much about Daniel Quinn. We do know that he is 35, and that at one time he had a wife and son, who are now dead. He writes mysteries under the pseudonym of William Wilson, and when a stranger phones asking to speak to Paul Auster, Quinn decides to answer to that name too. The caller is Peter Stillman, a man with a most unusual past, who fears that he will be killed by his father, recently released from an institution. Quinn as Auster agrees to trail the elder Stillman, who spends his days wandering the streets of New York. How Quinn gradually becmes drawn intoand finally obsessed byStillman's life and psyche makes for a labyrinthine, intriguing story. An impressive if not major work by the author of The Invention of Solitude.October 14
Library Journal
Daniel Quinn, author of a series of de tective pot-boilers, accepts an assign ment as a real private investigator from a man who dials his phone number by mistake. His mission: to keep an eye on the man's father, a former linguistics professor who has spent time in jail for bizarre childrearing experiments. Quinn quickly loses track of both his client and the suspect, as well as his own apartment and belongings, and fi nally his identity. This metafictional mystery, reminiscent of Robbe-Gril let's anti-novel The Erasers, challenges conventional notions of character and plot. However, unless the remaining volumes of this projected trilogy pro vide more depth and substance, Aus ter's previous book, The Invention of Solitude, will probably remain the best introduction to his work. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140097313
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 4/1/1987
  • Series: New York Trilogy , #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 286,020
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The New York Trilogy and many other critically acclaimed novels. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Biography

Much later, when he was able to think about the things that happened to him, he would conclude that nothing was real except chance. But that was much later. In the beginning, there was simply the event and its consequences.

This sentence from the opening of Paul Auster's first novel, City of Glass, could also serve as a template for the author's career, both in circumstance and theme. City of Glass is perhaps the best known of Auster's postmodern detective New York Trilogy, which is rounded out by Ghosts and The Locked Room. Though the novels nominally involve cases to be solved, at base they are about the mystery of identity and how easily it can be lost or altered. In City of Glass, a mystery writer mistakenly receives a phone call for detective Paul Auster and assumes his identity, becoming embroiled in a case. The trilogy was a welcome breath of fresh air for both detective stories and postmodernist writing, and it put Auster on the publishing map.

Setting out to write his subsequent novel, Auster kept in mind the subtitle "Anna Blume Walks Through the 20th Century." The result was a woman's post-apocalyptic urban journey, In the Country of Last Things. Subsequent works such as Moon Palace, The Music of Chance, Leviathan, and Mr. Vertigo offered heroes caught up in strange worlds, playing out their stories over existential subtexts. The Music of Chance carries references from Beckett's Waiting for Godot in its story about a drifter who ends up teaming with a card player named Jack Pozzi to hustle two wealthy eccentrics in a fateful poker game. In Mr. Vertigo, a boy who has the ability to levitate goes on the road in the 1920s as "the Wonder Boy," moving through a panorama of pre-Depression America.

Auster's ability to blur the line between fantasy and reality has resulted in unique stories that never operate solely as good yarns. The New York Times wrote of Leviathan -- a dead man's coincidence-ridden story, as narrated by his friend -- "Thus in the literary looking glass of Leviathan, in which things are not always what they seem, our pleasure in reading the story is enhanced by the challenge of making other connections." Auster's fondness for allegory has earned him both praise for his cleverness and criticism from reviewers who, even as they praise his talent, occasionally find him heavy-handed.

The director Philip Haas adapted The Music of Chance for the 1993 film starring James Spader and Mandy Patinkin. But it was Wayne Wang who drew Auster to the movie business in earnest, convincing him to write the screenplay for 1995's Smoke, which was adapted from the short story "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." The film did well enough to get producer Miramax on board for a sequel bringing back star Harvey Keitel, Blue in the Face. This time, Auster not only wrote the script but co-directed with Wang; he later went full-fledged auteur with the 1998 film (also starring Keitel) Lulu on the Bridge.

In 1999, Auster made the unconventional choice of writing from a canine's point of view in Timbuktu -- although as Auster noted in the Guardian, Mr. Bones "is and isn't a dog." In telling the story of himself and his owner, a homeless "outlaw poet" named Willy G. Christmas, Mr. Bones offers a meditation on mortality, human relationships, and dreams. "If anything," Auster said in a chat with Barnes & Noble.com readers, "I thought of Willy and Mr. Bones as a rather screwball, nutty, latter-day version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the befuddled knight-errant and his loyal squire." The New York Times called Timbuktu his "most touching, most emotionally accessible book."

Auster earned some of his best reviews with his tenth novel The Book of Illusions, about a widower who develops an obsession with an obscure silent-film star and is surprised with an invitation to meet the presumed-dead actor. Book magazine called it "certainly his best...the book [has] the drive and dazzle reminiscent of the classic hardboiled yarns of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett."

Auster is an author who, in both his fiction and his nonfiction, rekindles hope for the romantic, the coincidental, and the magical in everyday life. He does this not with fantastic story lines but by heightening the significance of twists and coincidences that happen to us all the time -- if we approach things in a certain light, our lives become like movies. Auster spins the projector.

Good To Know

Auster's wife Siri Hustvedt, whom he met in 1981, is also a novelist and essayist; writing about her novel The Blindfold, the Village Voice Literary Supplement called Hustvedt "a writer of strong, sometimes astonishing gifts." Auster's first wife was writer Lydia Davis.

Desperately poor in the late '70s and working unhappily as a French translator to make ends meet, Auster wrote a detective novel called Squeeze Play to make some money. He also invented a card game called Action Baseball that he tried to sell to game manufacturers. However, Squeeze Play is "not a legitimate book," he told the Guardian; it was published under a pseudonym. Later, an inheritance from his father allowed Auster the financial freedom to focus more on his writing.

Auster has enjoyed a remarkably international following, even in the days before his Hollywood projects raised his profile; his novels have been translated into several languages, and web sites from Germany to Japan pay him homage.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Paul Benjamin
    2. Hometown:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 3, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newark, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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