The New York Trilogy: City of Glass/Ghosts/The Locked Room

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Overview

Paul Auster's brilliant debut novels, City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room, are here collected for the first time in the United States. These three novels brought Auster international acclaim for his creation of a new genre, mixing elements of the standard detective fiction and postmodern fiction. City of Glass combines dark, Kafka-like humor with all the suspense of a Hitchcock film as a writer of detective stories becomes embroiled in a complex and puzzling series of events, beginning with a call from a ...
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The New York Trilogy: City of Glass/Ghosts/The Locked Room

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Overview

Paul Auster's brilliant debut novels, City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room, are here collected for the first time in the United States. These three novels brought Auster international acclaim for his creation of a new genre, mixing elements of the standard detective fiction and postmodern fiction. City of Glass combines dark, Kafka-like humor with all the suspense of a Hitchcock film as a writer of detective stories becomes embroiled in a complex and puzzling series of events, beginning with a call from a stranger in the middle of the night asking for the author — Paul Auster — himself. Ghosts, the second volume of this interconnected trilogy, introduces Blue, a private detective hired to watch a man named Black, who, as he becomes intermeshed into a haunting and claustrophobic game of hide-and-seek, is lured into the very trap he has created. The final volume, The Locked Room, also begins with a mystery, told this time in the first-person narrative. The nameless hero journeys into the unknown as he attempts to reconstruct the past which he has experienced almost as a dream. Together these three fictions lead the reader on adventures that expand the mind as they entertain.
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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Examiner
Twists, turns and falls back on itself like a literary Mobius strip —by turns curious and surprising and always fascinating.
Publishers Weekly
Joe Barrett has the low, gravelly voice of old detective movies. His phrasing is good, his characterizations clear and dramatic, and his rendering of Kafkaesque mysteriousness draws us deeper and deeper into this peculiar, interconnected trilogy. Auster’s first novel purports to be a set of detective stories, but each pretzellike section twists into a search for identity--particularly that of the author. Fans of postmodern fiction will love Barrett’s reading, but even more skeptical listeners might still be intrigued by Auster’s medium and message. A Picador paperback. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143039839
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
  • Edition description: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
  • Edition number: 60
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 173,201
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Auster

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

Table of Contents

The New York Trilogy City of Glass
Ghosts
The Locked Room

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 36 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2003

    Trite and thin

    I read this based on both the blurbs and the reviews. I should have known better. I wonder if I read the same book as the others who have raved about this -- the 'twists' and turns were obvious, the characters were completely disposible and mostly irrelevant -- none had any depth. The stories -- each had potential, but it seemed as though he got tired halfway through and then gave it an obvious escape clause and typed 'the end.' None of these stories gave me much pause about the nature of identity, the sense of self, etc that others claim -- that may mean that I'm too dense to see the questions, or the questions presented here were the one's that occurred to me when I was 16 and had a bong attached to my face... The last story was the best of the lot, but it too collapsed at the finish line. Too bad. Overall, the stories were well concieved, poorly written, sparsely populated with thin characters about whom we care little, and ultimately trite. If you want a thriller that posses good questions about identity, reality, and sense of self, try Crime and Punishment, by Doestoyevski. That is a great story.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2003

    Add this to your permanent collection!

    This book has the rare combination of qualities that qualify it as re-readable. There is enough fibre to it to allow digestion to occur over a long period of time, and each reading will reveal new perspectives. <p> If at first you're confused and think you've stumbled onto some sort of high-art form of detective novels, you've basically got the right idea. Fortunately, Auster goes much deeper, weaving an intricate and complex thread throughout the stories of this trilogy. Though each can stand on the strength of its tale on its own, together they form a triptych which forces you as the reader to continually refer to each portion again and again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2002

    Good stuff.

    Paul Auster writes books that define the human psyche. A writer sets out to discover the truth about someone and, instead of unraveling the mystery, learns more about himself than he can imagine. By reading this book, you will also discover what lies deep within your mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    the writer as detective

    This book blew me away. Read it. Auster's voice is so likeable, readable, in all three stories. He writes an intellectual noir, where the setting is not Chandler's L.A. or, ultimately, even New York, but rather the novel itself. The act of creativity, writing in particular, is likened to solving a mystery. The private eye's search for answers mirrors the writer's search for a story, even an identity. There is so much intentional blurring of the two worlds, so many levels on which the 'fictional' confronts the 'real' space which exists outside the parameters of the story, that the journey through the book is pretty breathtaking. If it sounds heady, or even pretentious, it isn't. Just a great, great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Out of the Ordinary!

    Suspenseful, the twist and turns keep you guessing all the time where the stoy will lead you to. I originally got hooked on Paul Auster with Man in the Dark. His writing style has a unique way of drawing you into the story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    nice, but...

    I think people tend to take Auster too seriously. Auster writes nice, interesting books, but he never was or will be a great writer. This I say despite the fact that he tries to portray himself as so ¿ using intertextuality, complex narration, brooding and "deep" imagery - and this is his problem ¿ he does it as an amateur. It seems to me that Auster made his homework and read the masters, however, not hard enough. He doesn't have what they have, or have so little of it, yet he approaches writing as if he was one, and the result is dissatisfying. He is simply not Kafka, or Henry James, or even Salman Rushdie or Coetzee. For those of you who have some background, reading serious stuff ¿ and those who've done it know what I'm talking about ¿ stay away or you'll be disappointed. For others, who would like to enjoy more than average level of writing ¿ enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2000

    A little too gloomy

    Paul Auter's writing style is outstanding. However, I was very disappointed by the ending of the first story, which I found unecessarily pessimistic. I went on with the second story : again, the ending spoiled it all. I wouldn't recommend the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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