The Book of Illusions

The Book of Illusions

by Paul Auster
4.2 13

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The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster



Six months after losing his wife and two young sons, Vermont Professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. One night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost film by silent comedian Hector Mann. His interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight in 1929.

When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer's mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico inviting him to meet Hector. Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312429010
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 509,026
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

PAUL AUSTER is the bestselling author of Travels in the Scriptorium, Oracle Night, and Man in the Dark, among many other works. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project Anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Brooklyn, New York

Date of Birth:

February 3, 1947

Place of Birth:

Newark, New Jersey


B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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The Book of Illusions 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
FocoProject More than 1 year ago
A bit of an old school read here, and by old school I mean, more mid 20th Century, not freaking Shakespeare, but you can definitely tell in the way tell in the way this book unfolds. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does have a bit of the slower pace that the older folks may feel more comfortable with and that the younger folks might get frustrated at. That is not a bad thing, you just need to learn to hone your patience and focus¿grasshoppah!

The story here is about a dude that is pretty much in the dumps. His wife and kids are dead, literally all of them left his life in the same tragic accident and he has figured that alcohol poisoning over the months will be the solution to his problems. That is until he decides to throw himself head first into a research assignment regarding an actor/director of the silent era, who is pretty much unknown. Working on it not because he is interested, but because he is postponing putting the bullet to his head by doing this, the dude pretty much puts together the kick-ass-most book regarding the subject. And wouldn¿t you know it, this man, whom they all thought was dead, given his mysterious disappearance, happens to be alive¿except¿well, now he is really dying. And then things really get good!

A very fun read, this one, but as I said, a bit old school in feel, sort of like reading Camus. Not that they have anything in common (or maybe they do and my ignoramus self does not realize it), but that is how it sort of felt, like reading The Plague all over again. The story unfolds sort of in two, the story of the dude writing the book and dealing with¿dammit I should just use their actual names. The dude is henceforth known as David and he is writing a book about Hector Mann, who was believed dead. And so you are getting two stories here for the price of one, the one in the present dealing with David and old Hector and the one in the past that examines the enigma that is young Hector and the interesting and unique life he has led. All in all a very worthwhile read, which may not have all the thrills you may want from a book, but gives an interesting insight on us humans and grief¿my only complaint, was the predictability on the love thing that happens between David and what¿sherface¿I saw it coming a mile away.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dear reader, I love Paul Auster. I just finished reading all off his novels. I wish I could meet him once and ask him questions. If something I am happy for that I speak English (my English is not to great. From my six years living in New York) is so I can read Paul Auster in the original version of the books words exactly as he wrote them. It was the best I ever got from my English learning experience. I can¿t say which novel I liked the most because every time I started a new one I found better than the last one. Maybe if I decide to read them again I¿ll do it in chronological order and see what happens. I can¿t wait for Brooklyn Foleys to came out. Here Paul, you have got one more typical fan of yours. Forever. Alejandro.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I wanted this book to go on forever. The descriptions of the movies and their maker were so real, as if you could go find them and see them. This book was a true work of art. BRAVO!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had pneumonia late last year, and, during those moments of extreme chill and fever, I picked this one up and managed to work my way through it in, oh, about a day or so. The story appealled to me as a fan of silent comedians, particularly Buster Keaton, and I had expected to find some parallel of that within this book. That is, the triumphs and treacheries that seep into a star's life between one film and another. And in a way, I guess I got what I expected, but there was so much more. In his book, Auster unwinds an odyssey within an odyssey Zimmer's story, and that of Hector Mann. Sad and surreal, this is definitely one worth picking up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Paul Auster that I have read. The title grabbed my attention, and when I found out that a lot of the action centered around a silent film comedian--I'm a huge Buster Keaton fan--I had to pick it up. I had a fever when I read it, so I can't really account for my emotional attachment. It was dark, and yet I couldn't put it down. It jibed with some of my personal philosophies, and yet it resonated with them in other places. Well thought out, and surprisingly epic for something so short. I reccomend this book, and that it's readers never contract pneumonia.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a perplexing book and completely different from the author's recent 'The Brooklyn Follies' (which is what prompted me to pick up more of his books). While I feel that some of the pages seem redundant and unnecessary, the story is really engrossing and I found myself unable to put it down. The story is written in such a way that the reader will find him/herself on a dramatic rollercoaster ride inside the head of the main character, Dr. David Zimmer. A really great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Paul Auster writes a masterful tale about a silent film star who dissappears from the scene following a bizarre turn of events, and the writer, a mournful college professor whose curiosity in this dissappearence allows him to learn to live life again. Anyone who likes good, intelligent writing will enjoy this suspenceful and heartening tale. The characters are fascinating and the take on how an artist views his own work within a context of overwhelming guilt is both tragic and powerfully real. By the end of the book one wishes the characters in this work of fiction were real and could be more fully experienced. BRAVO!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most avid readers, I think, secretly harbor the idea that they could write a successful novel. After reading this book, I am not so sure. The plot development, the flashback references, the circular twists all show the talent of the author. It is hard to believe that the films that are a central part of the story are not real. I am no film buff, but this is a must read for anyone who appreciates an author who did his homework.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Auster ought to be ashamed of himself. This book is such an obvious steal from Jonathan Carroll's wonderful novel THE LAND OF LAUGHS that it is embarrassing. Structurally, plot, characters... it is astonishing that Auster would have the chutzpah to do something this brazen at this point in his career. Not to mention his book is nowhere near as compelling and thought provoking as Carroll's earlier marvel. Raed this and then THE LAND OF LAUGHS and you'll see for yourself. Auster and Carroll have often been compared throughout their interesting careers and when you read these two books you'll see why. For my money, Carroll has always come out the clear victor.