segunda-feira, 23 de julho de 2012
By Toby Olson
CITY OF GLASS The New York Trilogy. Volume One.
By paul Auster.
203 pp. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press. $13.95.
IN Paul Auster's remarkable ''City of Glass,'' the ostensible mystery drives from the book's odd and often strangely humorous working of the detective novel genre. The real mystery, however, is one of confused character identity, the descent of a writer into a laby-rinth in which fact and fiction become increasingly difficult to separate.
The city of the title is New York, the only truly constant character in the book, and it is the fate of this city to be walked through and interpreted by the writer Quinn and the philosopher and former convict Stillman. Quinn has been hired to follow Stillman, to prevent him from murdering his son. In the beginning the city is transparent, a place of light and air in which Quinn can stay outside of his mind's tortured concerns, concentrating on neutral details. Later is is reminiscent of that wasted city in Nathanael West's ''Miss Lonelyhearts,'' a place begging for interpretation and order. Always its reflects Quinn's and Stillman's search for arcane truth or psychological peace.
Quinn writes mystery novels under a pseudonym, and as ''City of Glass'' begins, with a wrong number, ''the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not,'' Quinn is drawn into an actual world of mystery where he begins to take on the characteristics of his fictional detective, Max Work. Early on, we learn what Quinn likes about writing mystery Novels and reading them: ''In the good mystery there is nothing wasted, no sentence, no word that is not significant.... Since everything seen or said, even the lightest, most trivial thing, can bear a connection to the outcome of the story, nothing must be overlooked.... The center of the book shifts with each event that propels it forward.'' * * * As the story of Quinn's case develops, taking up issues as diverse as language acquisitions and biblical history, both he and the reader find themselves in a world in which the possiblities of chance seem to be dissolving. ''Nothing must be overlooked'' here either. Each detail, each small revelation msut be attended to a significant. And such attention brings ambiguity, confusion and paranoia. Is it important that Quinn's dead son has the same name as Stillman? What can it mean that ''Quinn'' rhymes with ''twin'' and ''sin''?
One way in which ''the center of the book shifts'' involves the reader's discovery that the anonymous phone call Quinn receives is a call for the detective Paul Auster, the identity Quinn takes on as he enters the confusion of the case. When Mr. Auster himself enters the novel, we cannot even be sure who the author of this mystery might be.
In ''City of Glass,'' Mr. Auster's prose shifts its essence in the same ways that the accumulation of significant events shifts the reader's focus. At times the prose is transparent, at others it humorously calls attention to the mystery novel genre with light parody. ''The woman was thirty... hips a touch wide, or else voluptuous, depending on your point of view; dark hair, dark eyes, and a look inthose eyes that was at once self-contained and vaguely seductive.'' Always the prose moves with grace and sureness, and the reader is moved along briskly. Even in its difficult and complex discussions, the book is a pleasure to read, full of suspense and action.
''City of Glass'' is the first volume of ''The New York Trilogy.'' Though Mr. Auster is best known for his essays (''The Invention of Solitude'') and editing (''The Radnom House Book of Twentieth-Century French Poetry''), one can only wait with much anticipation for the second installment of this strange and powerful new adventure in his art.
Toby Olson's books include ''Seaview'' and the forthcoming novel ''The Woman Who Escaped From Shame.''
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 19:10