Friday, September 27, 2013

Man in the Dark

Man in the Dark
Paul Auster

First Sentence
"I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia, another white night in the great American wilderness."
Publisher's Description:
Man in the Dark is Paul Auster’s brilliant, devastating novel about the many realities we inhabit as wars flame all around us.

Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget—his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts the story of his marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death.

Passionate and shocking, Man in the Dark is a novel of our moment, a book that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence.

Dear Reader,

This is another wonderfully descriptive novel by Paul Auster. Some people don't like his style but I wholeheartedly adore it, maybe minus the reoccurring characters of cheating men (although maybe he writes what he knows?!? He is on his second wife). His books usually contain unusual situations with a heavy hand of existentialism. This novel is exactly that, it starts off with the main character telling a story in his head about a man who wakes up in a hole with little recollection of how he got there. The first half of this book deals mainly with this story within a story and you don't really learn about August Brill (main character) directly until you get closer to the end. What is unusual about this is that we actually do learn a little of Brill through his own story. You see... the story Brill creates in his head is about a man who must stop the Author (Brill) from continuing on with the story. Confused yet? Auster does a wonderful job with this and trust me... you really won't be confused at all (I'm finding it hard to describe since I lack the graceful way with words that Auster has).

The story within the story is finished halfway through the novel and the we continue with August Brill's reality (not the story). At first I was a little annoyed that the story seemed somewhat unfinished but the reason is there, you start to get it towards the end. I enjoyed both parts equally and by the time I was done with the book I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. One part of the book actually has a very graphic scene set in Iraq, one that shows the true horror of the war. It was quite hard to stomach and I'll admit it left me in tears.

I understand why August Brill was creating this story, he wanted to dream of a way to change the outcome of his current life. In the story he created in his head, the point was to stop the Author from changing history but wouldn't that mean the characters would then die? Those characters are imagined by Brill, so essentially by killing him... they would die with him. In Brill's reality we have a horrific event (in Iraq) that has changed his whole family and he uses this story to dream of what it would be like to write a different ending. Man, get your mind around that one! It's a fantastic story, both of them. This might be my favorite Auster book yet, I highly recommend it. Take note though, be careful to be in a good mind frame when reading this... I could see the potential it would have to screw with someone at the wrong time of their life. With that said....

Happy Reading,

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