Sunday, October 28, 2007
If anything, one of the most complex books you'll ever read, and something any Murakami fan should read, for, in the words of a respected Murakami fanclub elder, "more Murakami than the man himself."
Paul Auster enjoys transcending the theme of metafiction, frequently slipping himself into his work; that gives this trilogy (each novella numbering a good hundred pages) a rather personal, mystical feel.
The first novella, City of Glass is a detective story turned psychoromp, where the hunted shifts from without the author to within. Gradually, as Stillman himself discovers that he is searching for a person who actually does not exist except in his imagination. Slowly, as he descends into madness, layers of identity and reality are examined, as Paul Auster the writer of the novel; "the author" who reports the events as reality; "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story; and "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in the novel.
The second novella, Ghosts, is about a private eye called Blue who is investigating a man named Black for a client named White. Black and White turn out to be the same person, a writer who is writing a story about Blue watching him.
Finally, The Locked Room is the story of a writer who lacks the creativity to produce fiction. Fanshawe, his childhood friend has produced creative work, and when he disappears the writer publishes his work and replaces him in his family. While trying to deal with their relationship, he discovers his creative gift, and it emerges that he is the author of the three stories of the trilogy.
Eventually, in "The Locked Room", the three tales are tied together in a hauntingly perfect manner; in the first two tales, Paul Auster as author explores the transcending of Paul Auster as character, both in eponymous fashion, and while adopting generic colour names; in the third, the main question of the three novels finally comes to a head - Who ACTUALLY narrates these three novels?
And with that thought gently brushing the tip of the reader's consciousness, Auster leaves the reader grappling with issues of his own identity.
This is deemed worthy to be termed a classic of postmodernism; I give it a 9 out of 10.
at 6:04 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Writing a review in the middle of reading a book is just about as unorthodox as one can get. Unfortunately, that's precisely the case, and this can only be no ordinary book.
Welcome to "Will and Me", with the telling subheader that says "How Shakespeare Took Over My Life." Life, indeed. Here, Dominic Dromgoole relates his love relationship with the Chief Poet in a dreamy, passionate, yet sometimes self-deprecating way. His series of short, condensed essay-like chapters chronicle a journey of reminiscence, but also one of acute self-awareness. One gets the feeling that Dromgoole is trying to tell himself how he learned from Shakespeare on a whole new personal level - and not a morally-right this-is-how-you-should-be way, and just happens to tell it to us, as well.
A literature enthusiast would be thrilled at the leisurely quality of this book, but also its profoundly intellectual side (more notably, the second part of the book titled 'The Walk', a pilgrimage from Stratford to London's Globe). Quotes from the most famous to the more obscure Shakespeare plays feature extensively here, one of my favourites being:
"Where are my tears? Rain, to lay this wind, or my heart will be blown up by the root." -- Pandarus, in Troilus and Cressida
It is a wondrous piece of autobiographical tribute to Shakespeare, especially for a budding King Lear student (i.e. yours truly) to listen to his glowing words of praise for a Lawrence Olivier production and suddenly seized with the desire to see it for myself. The headers of each 'short essay' are also catchy and outline this book's uniqueness even more - they all begin with curiously small letters, and consist of an amalgamation of curious key words: 'Glastonbury Cabaret, apeshit sessions and the Falstaff pattern.'
Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser. But all is soon explained once the chapter is read.
Dromgoole succeeds in channeling his passion to his readers (who, presumably, are also avid fans of Shakespeare) and manages to endear this connection to us as we sympathise with accounts of his failed attempts at reenacting Shakespeare plays with his peers from Cambridge in a rather shaky theatre company.
Freshly published in 2007, it is contemporary enough to make us admire his attempts to stage art to the modern masses, and historical enough to make the older generation connect with the periods of war gone through by Dromgoole's thespian parents.
"Will and Me" was compelling enough in the first half of reading to move this reader into reviewing it on page 137. It might well be the same for you.
- Michelle Tan
at 8:33 PM