Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

A Cast of Characters Makes the Mundane Interesting

A Retiree Moves to Brooklyn to Wait to Die

Meet Nathan Glass. He thinks he's done with living and will be a spectator as he waits to die. He has retired from his job as a successful insurance salesman. He seems to have beat cancer but he considers himself old and without any connections so he moves back to his hometown of Brooklyn after a life in the suburbs and waits. He figures that not much will happen to him so he will reflect on his life by writing a book about the follies he has encountered in his own personal history and experiences.

Sounds pretty mundane doesn't it? Little scraps of paper with anecdotes from his past become his mission. However, life seems to get in the way and fate intervenes. Nathan soon has a chance encounter with his nephew Tom, a long lost relative that is just one of the many people that we are introduced to through this story. We will eventually meet a cast of characters, all with their own quirks, that each have a impact on Nathan and distract him from his plan to wait and die. There is of course Tom, an academic prodigy who ends up basically giving up to drive a cab before he finishes his doctorate. There's Harry, the flamboyant bookstore owner, with a checkered past. Then there's "Beautiful Mother" that Tom admires from a far as she waits for her children to be picked up by the school bus each morning.

The Brooklyn Follies has many lessons but most of all that life continues to go on and there are chapters to one's life. What was once important and treasured may be less essential when love, relationships and connections are made. Class, politics, and academia, as well as money don't buy happiness.


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