A Tale of Two Cities
The Complete Short Stories
Fahrenheit 451
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Navigators of Dune
End of Watch
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
King Henry VI, Part 3
King Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 1
King Henry IV, Part Two
King Henry IV, Part 1
Richard II
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Rosie Effect
On the Nature of Things
So Anyway


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Book of Illusions

The Book of Illusions
by Paul Auster.

Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 336 Pages,
5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in
Published: October 27, 2009
Publisher: Picador
Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0312429010
ISBN - 13: 9780312429010

From The Publisher:
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.

Smell The Book Review
A great lesson for me about what  a book club discussion adds to the enjoyment and understanding of a book.
Before the discussion I would have given the book a 3 out of 5. Well written, though apparently not considered the best of Paul Auster's books by some in the group that have read more of him. ("Atonement" kept coming up as a better example of his writing). But the many minds in the Ottawa Book Club definitely added to my
interpretation of the book.
The book has a lot of life-altering "accidents" in it. Several pure-chance encounters that change things. The plane crash of David's family. Hectors son being stung by a bee and dying. The gun David pretends to shoot himself in the head with having the safety on which saves his life etc. Many big accidents that direct the lives of the characters.  
The characters were somewhat believable. I say "somewhat" as I can't, fortunately,  guess as to how I would respond to the death of my spouse and children. What's "normal" in that case? In some ways, Zimmer's response seems to be a pretty normal one of suicidal thoughts, drinking and engaging in outside efforts in order to try and forget his grief and get past it. The character perhaps that is less believable is Alma. Is it "normal" to take a gun to invite someone to join you? Is it "normal" for wither of them to sleep with the other within hours of meeting? Alma, perhaps, but I wonder if Zimmer's grief would have allowed him to sleep with another woman so quickly.
One member of the group did point out that the book is called "The Book of ILLUSIONS". So where are the illusions? Is it the mystery of film making? Is it the illusion Hector Mann creates in his disguised alter-ego? This book members larger point was that perhaps the entire book was an illusion created by Zimmer's mind. He makes a point in the end of stating that he had no proof of Hector's movies. No proof of Alma's book (which was destroyed) and no proof that even Alma herself existed. Perhaps the whole book is some twisted reality created by David to help keep him busy and distracted.
So pre-book club a 3 out of 5 (which is still a good book) but add a star with the additional discussion that expanded my thoughts about the book.

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