Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

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Paloma recommends this book by the famous American writer.



The narrator of this story is David Zimmer, a literature professor who has recently lost his wife and two sons in a tragic plane crash. He escapes from the world and spends his days drinking and watching television. He divorced society, quit his job and broke all contact with the people in his life.
One day he laughed while he was watching a Hector Mann's movie on television. That moment made him realize that there was still something inside him that wanted to live and he realized he needed something to occupy his mind with. So he decides to write a book about Hestor Mann and his movies. However Davis is unable to explain Hector Mann's disappearance in 1929.
Aparently there was no reason to disappear, Hector Mann has a promising career, he was handsome and popular with women. After publishing the book a friend from the past called and asked him to do a traslation of a French writer, Chateaubriand. David Zimmer also received a letter from Frida Spelling claiming to be Hector Mann's wife. She said she had read the book and wanted to know if he would like to come to New Mexico and meet Hector.
David initially believed the letter to be a fraud, someone playing a joke on him. But he received more letters and he started thinking maybe Hector Mann was still alive. Soon a woman called Alma arrived at his house to take him to New Mexico to see Hector by force if necessary. Alma told David Hestor Mann's story and why he had disappeared, how he had caused the death of a woman he loved, he had run away and assumed a new identity. After several jobs he started working in his lover's family. That set him on the road once more.
At the same time we are following two different stories: the story of Alma and David and the story of Hector and Frida Spelling. Both Hector Mann and David Zimmer are caught up in tragic and destructive events and both are seeking to find peace, to find a way to live with themselves and the world.
It is a thought provoking and emotionally stimulating novel. Auster makes the story easy to read and the story holds your interest. 
On one hand I find the detailed descriptions of Hector Mann's films tiresome, on the other hand it is an enjoyable story. On the whole I found reading The Book of Illusions entertaining and stimulating.

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