Author: Paul Auster
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, LLC
Pub. Date: 31 January 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
Families are complicated, life is capricious and unstable, and what you know is so easily what you might have never known, especially for Ferguson, who is created to live his life from birth to death four times between the covers of this book. Multiple versions of the same story converging at unexpected common way-points, yet each as different as a separate novel. This is certainly an in-depth study of a single man and the slight changes in life that have the power to shape him.
Not everyone could pull off such an ambitious and complicated structure, but Paul Auster is a mature writer, apparently not intimidated at all. As well written as it is, it is not going to work for everyone, mainly because it is also not easy to sustain an interest in a single character or story line long enough to read four different versions of the same novel concurrently. For me, Ferguson was interesting without ever reaching charismatic, and his lives were relatively normal in flavor, completely human with ups and downs, but without any real surprises or emotional tidal waves. I remained unmoved and unsurprised throughout.
This is a book that is perfect to savor by the fireplace over a long frozen post zombie-apocalypse winter. It is a huge, (866 pages), literary, somewhat less sharp near contemporary Tolstoyesque tome that marches forward stolidly– sometimes doggedly. When you are done, by golly, you know you have finished something with weight and intelligence. Once again, for me, it felt a little too much like work. Auster is a formidable writer and I am not sorry I read the whole thing—but I am glad I am done.
A copy was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.