The New York Trilogy: City of Glass/ Ghosts/ the Locked Room

The New York Trilogy: City of Glass/ Ghosts/ the Locked Room - Paul Auster

I have to hold firm with myself to leave 'The New York Trilogy' at 3 stars, because overall I liked it, I finished it quick enough, but the more I think about it, the more I believe it was a waste of time.

I read the trilogy together, launching into the 'Ghosts' as soon as 'City of Glass' ended, etc. so that the connection could be as fresh in my mind as they could be.

Of the three, 'City of Glass' was the most enjoyable, involving morose detective-fiction writer Daniel Quinn. He answers his phone, responds to a name that is not his own - Paul Auster - and becomes immersed in a case like one out of his books. The narrative deliberately sows confusion with multiple cases of mistaken identity, "the" Paul Auster, and a stake-out that just won't end. I was hoping that the pace and style of this book would continue - but the novellas are only tangentially related.

'Ghosts' begins with a stake-out, a private investigator paid to ceaselessly watch another man for years. Everything is chromatic with all characters being named after colors (White, Brown, Violet, Black, etc.) all very Tarantino. Blue, like Quinn, begins to lose himself in the case he's investigating. The narrative belabors the repetition of it all, the endless watching, the wondering, the edge-of-your-seat drama of nothing happening at all.

'The Locked Room' goes back to a more stable narrative, but this time it is a would-be writer who lacks the inspiration to write fiction. He is contacted by the widow of a childhood friend and asked to edit and shepherd Fanshawe's manuscripts into print. On discovering that the manuscripts are brilliant, he accepts. He also avails himself of that widow and the life that Fanshawe might have had, but bearing the burden of his late friend's life has more consequences than he anticipated.

All three works have passing references to each other and Auster is making some meta-fictional point about art and life and blah blah blah, but it didn't grab a hold of me. When I wasn't reading the book I wasn't thinking about it, my initial pleasure that I was reading a modern noir gamechanger faded the further I got into it. I need a bit more to go on. Eh. Two stars it is.