Monday, 14 January 2008

The Book of Illusions

Title: The Book of Illusions

Author: Paul Auster

Number of pages: 321

Started: 5 January 2008

Finished: 14 January 2008

Opening words:

Everyone thought he was dead. When my book about his films was published in 1988, Hector Mann had not been heard from in almost sixty years. Except for a handful of historians and old-time movie buffs, few people seemed to know that he had ever existed. Double or Nothing, the last of the twelve two-reel comedies he made at the end of the silent era, was released on November 23, 1928. Two months later, without saying goodbye to any of his friends or associates, without leaving a letter or informing anyone of his plans, he walked out of his rented house on North Orange Drive and was never seen again. His blue DeSoto was parked in the garage; the lease on his property was good for another three months; the rent had been paid in full. There was food in the kitchen, whiskey in the liquor cabinet and not a single item of Hector’s clothing was missing from the bedroom drawers. According to the Los Angeles Herald Express of January 18, 1929, it looked as though he had stepped out for a short walk and would be returning at any moment. But he didn’t return, and from that point on it was as if Hector Mann had vanished from the face of the earth.

Plot summary:

Set in the late 1980s, the story is written from the perspective of David Zimmer, a university professor who, after losing his wife and children in a plane crash, falls into a routine of depression and isolation. After seeing one of the silent comedies of Hector Mann, an actor missing since the 1920s, he decides to occupy himself by watching all of Mann's films and writing a book about them. The publishing of the book, however, triggers another series of events that draw Zimmer even deeper into the actor's past.

The middle of the story is largely dedicated to telling the life story of Hector Mann, involving his self-imposed exile from his past life and career, which serves as a form of penance for his role in the death of a woman who loved him. In his last days, his wife sends a letter to Zimmer, requesting him to come to their New Mexico home to bear witness to Mann's final legacy of films. The events that ensue form the overarching story of Zimmer's rehabilitation from his reclusive state, and his coming to terms with the manner in which his family was killed.

The plot summary was taken from Wikipedia

What I thought

I quite liked this book, it was an interesting and sad story. It was almost a story made up of several layers of story that were each interwoven.

I might give some of his other books a go.

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