Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Sunset Park

Title: Sunset Park

Author: Paul Auster

Number of pages: 308

Started: 20 April 2011

Finished: 27 April 2011

Opening words:

For almost a year now, he has been taking photographs of abandoned things. There are at least two jobs every day, sometimes as many as six or seven, and each time he and his cohorts enter another house, they are confronted by the things, the innumerable cast- off things left behind by the departed families. The absent people have all fled in haste, in shame, in confusion, and it is certain that wherever they are living now (if they have found a place to live and are not camped out in the streets) their new dwellings are smaller than the houses they have lost. Each house is a story of failure — of bankruptcy and default, of debt and foreclosure — and he has taken it upon himself to document the last, lingering traces of those scattered lives in order to prove that the vanished families were once here, that the ghosts of people he will never see and never know are still present in the discarded things strewn about their empty houses.

Plot summary:

In the sprawling flatlands of Florida, 28-year-old Miles is photographing the last lingering traces of families who have abandoned their houses due to debt or foreclosure. Miles is haunted by guilt for having inadvertently caused the death of his step-brother, a situation that caused him to flee his father and step-mother in New York 7 years ago. What keeps him in Florida is his relationship with a teenage high-school girl, Pilar, but when her family threatens to expose their relationship, Miles decides to protect Pilar by going back to Brooklyn, where he settles in a squat to prepare himself to face the inevitable confrontation with his father that he has been avoiding for years.

What I thought:

I was not entirely convinced by Paul Auster’s previous book, Invisible, but I think he was on much better form with his latest book, Sunset Park.

I thought this was a good read and had clear indications of earlier novels - misfit characters, strange circumstances, no nice neat endings – and hung together well. It was a satisfying read and reminded me why I like Paul Auster.

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