Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oracle Night by Paul Auster

I personally think that Paul Auster writes like a dream. And Oracle Night is no exception. The writing is really good. And for the first 100 pages (the book is less than 200 pages in total) or more, I also enjoyed the story and was looking forward to see where it would lead. But I can't say that I feel much about the ending, which, unfortunately, ruined the whole book for me. So while I am a big Auster-fan, in my book Oracle Night is no match for some of his other works.

Oracle Night takes place in New York as so many of Auster's books. The main character in the inital story is Sid Orr, a recovering author, who just got back to life after month's of severe illness. His story is the frame. Within this frame there are at least two other stories, where the second story acts as a frame for the third. I did have to keep very concentrated because of all those different stories, and it was not as elegantly executed as I have seen before. There are other layers inside the other frames as well, making this read a bit too convoluted for my likings.

Sid Orr's story is about him recovering and trying to get back into the swing of writing. He thinks about his wife, Grace, they go visiting their friend, the well-known write John Trause and he walks around Brooklyn, visiting paper-stores and other places he accidentially fall into during his walks.

The other "main" story is the story Sid begins writing. That is a story about a man who, with no real reason, leaves his wife and goes hiding in Kansas City. And the third story is inside this second story. The man leaving his wife has gotten hold of a book about a blind mand surviving World War II.

All the way through the book Sid leaves footnotes explaining things about his life, about his work, his wife etc. I found the writing good, but it felt too silly with the footnotes which often read over 3-4 pages, and you had to go back and forth.

After all those stories has been put out there, the ending fell very flat in my opinion. I don't expect every book to have a nice and clean cut ending, and specially not in books and stories of this nature, but it still annoyed me pretty much that the ending was so lame.

This book is read as part of the RYOB-challenge and the Read and Review-challenge.


farmlanebooks said...

I thought I was going to find a recommendation for a Paul Auster book to go and buy straight away! Nevermind, I'll wait for your post on him, and hope you point out his best book, so I can give him a try.

Dorte H said...

This sounds a bit like my reaction when I read the New York trilogy. The first part was wonderful, the second was good, but the third was a bit too weird for me.
He is certainly a great author, no doubt about that, but sometimes he tries too hard to escape from conventions. I know that is the way to gain acknowlegement from the critics; I am just not a revolutionary. In fact that is part of my fascination with crime fiction: good whodunnits end well! :)

Alessandra said...

Looking forward to reading your post about Paul Auster, so I can have a good recommendation about a book by him to start with. There are severals at my local library, and none is checked out at the moment.

Michelle said...

I read this last year and I'm struggling to remember the ending. I do know I liked the beginning a lot better than the end. But I found the footnotes to be really amusing! My husband was sitting next to me in bed when I was reading this one, and he said to me 'what are you doing?' as he saw me flipping pages back and forth. Definately looking forward to your Paul Auster post!

Louise said...

This one was not one of the best in my opinion, and I don't think it is the one a new Auster-reader should begin with. But I will have to begin working on my Auster-post soon and have found some background material to use as well. I am not a pro literary reviewer, and I am not inpiring to become one, but I don't want to write complete nonsense either ;o)