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The Music of Chance Paperback – 5 Jan 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571229077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571229079
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Description

Book Description

The Music of Chance is Paul Auster's unsettling tale of chance, gambling and rootlessness, Kafkaesque and quintessentially American at the same time.

About the Author

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Invisible, Moon Palace, Mr Vertigo, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Jan. 1998
Format: Paperback
There is something about The Music of Chance that makes the reader fall in love with Paul Auster.It could be the clarity of his prose and his real precision with language. It might be that he takes an idea, two men being forced to build a wall because they lost a poker game, and elevates it from the absurd to the brilliant. The novel speaks about chance - brief encounters with people and ideas. It is a beautiful novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Demob Happy on 21 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm having a sudden urge to raid Paul Auster's works, following up `Mr. Vertigo` with `The Music of Chance`, a book I had long-neglected but somehow - like an Auster character, perhaps - convinced myself I had already read. This is probably because of the low-key but cultish film adaptation starring James Spader and M. Emmet Walsh that burned a peculiar and indelible mark on my brain. Once I had picked up `The Music of Chance', though, it was very difficult to put down, a quality common to the author's novels. There's something in the rhythm of Auster's writing, in his unknotty way of describing incremental and inexorable changes in his characters' fortunes, that makes his works compelling and - in this case - quite distressing. `The Music of Chance' has the curious quality of being simultaneously about inevitability - or fate - and having the atmosphere of a nightmare. Very little about Auster's novels seems real - there is the symbolic nature of a fable about `The Music of Chance' - but as a reader we can still live the experience as one might live through a very bad dream.

`The Music of Chance' has gained, for me at least, a contemporary relevance in that it deals with characters finally enslaved by their own greed. I use `greed' for lack of a better word since in fact Auster's protagonists are not simply driven by avarice but see in money their only chance of freedom, and not without reason of course. It is the fact - or at least the prevailing belief - that money buys freedom which dooms friends Nashe and Pozzi, the odd couple who meet in a chance encounter. Nashe, a somewhat lonely soul, has inherited money from the death of his father and, having been left by his wife, sells virtually all his possessions to embark on a prolonged and randomly-plotted road trip.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
A thought provoking tale. Asks us whether a man can be truly free, and indeed, whether such freedom necessarily leads to happiness. Nashe comes into an inheritance, setting off on an aimless driving marathon around the USA. He only feels free when driving, but must keep going to avoid his responsibilities and the real world catching up with him. Eventually, with his money running out, a chance encounter with a young gambler leads to Nashe losing his precious liberty in bizarre fashion. I strongly recommend this book, whether read just as a strange story, or as an examination of Man's existential plight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Newark, New Jersey-born author Paul Auster has written some brilliantly inventive novels in his time, but this 1990 work is, for me, one of his finest. Running to just over 200 pages it might be more accurately described as a novelette, and with Auster's vivid imagination (and easy-to-read prose) imbuing every sentence it is a tale that can easily be devoured in a handful of sittings (indeed I have just re-read it, for the fifth or sixth time, in less than a week). Equally, in typical Auster style, it can either be read as 'simply' a fast-moving adventure story or something much more profound - a man's frustrating struggle to find his inner self, perhaps - and, with its dream-like themes of soul-searching, paranoia and bizarre coincidence (another Auster staple, of course), and its propensity for 'more questions than answers', Auster's nightmarish tale of thirtysomething, Jim Nashe, calls to mind something straight out of Franz Kafka or Kazuo Ishiguro at their most inventive.

As was the case with Benjamin Sachs from Leviathan, Marco Fogg from Moon Palace and David Zimmer from The Book Of Illusions, Auster once again sets up ex-Boston fireman Jim Nashe as a man 'out of time' and in search of his own self as, on finding himself the beneficiary of a family legacy, absolves himself of all responsibility (young daughter, absent wife) and sets off on a year-long road trip, before running into 'budding card-sharp' Jack Pozzi and (jointly) hatching a scheme to plunder winnings (at poker) from a pair of reclusive multi-millionaires.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read almost all of Auster's novels, I find that their appeal often lies in the ideas they deal in rather than the plots, which are sometimes less than spectacular. But The Music of Chance is the opposite: a tight little plot, but a concept that, unless I have utterly missed the point, seems trite.

In the hope of avoiding spoilers, I can only say so much. But our two heroes find themselves the prisoners of richer men. Having lost at cards, they must work to redeem a debt. Note that the pair of rich men got their fortune through luck, at the lottery, and that the work they impose on their victims, virtually in prison-camp conditions, is pointless and exploitative. Is this a metaphor for capitalism? Are the heroes the exploited, left with no exit but to find satisfaction in work done, never able to save enough to achieve freedom, and prone to blow what they do accumulate on sex, alcohol, and other opiums? If this is what it is, then The Music of Chance seems no more than a rehashing of Marxist staples. If not, I don't know what the novel is supposed to be about; not chance, from the look of it. This is Auster: this is a good novel, especially the first few chapters. But could it be, shall we say, somewhat un-American?

PS: Auster has a short book on writing called The Red Notebook, covering such topics as the role of coincidence, the poetry of names, and the question: why write? I strongly recommend checking it if you are intrigued, or even irritated, by his pet themes and quirks.
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