NY Trilogy is certainly an entertaining and perplexing work of fiction, each story a variation on the theme of identity (lost and found), rootlessness, insecurity, what makes us human and individual , and other heavy themes.
However in this bleak, urban look at the impersonality of modern society, Auster is also having fun playing games with us, demonstrating (his) the writer's ability to create fictional characters - exploring how much of the characters are invention and how much autobiographical. Even the narrator - is that the writer's voice or an imposter? We, the readers, become the detective, encountering a trail of red herrings, unreliable witnesses and dead ends to try to discover the motives of author, narrator and characters. Can we find out the truth? Is that the message?
Each is a puzzling case, inter-related by characters who turn up repeatedly (including Auster himself - described in the third person). You're never sure whether it is the same person each time or another invention by the author. Confused? That's part of the charm of the book - I'm not sure there is a tidy solution - it is certainly an unsettling experience as the narrator in each case seems to be unreliable and more than a bit unstable, but it gets your brain working and that's got to be a good thing.
I enjoyed it - i don't really know why. I can't even decide whether it's well written. Certainly it's funny at times (in a nervous twitchy way) and if you're the sort who enjoys this sort of multi-layered mind game I can whole-heartedly recommend two English alternatives - Charles Palliser's "Unburied" or James Lasdun's "The Horned Man"