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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laughter in the dark
This is probably the most light-hearted of all Auster's novels, and yet it still begins with a line haunted by darkness and despair: "I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn....". Absolutely nobody can do those attention grabbing opening lines quite as well as Paul Auster.

Nathan Glass, retired from work, separated from his wife...
Published on 25 Sep 2006 by Gregory S. Buzwell

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad way to pass the time of day
This was my first Paul Auster book and I did enjoy his style and the general storyline did hold my attention. It does feel a little like a soap opera, the characters are sympathetic as they battle with their modern day issues in Brooklyn. Nathan is a believable narrator with many faults as well as strengths as the storyline ambled along. I did not think there was anything...
Published on 6 Jun 2007 by J. Bloss


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laughter in the dark, 25 Sep 2006
By 
Gregory S. Buzwell "bagpuss007" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
This is probably the most light-hearted of all Auster's novels, and yet it still begins with a line haunted by darkness and despair: "I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn....". Absolutely nobody can do those attention grabbing opening lines quite as well as Paul Auster.

Nathan Glass, retired from work, separated from his wife and now retreating from life itself, returns to the area in which he spent the first few years of his existence, looking for nothing more than a quiet time and a few peaceful years before death. Instead he finds himself trying to drag relatives and friends from the very same slough of despond into which he himself has descended. He meets up with his nephew, a once brilliant scholar who has since let himself go, and who spends most of his waking hours dreaming of the Beautiful Perfect Mother (a stunningly attractive unobtainable woman with two children whom he walks past on the way to work every morning), and Harry Brightman, a colourful 'con-man with a heart' who owns a local secondhand bookstore. Later in the novel a young girl appears, Lucy, who refuses to speak but who gives everyone a renewed purpose in life and a focus that drags them away from their own morbid introspection.

If I'm making this sound a dark and gloomy book then I couldn't be further from the truth. It's funny, tender, involving and ultimately life-affirming: look up from your own problems and concerns, look around and take an interest in the people around you, and suddenly you'll find all sorts of beautiful patterns and relationships developing in life. As usual with Auster there are plenty of colouful characters: Honey Chowder, the blousy, bright and fun daughter of a hotel owner; Rufus the transvestite drag act; Nancy the perfect beauty whose tastes don't quite run to the conventional, and David Minor, a religious fanatic who, ultimately, does the right thing in spite of all the odds.

The Brooklyn Follies is, if you like, Auster-lite. If you think you'd prefer the darker works then try The New York Trilogy or Oracle Night, but all of Auster's work is worth reading and in the pages of The Brooklyn Follies you will meet people who will stay with you, and you will come out of it with a renewed faith in mankind. Give it a go. Auster is one of the best writers out there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster - a review, 5 Mar 2006
By 
J. D. Naylor "jazzfan" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
Just when you think he's written his best novel yet Paul Auster manages to top his previous effort.This tale differs quite a bit from his recent work as he abandons the elements of mystery and intrigue and goes for all out human drama - and boy what a drama is is.It's a pretty straight forward tale of a sixty something loner who has pretty much given up on life but a chance move to Brooklyn changes everything for the better.The narrative starts slowly as Auster masterfully adds flesh to the bones of all the characters but also,as the story progresses,the characters reveal more and more of themselves to the reader and there are many many surprises along the way.Auster's real skill is his genius with words and his ability to create such a rich tapestry of life but told in such a simplistic way that you can often relate the story to your own life.The moral of the story is that we all possess that thing called human spirit but perhaps lose sight of it in our daily lives but this book really is about that "human spirit" and how resiliant we really all are and how you can gain strength, inspiration and pleasure from the simplest things in life.
An enjoyable and uplifting read.Buy it now and put yourself in the hands of one of today's very best contemporary writers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad way to pass the time of day, 6 Jun 2007
By 
J. Bloss "jethrox1" (Buckingham,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
This was my first Paul Auster book and I did enjoy his style and the general storyline did hold my attention. It does feel a little like a soap opera, the characters are sympathetic as they battle with their modern day issues in Brooklyn. Nathan is a believable narrator with many faults as well as strengths as the storyline ambled along. I did not think there was anything outstanding about it though and the story is relatively tame and gentle except of course for the last paragraph or so. I can see what Auster was trying to do with bring Sept 11th into the book but I don't think it worked. It did show the arbitrary nature of such a dramatic event overshadowing people's lives but I think he needed to write a bit more about it. I wouldn't rush to read another Auster but find it hard to criticise this book too much.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 13 April 2008
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
It was my third book by Auster and I absolutely loved it. It's vibrant, the language is funny and moving. I loved the literary stories within about Kafka, Poe and Thoreau and many others. It's an optimistic novel about people who want to make their lives worthwile. It shows the beauty of every day and it did make me feel great.
Read it and enjoy!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mellowing of Paul Auster, 26 Oct 2005
By 
Mike Fazey (Perth, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Hardcover)
The Brooklyn Follies is ultimately an optimistic novel, which makes it quite different from the dark early work which made me an Auster fan. Sure, there is sadness and despair, but they are defeated in the end - all but one of the characters manages to regain their lives and to find a kind of happiness. (The one who doesn't dies, but his death is the catalyst for others' redemption.) Auster's native Brooklyn is painted with an affection which manages not to be sentimental, and the characters, despite their quirks and weaknesses, are likeable because they are human and because they can change for the better. The book advocates community and humanity as positive forces. It ends minutes before the attack on the World Trade Centre and one is left with the strong feeling that even this awful event will not undo the transformations and renewed lives we have just read about. New Yorkers (and indeed Americans generally) refused to be cowed by 9/11 and perhaps this book tells us why - because beneath the grime of politics and commerce lies something altogether more worthwhile that can perhaps change America for the better.
I liked The Brooklyn Follies, but not for the same reasons that I liked The New York Trilogy or Moon Palace or The Book of Illusions. It's a gentler novel than any of those, without the hard edge, without the dark, slightly surreal veil. Read it to cheer yourself up, or to inspire you to re-engage with the world. It's a book to be enjoyed, so enjoy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, 10 Jan 2007
By 
Matthew Thorbes "Pads" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
Every so often, an author writes a book that touches you deep down inside. They find a note that just sets off a whole torrent of emotion in you. Whether Auster intended to do this for his readers here, but he has the rare honour of having acheived it for me twice - once in his seminal New York Trilogy, and now again in The Brooklyn Follies.

Without wanting to confuse people by completely contradicting the other reviewers here, the character rendition in this book is exemplary. You get a feel for the community that exists around the narrator and his nephew that many people in today's world rarely feel - and you come away from the book wanting to know more about everyone that you met there.

Whereas the New York Trilogy was dark, disturbing and explored the meaning of identity within oneself, The Brooklyn Follies explores how our relationships with others defines our identity beyond what our perceptions of ourselves may be. It does so in a light hearted series of mini-essays which unfold as the characters live out their lives.

The other thing which really stood out for me was the way that it captured life in New York. Not the mythical, movie-and-sitcom New York that the mainstream media pumps you with daily, but the real, plain, ordinary New York that hides beneath the hype, one which you need to have lived or worked there to truly experience (until now!).

Fabulous work, Mr Auster. An entertaining, light hearted journey through the lives of the unsung heroes of one of the world's most famous cities. A remarkable achievement.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Enthralling Auster, 7 April 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
It is always a joy to pick up one of Paul Auster’s novels and to delve into this man’s almost uniquely inventive imagination. And, whilst I share the oft-held view that Auster has lost some of his creative (indeed, at times, literally magical) edge so amply displayed in past classics like The New York Trilogy, The Music Of Chance and Moon Palace (and even his surreal 'pooch classic’, Timbuktu), reading The Brooklyn Follies again recently I was once enraptured by Auster’s inventive narrative and compelling prose.

If anything, here (and not for the first time) Auster probably overdoes the narrative complexity as the middle-aged protagonist (the 'Auster character’ here), ex-insurance man, Nathan Glass, returns home to Brooklyn (also the author’s adopted home) for the first time in nearly sixty years, setting in train a tale of family strife amongst 'lost’ relatives (wife, daughter, nephew, niece, etc), New York bookstores, gay art forgers (the larger than life Harry Brightman), 'mute’ grand-nieces, bible-bashing puritans and waitress obsessions, at the heart of which are the well-established Auster themes of identity, coincidence and mortality. And, even though his tale throws us down repeated narrative ‘blind alleys’, the man’s prose is so intoxicating it is almost impossible not to be held in thrall to The Brooklyn Follies’ diverse and intriguing cast of characters (making its 300 pages easily devourable in a handful of sittings).

I would characterise Auster’s later writing by his now more reflective and poignant characterisations, and whilst I would still have a preference for the kaleidoscopic virtuosity and greater dramatic intensity of the earlier works, The Brooklyn Follies reinforces (my view of) Auster as a continuing, significant (and original) literary force.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humour and despair, 19 April 2007
By 
B. Gudmundsson (Iceland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Hardcover)
Of all the books I read last year this is the one I keep coming back to. Auster weaves a great story about flawed people, some despairing and some finding hope. I hear Auster can be quite a difficult read but that is not the case with this book. It is a great story that I found hard to put down. I picked this book up while traveling in Denmark. I started reading it on the train to Kastrup airport, continued reading it while waiting for check-in and kept on reading while walking to the plane and did not put it down until I went to an event in the evening. I then picked it up and finished when I came back home. This is the first time I have done that in close to a decade. It is a moving story, funny, exciting and dramatic. It is the best novel I have read in years. It surpasses Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way wich up until reading this book was my favorite of the last few years, because of it's heart and Barry's great writing style and talent to make us feel for his characters.

The theme in The Brooklyn Follies is somewhat similar to Philip Roth's Everyman. While Everyman is dark The Brooklyn Follies has a lighter tone, more humour as well as a wealth of interesting characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Auster's best, 24 Jun 2014
By 
J. H. Bretts "jerard1" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
Nathan Glass, retired and in remission from cancer, moves to Brookyn where he meets up again with his nephew, down on his luck Tom Wood. So begins a wonderfully warm and funny novel by Paul Auster, which is perhaps about the search for the perfect place to live and way to live. I have read a lot of Auster's novels and this has a vein of humour that is quite missing from the others but is all the better for it. There is a huge cast of characters and many different stories within stories. Highly enjoyable and thought-provoking at the same time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lovely tale, 2 Dec 2011
By 
Bookwoman - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
I enjoyed letting the storytelling quality of this book just wash over me. The calm, measured, literary tone makes it sound as if you're listening to a wise old uncle reading aloud from his fascinating journal, just for you.
There's something so satisfying about stories of ordinary, ill-assorted people coming together in an unexpected way and making a life together, and this is how this book starts - following divorce, retirement, and a bout of lung cancer, fiftysomething Nathan moves back to Brooklyn to die. A chance meeting with his estranged nephew, who's also given up on life, leads to a series of unexpected events and a shot at redemption for both of them.
Sounds corny? That's what it is, I suppose: all that wisdom and serendipity does get a bit cloying at times, and the neat ending is completely shameless (as is the mention of 9/11), but I could forgive that in a book which is so beautifully written.
Unfortunately it lost me towards the end when two dramatic plots suddenly came from nowhere and set a completely different tone, taking the story into places I didn't expect. The mute child, Nathan's great niece who just turns up on the doorstep, didn't seem at all real, and her mother's story seemed part of a different book altogether. As did the tale of forgery and blackmail involving the old bookseller.
Perhaps the whole thing would have been better as a book of short stories, told by Nathan?
Still, I've never read a book that evoked a place and atmosphere better than this: how lovely it would be to read it sitting in Prospect Park, or in one of Nathan's diners.
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The Brooklyn Follies
The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster (Paperback - 5 May 2011)
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