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3.7 out of 5 stars85
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 June 1999
The NewYork Trilogy is that rare thing, a book that will continue to haunt you long after you put it down. Though the three stories it contains are structured and inspired by thriller novels, the work is essentially a meditation on the art of writing. It draws a parallel between a private investigator having to watch the person he has been hired to spy on and a writer attempting to create and capture a life on the page. All the central characters in the three stories hit a black wall at some point, where they feel unable to penetrate through to the subject under their observation. Auster captures this limitation of writing beautifully. This is a gripping, dark and completely original piece of work. Certainly a twentieth century classic. I shudder to think that I was nearly going to pass it over.
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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2005
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"
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 30 April 2013
I really wanted to like this more. It's clever, twisty, intelligent but maybe a little TOO intelligent.

Three interconnected detective stories, set in New York. For me though, each was about a rather unlikeable man, who made some silly choices (that he didn't have to) that then affected his life and relationships.

And it's all grim, gritty and depressing too.

It's well written though. I was impressed with the voice of the younger Peter Stillman in 'City of Glass', a moving tale told in an impressively realistic voice.

The book was recommended to me and while I'm glad I got through it, it was a bit of a slog, it's not easy (the second tale almost made me give up, with characters called White, Blue, Black etc but it didn't end up confusing me.

Not one for someone who's after a cheery or light read. It's deep, depressing and dark but it is clever. Make of it what you will.
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on 5 June 2005
This book had been on my 'to read' list for years before I finally got round to reading it last year. I was totally blown away. Although I have friends who found it too hard going to enjoy it, in my opinion this is one of the great novels of the twentieth century and sets Auster up as the finest writer alive. I have since devoured everything he has written and have never been disappointed. When you close an Auster novel you only wish that the person sitting next to you has read it too so you can discuss - like when you watch a film like Mulholland Drive. You will think about it for days.
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on 16 April 2000
I read this several months ago and am still thinking about it. It's a book for anyone who has ever wanted to write, or who loves reading novels that don't have answers. Auster doesn't lead us by the hand to the answers; he throws us in a dark room and leaves us to figure it out ourselves. As he says, it isn't the outcome of the story that counts but the telling of the story itself (ok Paul, whatever). That said, it isn't indulgent and is as accessible a book as something this experiemental can be. One to read if you want to open your mind and challenge your brain. Not an easy read but a beautiful, interesting, haunting one that gets under your skin and stays there.
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The New York Trilogy is undeniably the most bizarre book i've ever read; billed as something along the lines of classic american crime writing with a post-modern twist, the three stories in the trilogy are not only gripping, they'll stay in your head for sometime after you've read them
City of GLass is typical of the three stories; it takes a regular detective with the job of trailing someobody for a client - Auster expertly conveys the obsession assosciated with such a case, and his character Quinn, soon loses all human characteristics...
While this and the locked room are both wonderful reads, the gem in the trilogy is the considerably shorter, Ghosts. Written in such a taut crisp style, this short story is often confusing, but never overwhelming.
Auster has taken the genre by its nether regions and delivered a keen and intelligent analysis of it. After reading the trilogy you can't help but feel more intelligent and content. THese are truly miraculous writings.
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on 31 May 2016
Auster's New York Trilogy, though experimental in style, is beautifully written, compelling and readable. It comprises three novellas, each in its own way a mystery story, with some overlap of characters and the author and his wife and child playing cameo roles.

The first sees a private detective protecting a young man whose father locked him away for much of his childhood. The detective becomes obsessed with the case and begins to lose his identity as the case consumes him. Loss of identity is a recurrent theme.

In the second book a young detective is asked to watch someone and report weekly on what he sees. His subject does little, barely moving from his apartment. As the months go by the question arises - who is actually keeping watch on whom?

The third book is hugely reminiscent of Alan-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes. The narrator hero-worships his school friend, Fanshawe, a young man who excels apparently effortlessly at everything he does. The two drift apart as the years go by and gradually Fanshawe draws the narrator back into his life with tragic consequences.

The New York Trilogy is fascinating at many levels - the interweaving of fictional characters with the author himself - or is it simply a character with the author's name? - the constant search for, and loss of identity, the mysterious plots. A great read and highly recommended.
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on 23 April 2009
The New York trilogy consists of three separate but sparsely connected stories. Maybe they are connected by the writer himself, maybe they are connected by someone called Paul Auster but then maybe he is not the writer. Who knows?

Well, Paul Auster surely knows because these stories skilfully probe the edges of the places where identity and character meet and sometimes merge and they are elegantly written. Paul Auster's style is lucid and crystalline and, where his stories become both clever and stylish, he avoids the trap which engulfs so many European writers: he never comes across as an intellectual smart arse or show off. His intellectual insights are genuine. They are measured and never flashy and, that in part, is also one of the reasons why I found it difficult to understand why I became both addicted to reading this book and equally puzzled as to why I felt compelled to finish it.

Maybe it is something to with the absorbing cool prose and the sense of Paul Auster's detachment from his own narrative that continues to puzzle. Maybe it is simply difficult to engage with disengagement. Who knows? Maybe I need to read it again in search of that fifth star.The book certainly warrants it. Maybe, but only long after I have finished savouring my first reading of these introspective mysteries.
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on 7 November 2013
Paul Auster's trilogy appears on many must read lists. I found parts of it a very tough read. The second part of the Trilogy, Ghosts, is particularly tricky as Blue, employed by White, is investigating Black. This is post modern detective fiction, if you know what that means and you want a challenge, give it a try.
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on 17 May 2015
I found this book a little tedious in places. The author succeeds in portraying solitude, the concept of over-thinking, something a writer must suffer from frequently, but the plot links were tenuous and the concept generally depressing. Not for me.
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