26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The Mellowing of Paul Auster,
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.