2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Clever, moving, entertaining,
This review is from: The Book of Illusions (Paperback)
I first came to Paul Auster via the New York Trilogy and since then, while enjoying his novels, I have been vaguely disappointed that nothing quite lived up to that first thrill. I'm happy to say that the Book of Illusions is easily the most enjoyable I've read since that first encounter.
It tells the story of David Zimmer, stuck in depression after the death of his family in a plane crash, slowly drinking himself to death. It is the description of mourning and the avoidance of painful memories which is the first touching highlight.
Zimmer is saved from himself by a glimpse of a film made by an obscure silent comedian, Hector Munro. Intrigued by the fact that his apparently lost movies have been sent to museums round the world from a mysterious source, Zimmer writes an account of Munro's films. The description of the movies is wonderful, feeling utterly authentic.
Thereafter the story becomes increasingly complex, as Zimmer is invited to meet the aging film star and his wife. Initially sceptical, no one has seen Munro since the 30s, he is eventually and memorably persuaded by the entrance of the strange and beautiful Alma.
Gradually, as Zimmer is sucked into their strange world we learn the full and shocking facts of Munro's life.
There are definite echoes of the style of the New York trilogy as elements of Hector's life resonanate and correspond with Zimmer's situation.
It is a novel about loss and mourning, about the nature of artistic muse, about sin and redemption and about the endurance of work after the death of the creator.
Finally the end is deeply tragic, but also not without a touch of hope.
So, in summary, intelligent, stimulating, moving and beautifully written. Very highly recommended.