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4 3 2 1 Paperback – 4 Oct 2017
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From the Inside Flap
Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.
Paul Auster's first novel in seven years. His greatest, most provocative, most heartbreaking, most satisfying work. A sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself.
On March 3rd, 1947, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born.
From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous paths.
Four Fergusons will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives.
Each version of Ferguson's story rushes across the fractured terrain of mid-twentieth century America, in this sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself.
About the Author
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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It made me laugh when the first young Ferguson has every intention of marrying his mother! What Auster does is bring home how each different decision and event changes the life of Ferguson through an intense and tumultuous period of American social and political history of the 1960s up until the early 1970s. So we get the awareness of the fate of the Rosenbergs, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the protests in which Ferguson takes part.
I found it difficult to remember which Ferguson is which at times, partly my fault but partly because whilst Ferguson has different lives, he is essentially the same person. He is a writer in every version of his life, his politics are progressive, and Amy is the girl he gets involved with albeit with differing results. He dwells on the nature of money and whether it should necessarily dictate that the family should, therefore, move into a bigger house just because they could. Auster captures the raw energy, vitality and intensity with which the young live their lives and the central role of an obsession with sex. I loved the cultural references such as the books and movies that marked the period. Different events in the family mark each Ferguson, such as the death of his father in an arson attack on the store. One Ferguson experiences an early death as a result of a lightning storm.
This is a very long and ambitious novel which might not be to everyone's taste and there are some extremely long sentences in it. I loved it, although it is not perfect and there are parts which tended to ramble a little too much. The prose is beautiful and I found the narrative a gripping read most of the time. Near the end, Auster informs us why the novel was structured as it is. Elements of the novel have been informed by the autobiographical details of the author's life. Characters from his previous novels make an appearance in this book. Auster is connecting his life's work and life brilliantly in this novel. This is essentially the story of the life and times of Paul Auster. A highly recommended read.
A tremendous education in post war American culture, politics and social history, together with a deep, critical understanding of literature. My only criticism was it was perhaps ' too literary' the authors love of writing itself and the written word were perhaps over indulged and at times obscured the dramatic narrative of Fetguson's ( the books central character) lives.
As the young Ferguson grows up from a child born in 1947 to a young man, his world opens out in four directions. As the four stories diverge, they give a fascinating picture of the changes in society in the USA in the 1950s and 60s in differing family types and income levels. No other book has given me such an understanding of the effect of the Vietnam War on young people.
The ending of the book was entirely satisfactory. Readers need only to look at Paul Auster's Wikipedia entry to learn what happened next!
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