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The Book of Illusions Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571276636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571276639
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A nearly flawless work . . . Auster will be remembered as one of the great writers of our time."--"San Francisco Chronicle ""Mr. Auster's elegant, finely calibrated "Book of Illusions "is a haunting feat of intellectual gamesmanship."--"The New York Times ""This noirish, layered tale will keep you guessing to the very end."--"Time Out New York "

Book Description

The Book of Illusions is one of Paul Auster's greatest novels, now in a stunning new look.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Zimmer, the protagonist in Paul Auster's compelling and elegant new novel, The Book of Illusions, finds solace from the grief of losing his wife and two sons in a plane crash by immersing himself in the films of silent comedy star, Hector Mann. An academic by profession, David writes a critical study of Mann's films, but, as the book is published, he is contacted by sources who claim that Hector Mann, who hasn't been seen for almost sixty years and is presumed dead, is alive and living in New Mexico. Fuelled by the desire to resolve the puzzle of Hector's missing years, David travels to the ranch where Hector now lives and where he and his wife have spent the last six decades making mysterious films that have never been screened in public.
The unswerving compulsion to unearth, and ultimately understand, another person's identity is a theme that Auster returns to frequently in his work, in novels such as New York Trilogy and Leviathan, and yet here it is more brilliantly realised than ever. The story-within-a-story motif is ever-present but the different strands are so ingeniously interwoven that this familiar technique never seems predictable or tired. Also present is Auster's continuing fascination with the medium of film - he has written several successful screenplays for films such as Smoke and Blue in the Face - and he provides exquisitely detailed descriptions of several of Hector Mann's films.
Brimming with plot twists and turns, The Book of Illusions is a gripping, page-turning literary mystery story, but it is also a complex and genuinely moving meditation on the nature of identity and how any attempt to live vicariously through another's life will always be doomed to failure.
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By A Customer on 23 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'm a firm fan of Auster's novels - Leviathan is my favorite. While I enjoyed this, his latest, and have been interested to see it described by some critics as his best - for me this was a slight disappointment.
The premise is interesting, the characters are well drawn and during some sections (notably the story of Hector Mann's disappearing act) I sped through it fast. Ultimatley, however, I didn't really feel Auster was offering me anything new here. Perhaps the scope was not large enough, perhaps the themes were a little too familiar, or maybe having read some of his other novels my expectations have become a little high. Of course (and I hate to admit it) maybe I just missed something!
Make no mistake, this is a good novel, and very well written, but compared to some of his others I found myself strangley uninvolved. I would recommend Leviathan or Moon Palace over this.
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Format: Hardcover
Auster has done it again. An intricate story line of parallel life experiences interwined with the stange world of coincidence.
He leads you through back alleys, which you are sure to think are dead ends. Then as the last few pages are read the mist rises.
There is little point of going into names, plot, blar, blar, blar... just read it!
Not a 5 rating because this is reserved for the Auster's best, which has to be The New York Triology, but a delightful read with the unmistakable Auster formula (that I can't get enough of!)...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A study of bereavement
Paul Auster is a very clever writer and I enjoyed reading an author who was unfamilar to me, but I found moments of longeur in this book possibly because the main protagonist lacked empathy and had strong OCD tendencies. The book charts his breakdown over the death of his wife and sons and how he numbs his grief by immersing himself in the work of a lesser known actor of the silent film era, Hector Mann. By 'immerse', I mean we get a blow by blow analysis of every film this man has made. I felt that the knowledge of movie-making and of the life of Cateaubriand (another of his attempts to repress grief is to translate the 800 page Chateaudriand Memoir - 'Notes form the Grave') showed a lot of, possibly autobiographical, knowledge but did not make the central character sympathetic. At the end of the book, the pace quickens as the protagonist comes into contact with the dieing film artist, Hector, and he spends a surreal 24 hours on Hector's hidden ranch in New Mexico. Much of what happens to the central charater has symbolic and metaphorical significance but I did find myself a lot of the time quite confused as to what these signifiers were.
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Format: Paperback
Auster is one of the most critically acclaimed modern novelists of the United States. His novels are always complex and erudite and he loves modern American history and culture which serve as the backdrop for most of his stories. The book of illusions is for me his masterwork. It purports to be the biography of a silent movie star of the second rank, Hector Mann, who vanished mysteriously one day in 1929. There is so much to like and admire about the book, that I'm tempted merely to say "You must read it" and leave it there, but there are two qualities I must mention. The first is that Auster achieves a breathtaking atmosphere of authenticity about silent movie making and, in later decades, film scholarship of the silent era. The second is that his writing combines the clarity and simplicity of the very best journalism with literary and poetic decoration that both entertain and leave you gasping in admiration at his originality.
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