28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Laughter in the dark,
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Paperback)
This is probably the most light-hearted of all Auster's novels, and yet it still begins with a line haunted by darkness and despair: "I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn....". Absolutely nobody can do those attention grabbing opening lines quite as well as Paul Auster.
Nathan Glass, retired from work, separated from his wife and now retreating from life itself, returns to the area in which he spent the first few years of his existence, looking for nothing more than a quiet time and a few peaceful years before death. Instead he finds himself trying to drag relatives and friends from the very same slough of despond into which he himself has descended. He meets up with his nephew, a once brilliant scholar who has since let himself go, and who spends most of his waking hours dreaming of the Beautiful Perfect Mother (a stunningly attractive unobtainable woman with two children whom he walks past on the way to work every morning), and Harry Brightman, a colourful 'con-man with a heart' who owns a local secondhand bookstore. Later in the novel a young girl appears, Lucy, who refuses to speak but who gives everyone a renewed purpose in life and a focus that drags them away from their own morbid introspection.
If I'm making this sound a dark and gloomy book then I couldn't be further from the truth. It's funny, tender, involving and ultimately life-affirming: look up from your own problems and concerns, look around and take an interest in the people around you, and suddenly you'll find all sorts of beautiful patterns and relationships developing in life. As usual with Auster there are plenty of colouful characters: Honey Chowder, the blousy, bright and fun daughter of a hotel owner; Rufus the transvestite drag act; Nancy the perfect beauty whose tastes don't quite run to the conventional, and David Minor, a religious fanatic who, ultimately, does the right thing in spite of all the odds.
The Brooklyn Follies is, if you like, Auster-lite. If you think you'd prefer the darker works then try The New York Trilogy or Oracle Night, but all of Auster's work is worth reading and in the pages of The Brooklyn Follies you will meet people who will stay with you, and you will come out of it with a renewed faith in mankind. Give it a go. Auster is one of the best writers out there.