Wednesday, November 13th, 2002
The New York Trilogy
Okay, so The New York Trilogy. Ostensibly, it’s three individual detective stories. Only it’s not, not hardly at all. City Of Glass is about a writer who through a case of crossed wires and mistaken identity, becomes a private investigator looking into a plan to rebuild the Tower of Babel in New York City. Ghosts is about another private investigator named Blue who is hired by a man named White and assigned the task of watching a man named Black, day in day out, in his apartment on Orange St. The Locked Room is about a writer who becomes the executor of a vanished friend’s estate, including all his unpublished novels, plays and poems.
These stories share a common theme of obsession, identity and perception. In each story, the protagonist tries to understand the minds and motivations of their quarry, usually at great cost to themselves. The mystery isn’t in ‘what did he do and how did he do it’, but ‘who is he and why does he do it’. While each story stands up as its own entity, tied together (as they are in The Locked Room), they also exist as facets of the same story, intertwined in ways that I couldn’t explain even if I wanted to.
There’s so much going on in these stories on so many levels. It’s to Auster’s credit as a storyteller that they can be appreciated individually as fine works of fiction on the most basic narrative level, but it’s in the grander scheme of a unified whole that The New York Trilogy really impresses.
I liked this book. Recommended, but be prepared to invest some grey matter in this one.
np – Galaxie 500 / On Fire