I do like Paul Auster's stories.
There is something about the solitude and the unquiet inner life of his characters that I connect to.
Even when his characters lead lives far removed from anything I could ever imagine, I still understand them. I get their motivations, their anxieties and their black view of the world.
I choose not to live in that world, even though the space between the two choices seems very narrow sometimes.
I like Paul Auster because of the affinity I feel towards him and his characters. But I also like Paul Auster for showing me why I choose the other path to live my life on.
So imagine my surprise when I read The Brooklyn Follies right through to discover that Paul Auster had written a book about happiness! With a main character that embraced the joy and the pain of intimate, complex, loving relationships!
Many online reviews suggested that this book was a sell-out on Auster's behalf. He wrote it after September 11...at his editors bequest...for money. (As if an author actually making money from his creative endeavours was somehow against the rules, unethical or a cop-out!)
No writer is free of boundaries, expectations or influences. Each book is a snapshot in the time of a writer's life. A reflection on who they are, where they are and the experiences they've had along the way.
The Brooklyn Follies was the happiness injection many people needed after September 11 - it was also the book that Auster felt that he needed to write at that time too.
And I for one thank him :-)
P.S. When I use the word 'happiness' in relation to Paul Auster, I do use it loosely. Nothing is ever easy for any of his characters...and well, you'll just have to read all the way to the end to find the little twist that takes the shine off Nathan's new-found happiness.