I haven’t done a book review for a while but I’ve just finished Paul Auster’s “The Book of Illusions” and I’m inspired.
It starts out as a story of grief. Our hero, David, loses his wife and two boys in a plane crash. One night – in a haze of alcoholic despair – he sees a snippet of an old Hector Mann black and white film which makes him laugh – for the first time since the tragedy. He becomes obsessed with the 12 films that were made by Hector Mann – and travels the world to see and study them and ends up writing a book.
He finds out that Hector disappeared after only one year of making films and so is shocked when he receives an invitation to meet Hector, who has read his book and wants to show him the films he has made, films that will be destroyed on his death.
The plot twists and turns – there’s love, passion, grief, surprise, shock, despair. There are the intertwined stories of the movies, and David’s and Hector’s lives.
It is brilliantly written and compelling to read.
This is the second Paul Auster novel I’ve read. The first, “Oracle Night” was equally brilliant. In that novel our hero is also recovering – this time from a near fatal illness. He’s a writer and has not been able to write since hospital until he picks up this notebook which seems to inspire him. Again we get the intertwining of stories – the main narrative with the parallel plot of the story being written by the protagonist.
In both the heroes are deeply flawed characters and yes in many ways the devices Paul uses – the intertwining of plots – are the same. I can only tell you that you are completely drawn into novels and are captive until the last page.
I have discovered that the movie he describes in The Book of Illusions – “The Inner Life of Martin Frost” is now being made. I hope to see it in the new year.