The Brooklyn Follies
By Paul Auster
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312426231, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 17, 2006
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National Bestseller A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, retired, estranged from his only daughter, the former life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Glass encounters his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, who is working in a local bookstore--a far cry from the brilliant academic career Tom had begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the colorful and charismatic Harry Brightman--a.k.a. Harry Dunkel--once the owner of a Chicago art gallery, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new circle of acquaintances. He soon finds himself drawn into a scam involving a forged page of The Scarlet Letter, and begins to undertake his own literary venture, The Book of Human Folly, an account of "every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I have committed during my long and checkered career as a man."
The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Auster's warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving, unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Oracle Night, The Book of Illusions, and Timbuktu. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
- What role does redemption play in the novel? Nathan tells us that he returned to Brooklyn because “I was looking for a quiet place to die,” and yet he manages to build a quirky, vibrant life. What are some other examples of redemption in the book?
"If you haven't read Paul Auster's fiction before, his newest novel, The Brooklyn Follies, is a great place to begin. . . . Auster has written a sublime soap opera about the ways in which people abandon and save one another. He captures a historical moment, our twisted America, and he offers a message of hope. Love will save us. We will save each other. Auster employs tough-guy talk and funny, believable stories of folly in his search for wisdom and goodness."--The Boston Globe
"Probably the first authentic attempt to deal with the post-September 11 world . . . It is a multilayered tapestry, with whimsical chapter headings and Dickensian depth."--San Francisco Chronicle
"As fate has its way with his irresistible characters, the sorcerer-like Auster rhapsodizes about nature, orchestrates unlikely love affairs and hilarious conversations, and considers such extreme experiences as a life in pornography and marriage to a tyrannical religious fanatic. . . . This addition to his increasingly tender cycle of love songs to Brooklyn is his most down-to-earth, sensuous, and socially conscious novel to date."--Booklist
"A charming, beguiling story about the terrible beauty of families and the redemptive power of love . . . His writing is packed with surprises."--USA Today
"A big-hearted, life-affirming, tenderly comic yarn . . . Suffice it to say that by the end, the partner-less are happily partnered, the long-lost are returned, and love finally flourishes where dread once thrived."--The Washington Post
"The Brooklyn Follies is another Paul Auster masterpiece."--BookPage "Paul Auster's thirty-year career has been astonishing as well: novels, screenplays, poems, essays, illustrated tales, translations, scholarly editions of French verse. He seems almost a literary decathlete, able to excel in any genre. . . . His latest novel, The Brooklyn Follies, is perhaps his most engaging and compelling story. . . . A hopeful book, a series of finely crafted interlocking stories about love--about its difficulties, about its mysteries and enormous redemptive powers."--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"Follies, like any of Auster's previous books, is impossible to put down."--Star-Telegram (Philadelphia)
"As rich in incident as it is in personalities . . . Though The Brooklyn Follies shares with Auster's other works a universe of chance encounters, the affable, forthright voice of Nathan Glass makes this novel a particular pleasure. Belief in happiness might be just another of the Brooklyn follies, but Nathan's winsome stories are an effective engine for joie de vivre. Instead of dying, the narrator brings to life a cast of buoyant Brooklynites."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"The characters shimmer, the anecdotes spark, the dialogue nimbly natters, the tale barrels along with the old-fashioned power of Nathan's lime green Oldsmobile Cutlass."--Seattle Weekly
"Is there a contemporary American novelist who believes more in the transporting, transformative power of story? No way."--Detroit Free Press
"Paul Auster reminds us that our social and emotional infrastructure can creep up on us in beautiful and unexpected ways whether we like it or not, and that accepting this process and those people can be in itself heroic. By the end of this wonderful novel, there can be no doubt that Auster's unprepossessing Nathan is a modern urban hero of a high order."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Ever since The New York Trilogy nearly twenty years ago, Auster--through dozens of books--has produced increasingly dazzling, provocative writing. He may remind readers of Franz Kafka, Nathanael West, or Philip Roth, but Auster--as brilliant postmodern parodist and satirist--is a unique talent. He may, in fact, be America's best writer."--BookPage
"Auster's prose is sharp, simple, compelling."--The Guardian (U.K.)
"The thing you want to do this winter . . . is to curl up with Paul Auster's newest novel, The Brooklyn Follies. You want to do this for the quality of the writing. You want to do it for the story. You want to do it because it's a Paul Auster book--partly metafictional, partly wry, more than partly full of chance encounters, and blessedly devoid of intellectual prattle."--Baltimore Sun
"Hucksters, people vanishing and reappearing, problems with language, the glancing invocation of those stalwarts Hawthorne and Poe and Thoreau and Whitman, whose presence is sprinkled throughout this author's body of work--yes, it's Auster. . . . A touching, even warm, story of families in recombination."--Chicago Tribune
"A teeming and exuberant novel that is sure to drive up property values in Brooklyn."--The Buffalo News
"The Brooklyn Follies is Auster at the top of his game. . . . His words are slinky and supple; his characters sing off the page. . . . Auster's meditation on happiness and encroaching age ripens each page into mellow fruitfulness. This superb novel about human folly turns out to be tremendously wise."--New Statesman