Book review – ‘City of Glass’ by Paul Auster

Rating: 4/5 stars


“A detective-story writer named Quinn becomes involved in a bizarre case. A phone call from a man who believes someone is trying to kill him leads to a case more mysterious than anything Quinn could concoct. In this tale of strange reversals and shifts of identity, a character named “Paul Auster” makes an appearance as a man obsessed with Quinn’s story.”

My first response having read this novel was “I loved it but I didn’t understand it!” and, to be fair, that remains my overall impression. I think it’s a novel that can be enjoyed on many, many levels but the best way to enjoy it is to go with the flow. I doubt anyone understands everything, if everything can even be understood, and perhaps the best thing to do is just read without attempting to make sense of every plot point.
That said, Auster’s novel asks the reader to engage with the lead character, an author, as he takes on the role of a detective, also, confusingly, called Paul Auster. Despite his lack of ‘real’ qualifications, the character is keen to solve the mystery and become Auster the detective and we struggle alongside him even as the detective genre is turned on its head.
I wouldn’t have read this book if it wasn’t set as a part of my Cities and Cultures (Urban Studies) class but I am so pleased that I did. It’s got some elegant writing and some really interesting and unusual views into humanity. As a source for that course it was worthwhile but as a novel in its own right it was fascinating. This hardly counts as a review because I don’t know how to sum it up, certainly not without spoiling the plot or becoming overly academic due to studying it, but there we go!
City of Glass is available as part of the New York Trilogy in both Kindle and Paperback format from Amazon.

I read this book for my Cities and Cultures class and therefore scheduled this review to post after the course finished so there was no risk of self plagiarising should I have been called to write on it!

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