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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

Martine Johanna’s “The Grand Illusion of Sanity”
is the most annoying book in the world. It's a great story about love, death and work. It's got great characters, but they do the stupidest things for the stupidest reasons, or for not any reason at all. It starts with the death of a man's family and his subsequent grief. He eventually starts a project which distracts him enough that he can at least pretend to be alive. So far, so good.
    Now we get involved with the character who is central to this project, one Hector Mann, silent film star. The story goes along until we have another death and now the story starts to careen off the rails. If you are going to conceal the death, why disappear? If you are going to disappear, why bother to conceal the death? This death has apparently unhinged this guy, but not completely, just the part of his mind that makes life planning decisions.
    Anyway, the book goes on like this. We have an episode of life and then something happens and Hector takes an inexplicable left turn. This is the continuing pattern of this book, though it isn't always Hector who isn't making any sense. Each time this happens is more aggravating than the last, and each event makes me madder, so by the end I had to force myself to sit down and finish it. I mean, there are only a dozen or so pages left? How mad can they make me?
    I had to finish the book because I borrowed it from my daughter, who borrowed it from a friend and I am leaving in a few days. If I want to see how it turns out, and reassure myself that the book never redeems itself, but continues on this maddening repetition to the very end, the only way is to finish it. I am certainly not going to go to the trouble to locate a copy when I get home just so I can find out.

    People, of course, are infamous for their poor ability to think logically, and it's those lapses of reason that give us our most entertaining stories, be they books, newspapers, movies, what have you. It is an essential element of horror films and comedies, which might explain why I don't particularly care for those.
    People do inexplicable things all the time, but when someone does someone dirt, it's usually ascribed to a character flaw. I think that is the essence of what bugged me: Hector, by all accounts, is a good, upstanding, trustworthy soul, but at critical junctures he is a complete cad. But instead of condemning him, the story just goes on and starts building him up again. Or maybe that's just what happens. Maybe in day-to-day life he is a boy scout. It's only at these rare, critical junctures, that he reveals himself to be a coward. If it was a true story, it would be believable, but it's fiction, so it isn't.

P.S. I tried a new proof reading technique on this post. I had Natural Reader read it to me. It's relatively painless and I caught one typo. But then I wrote some more, so there they be more typos.

1 comment:

Ole Phat Stu said...

"...so there they be more typos."

Heh, heh, nicely illustrated ;-)