Who’s chasing who? A Review of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy


As a bibliophile (not yet to the point of bibliomania — then I guess if I thought I was it would be like thinking everyone was out to get to me when probably no one was), I embarked on the quest to read the books listed on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I am also a member of the Goodreads club of the same name.

One of the books is Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, new york trilogywhich is three novels in one—three related novels in one. Although all of the novels involve private eyes (not the bedroom version, folks), they are not your usual private detective stories. Auster’s writing is heavy on the psychological, tinkering with the characters’ minds, rather than the customary quest to solve a mystery or track down the long lost heir that a probate court says you have to find but you hope never surfaces, a cheating spouse or the host of others that James Garner Garnerin the Rockford Files was hired to find.


Some of the characters are either mentioned in all three or star in one or more. That is where it gets confusing. Keeping track of the characters and their roles is like trying to figure out one of the word puzzles in the Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT. As an example: The made-up character in novel one, Stillman, appears in the third novel as a real person. This is in addition to the actual character in novel one, Quinn, who is a private eye in the third novel. It’s like psychosis or maybe a split personality? It made me think about how Hollywood will get one actress or actor to seemingly play two roles at the same time (i.e. they are on camera at the same time).Watch BBC programming, particularly on Netflix and see how often an actor or actress appears in different television series.

What I really loved about Auster’s writing is how he used literary classics inside his stories as well as incorporating events from history and made them interesting, and mostly relevant to the storyline. New York Trilogy to me was a combination of Trivia Pursuit and Edgar Allan Poe. And, I adored Sophie in the third novel. All in all, I am not sure why it made the 1001 book list but glad I read it all the same.