Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

It's been quiet here lately. There have been concerts, alt J and Leonard Cohen namely, but they both failed to move me, for different reasons. One concert entirely lacked feeling and pathos while the other one had too much of it, with sugar on top (also, when people next to you do the cryptic crossword waiting for the concert to begin, you kinda start to wonder if you're not too young for this).

I've been just so busy with... life, I guess. The kids and school runs and groceries and cooking and friends and a job that occupies a large part of my mind in a good way. So I've been doing a lot of thinking and researching policies and politics, ideas and abstract concepts, but not much immersing myself in a good story.

And then I came across this on Rozelle markets. I've loved Paul Auster for a long time, since reading the amazing and disturbing City of Glass, first part of his New York Trilogy. And just now I've discovered that he has also written the screenplay for two movies I loved, Smoke and its follow-up Blue in the Face.

I'm not going to reveal much of the plot of Sunset Park, just that it is about twenty-eight year old Miles who has fled New York and his family after a tragic event he has caused seven years ago. Now he lives in sweltering Florida, taking photos of abandoned houses. He stays because he has fallen in love with a teenage girl, Pilar. When he is blackmailed by Pilar's sister, he is forced to return to New York. There, he settles in an illegal squat with two women and a man and prepares himself to face his father and the past he has been avoiding for years.

Sunset Park is the seventh novel from Paul Auster I've read. Reading it feels like coming home, recognising a kindred spirit on an almost instinctive level. It is a book about loss and forgiveness, about love and loneliness. It is intelligent, it is tragic, it is articulate like all of Auster's work, and it has the immediacy of living inside the protagonists heads, even more so as Auster switches perspectives in each chapter. And then there's the clarity and beauty of his prose, the simple elegance and rhythmic cadence of his sentences.

It all just reminds me why I love books so much. No matter how busy life gets, there is always enough time to lose oneself in a good story.

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