[Review] Sunset Park: A Novel by Paul Auster

Title: Sunset Park: A Novel
Author: Paul Auster
Genre: Literary Fiction
Subject: American Literature, Guilt, Fathers and Sons, Brooklyn NY
Page: 309 pages
First Published: 2010

I discovered Paul Auster in 2010 and read quite a number of his books since my favorite so far being The Book of Illusions. So when his new book, Sunset Park came out just recently, I straight away went to the bookstore to get it in Hardcover edition.
Something you should know about me, I usually buy paperbacks for the mere reason that they are lighter and cheaper but I do make an exception from time to time =) 
Sunset Park is a convoluted story about the struggles of a set of characters squatting in an abandoned house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn during the tumultuous economic crisis in 2008:
  1. Miles Heller: The anchor of the story, son of a distinguished book publisher and a celebrated actor, has been running away from his promising future and family for seven years following the death of his step-brother (which he blamed it on himself).
  2. Bing Nathan: Miles’ childhood friend, the leader of the gang in the decrepit squalor in Sunset Park. A man of eccentric characteristics: “the warrior of outrage, the champion of discontent, the militant debunker of contemporary life…” who detests cell phones, computers and everything digital.
  3. Alice Bergstrom: A student working on her dissertation, obsessed with the “generation of silent men” whose sense of self was altered following the events of WWII.
  4. Ellen Brice: A lonely real-estate agent with a past of her own, on her way to reinventing herself as an artist by mastering the art of drawing human bodies.
  5. Other characters: Morris Heller, haunted by the memory of his son Miles, struggles to keep his book publishing business going and save his marriage.
From the beginning, the story draws me in largely due to the comprehensive character study and as I read the voices of these “damaged” people struggling with their own baggage from the past, I established a connection with each one of them (Miles Heller speaks to me louder than the rest of them). And that’s what I always look for in a novel.

The style of writing is typical of Paul Auster and just like the other works, he interweaves the story with loose references from films, art, books, sports, etc. This is a straightforward novel, you will be able to guess where the story is heading to but it speaks to me on so many levels compared to other Paul Auster’s novel. And he has the ability to make even the most banal sentences seem beautiful. Some quotes from the book:
“It was the best thing that could have happened to him, it was the worst thing that could have happened to him”.

“… but in the end books are not luxuries so much as necessities, and reading is an addiction he has no wish to be cured of.”
I enjoyed this novel as I have always enjoyed anything by Paul Auster. And while I hate spoiling the ending for everyone, the only jarring comment I have is that the ending is rather abrupt and leaves me with more questions than I have at the beginning.


La Toya said…
Hey! Thanks for your comment on my blog! I loved this review. I had no idea this book existed. I'm from Brooklyn & live there currently and would be interested to read a book that takes place in Sunset Park.

I also enjoyed your quotes. Will check this one out!
This is a great novel. I went to school in Troy, NY many years ago, though I only stayed there for just 4 years, the city has been very dear to me and would like to go back there some day =)
Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I'm now following yours :)

I do actually really want to try the Poirot series and recently bought "Death on the Nile". I hope I enjoy it!

And I see you're currently reading "A Week in December". I'll look forward to your review of it because it's sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.
Jenny said…
I have yet to read a Paul Aster but have a few on my TBR (on my New York shelf). This definitely sounds like one I'd like. I really like that last quote!!
Sam: I'm almost halfway through "A Week in December" but frankly, I'm kinda struggling with it.

Jenny: I think the last quote speaks for everyone who loves book!!
Nina B. said…
I loved your review, it's really awesome and thorough.

Thank your for dropping by my blog, and I'm sorry you couldn't participate :-( you know you can always use my own theme for your 10 Good Things... But I do hope your week improves and I'll see you next week :D

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