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Paul Auster's City of Glass

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kathy kk

on 5 June 2014

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Transcript of Paul Auster's City of Glass

City of Glass
exploring identity
the collapse of the self
chances and possibilities
arbitrariness, unpredictability
loss of the ability to understand
Paul Auster's
City of Glass

Paul Auster
In the world of the
City of Glass
, where coincidence and chance constantly drive the action,
almost anything is possible.
by Catherine Kehaya
Lit 7-249 American Literature and Culture: 20th Century
a postmodern work of fiction
a multi-layered book: it invites the reader to approach it from many different angles
He was born in Newark, New Jersey on February 3rd, 1947.
He has written poems, essays, novels, screenplays and translations.
He now lives in Brooklyn, New York City with his wife and two children.
He attended Columbia University, where he earned a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature in 1969.
Critical Reception
Quotes by Paul Auster
His writings blend absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning.
"Paul Auster has produced some of the most remarkable fiction of the past decade in the
New York Trilogy
Moon Palace
. Those books combined a formal complexity with sheer imaginative exuberance to produce a particularly distinctive voice".
(Guy Mannes-Abbott, 22 March 1991)
Further Reading
Auster, Paul “Interview with Larry McCaffery and Sinda Gregory.” Paul Auster. The Art of Hunger: Essays, Prefaces, Interviews and The Red Notebook. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. 277–320.
Barone, Dennis, ed. Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995.
Lewis, Barry. “The Strange Case of Paul Auster.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 14.1 (1994): 53–61.
"Ever since
City of Glass
, the first volume of his
New York Trilogy
, Auster has perfected a limpid, confessional style, then used it to set disoriented heroes in a seemingly familiar world gradually suffused with mounting uneasiness, vague menace and possible hallucination.

His plots — drawing on elements from suspense stories, existential récit, and autobiography — keep readers turning the pages, but sometimes end by leaving them uncertain about what they've
just been through".
(Michael Dirda, The Washington Post,
21 December 2003)
Quinn VS Stillman
a man of order
always trying to explain things
=> juxtaposed ideologies
2 different mentalities
Illustration by Graham Johnson
"What Stillman did on these walks remained something of a mystery to Quinn.
Stillman never seemed to be going anywhere in particular, nor did he seem to know where he was.
" (p.58)
Stillman's actions buffle Quinn:
"Either Stillman knew what he was doing or he didn't. And if he didn't, then Quinn was going nowhere, was wasting his time.
How much better was it to believe that all his steps were actually
to some purpose". (p.61)
Quinn decided to record every
detail about Stillman he possibly could:
He took note of Stillman's gestures, described
each object he picked up and kept an accurate timetable for all events. (p.62)

He also noted each street Stillman followed, each turn he made and each pause that occured:
Quinn refused to believe the arbitrariness of Stillman's actions.
"He wanted there to be a sense to them, no matter how obscure"
As he became embroiled in the case, Quinn gradually descended into madness:
"He arrived in a neverland of fragments, a place of wordless things and thingless words."

He directed his first motion picture in 1995.
Auster gained publicity after his highly praised debut novel
The Invention of Solitude
, a memoir published in 1982.
Little, William G. "Nothing to go on: Paul Auster's City of Glass." Contemporary Literature 38.1 (1997): 133.
Alford, Steven E. “Spaced-Out: Signification and Space in Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy.” Contemporary Literature 36.4 (1995): 613-32.
it challenges the conventional notions of character and plot
Full transcript