The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster


Hector Mann, a lesser known comedic actor before the advent of talkies, disappears one day in 1928 without a trace. He’s been given up for dead for more than half a century, forgotten like the world of silent films. One night a suicidal professor, David Zimmer, is up late watching a documentary on silent films, where a snippet of one of Hector’s films is shown, making it the first time Zimmer has laughed since the death of his family in a freak plane crash. He becomes taken up with the mystery of Mann and decides to write a book about him. A few months after publication, Zimmer receives a letter from Mann’s wife asking him to come out and meet Hector. Zimmer finally decides to exit his hermit’s life and go back out into society in order to finally figure out who the mysterious Mann is and why he disappeared so long ago.

The Book of Illusions was an okay read. I think part of the reason I didn’t love the book is that once you read a few Auster novels they start to get jumbled up in your head a bit. They may follow different mysteries, but they all have a very similar feel (which happens with a lot of authors, not just Auster). And then the end took a very melodramatic turn (and this, for a book that begins with a plane crash and suicide attempts!) which I didn’t care for. So all in all I didn’t think it was a waste of time to read the book, but I’d still stick with recommending Moon Palace for anyone who is interested in reading Auster (maybe because that was my first book by him and his ideas still seemed fresh and exciting. Or maybe it was just a better book.)

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