An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Moon Palace by Paul Auster

Moon Palace is novel of searching. When we discover that our hero's name is Marco Stanley Fogg the signpost is well and truly planted. Marco Polo, Henry Morton Stanley and Phileas Fogg could hardly be associated with much else. When we then discover that he refers to himself as MS we get the secondary reference: man as an unfinished book - writing himself as he goes. Now, given that M S Fogg is an orphan it is quite clear that we shall be having a story of a man seeking his father and his identity that will feature book quite heavily - Auster likes his heres literary where possible. And so it goes. Auster's twist here is that he finds not only his father but his father's lost father too. Auster is in love with the list of three and the trilogy as an idea so the fact that we end up with the father, the son, and the grandfather is no surprise. Auster takes us and his hero through adventures with books, adventures in the wild west, and adventures with his father to arrive at M S Fogg finding himself having lost his antecedents.

Paul Auster is a very good writer. I was going to refer in this review to two previous reviews that I have written of his works: New York Trilogy and Oracle Nights but it transpires that while I wrote the reviews (in my head - which is where my composition actually happens) I have never written them down or should that be written them out, or published them. Which is a shame but not a disaster. To summarise I loved New York Trilogy which is a trio of novellas and I felt that Oracle Nights while good would have been better as a set of novellas. The same criticism, if it is a criticism applies to Moon Palace. It is essentially three novellas telling what is essentially the same story. After 90 pages or so I felt that the point was made and the text complete. I could see the joins where Auster has glued the three stories "together" into a "novel" and I resented it as a a writer. I suspect that Auster's publishers encourage him to write novel length fiction when his real strength is the novella. Alternatively he has not come to terms with his own metier. By all means tell me the same tale 3 ways - I'm happy with that but don't gussy it up and tell me it's a traditional novel.

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