By Paul Auster
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312610678, 320pp.)
The Short of It:
Mesmerizing prose with angst at its core. Auster’s skill as a writer somehow conveys all of the insecurities we feel as adults and reminds us that we are vulnerable, fragile individuals.
The Rest of It:
Miles Heller is twenty-eight-years-old and educated, but can’t seem to find the motivation to do anything. Just a few credits shy of getting his degree, he’d rather take odd jobs and ponder life and love than become a productive member of society.
After floundering around for what seems like quite a long time, Miles falls in love with Pilar. Pilar is not yet eighteen which makes her a dangerous obsession. Especially in the eyes of her family, who see the relationship as doomed from day one. After a run-in with Pilar’s sister, Miles escapes to Brooklyn, thinking it would be good to wait until Pilar hits legal age. Then, and only then, will he ask her to marry him.
In Brooklyn, he joins a group of young squatters who are holed up in an abandoned building in an area known as Sunset Park. Living rent-free, they go about their lives, knowing that at any moment, they could be forcibly removed. The precarious nature of their living arrangement is a constant reminder that the future is always moving forward and change is just around the corner.
Set during the 2008 economic collapse, this is a story of love, loss and regret and what it means to be a part of something; be it big or small. The story is mainly character-driven, no huge plot points to speak of, but after just a few pages, I found that I liked Miles quite a bit. He is technically, a good guy. A bit confused and struggling to find himself, but essentially good. Although my life experiences differ from his, I found that I could easily relate to what he was feeling at any given point. I attribute that to Auster’s writing style.
That said, I was completely taken aback by the ending. The ending was appropriate, but it was sudden. There I was, hanging on Auster’s every word, and then poof, the novel ended. What occurred to me later is that although the novel ended, the story continued. Those characters are left to continue on with their lives and as a reader, all I could do was wish them well.
I’ve read one other Auster book, Invisible and I recall a similar feeling with that one, but I liked it very much and I can say the same for this one. Sunset Park wasn’t at all what I expected it to be, but it was well worth the read and to be honest, it’s nice to be surprised once in a while.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.