Not sure why this 866 page doorstopper is on the Mann Booker shortlist. It has been called a “quadrophonic bildungsroman” of, in my opinion a self-absorbed white male writer. The problem is that it’s hard to care about any of the four Archie Fergusons. I understand the writer’s conceit is the that core of your character is set early in life and is relatively impervious to various circumstances life throws at you. I have some admiration for Auster’s ability to take a set of facts and weave four different stories. The background of the story, the politics, the music, the zeitgeist, is the tapestry of of any baby boomer’s life, and yet he can’t manage but a cursory nod to the condition of women and the powerful changes that took place for us in this period. This book reminds me of why, as a baby boomer feminist, I consciously read fiction written only by women for a period of more than ten years.

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