Gerry itibaren Saint-Juvin, Fransa
hikayeyi seviyorum: D diyebileceğim başka bir şey yok
Is there a writer out there, dead or alive, whose name reflects his writing style more accurately than Paul Auster? I mean really—add the most commonly used letter in the English language to his last name and you’ve got the perfect adjective for the man’s prose. The Book of Illusions is the fourth Auster novel I’ve read (or sixth, depending on how you count The New York Trilogy) and by this point, even if I had not seen his name (prominently displayed!) on the cover, I wouldn’t have had to read more than the first paragraph to identify it as his work. With Auster, it’s all right there on the page in front of you—everything you need, and nothing you don’t. His sentences are so crisp and simple to read that one comfortably races through his novels without knowing it. And yet, maybe that a/Austerity just an illusion, a false lead, a cunning pun to lure the reader in and at the same time throw him off completely. What’s so impressive to me about Auster is how he manages to suggest an incredible amount of mystery and confusion in such superficially straightforward sentences (S x4!). The question of who’s who, exactly, in The Book of Illusions is not quite as complicated or, frankly, bizarre as in The New York Trilogy, but it is still difficult to describe without a brief plot summary. The narrator, college literature professor David Zimmer, is depressed and near-suicidal following the deaths of his wife and children in a plane accident. He begins working on and publishes a book analyzing the work of the relatively obscure silent film actor Hector Mann (whom everyone has presumed dead for fifty years). David begins working on his next project—a translation of the 19th Century French writer Chateaubriand’s memoirs. What interests David (and, of course, the reader) about the memoirs is that Chateaubriand wrote them with the intention that they would be published fifty years after his death; thus, in effect, Chateaubriand is writing from the grave. As he nears the end of the translation, David is contacted by Hector Mann (who is actually alive but on his deathbed) and invited to visit him in New Mexico to view several never-seen-by-anyone-else films produced in hiding. David must hurry because Hector, pulling a Kafka, has instructed in his will that the films be destroyed completely upon his death. You can begin to see how some of the blurring occurs: David is so depressed he is nearly dead; his vitality is restored by intensely studying the films of a man presumed dead but in fact still alive; he hears word from this man while translating the autobiography of another man who wrote as though he were already dead. In a way, life and death become less discrete. The event of death, whether actual or presumed, does not prevent individuals from affecting, influencing, coloring the living. Auster also highlights the gray area between fact and fiction. During his brief period of moderate stardom, Hector Mann was the subject of several interviews, and each time he provided contradictory information about his birth, childhood, and rise to Hollywood. After his disappearance, through both deliberate intent and coincidental accident, these stories, or “lies,” about his past become… well, let’s say, “less false.” Fiction turns into a kind of reality. And oppositely, Hector also manages to turn reality into fiction. There is a fascinating passage in which David describes how the reality of a landscape turns into a fictional world through the lens of the camera in one of Hector’s secret movies. All this happens, of course, in a novel—a literary form in which a fiction is presented as reality. Or is it, reality is presented as fiction? Either way, Auster succeeds tremendously. The sections in which David describes and analyzes Hector Mann films are stunningly convincing; not only can I picture the films in my head, but I feel certain that they must exist somewhere, so thoroughly are they dissected. It reminded me of several short stories by Borges. I should also note here that while Hector Mann is a fictional character, Chateaubriand was a real author in the nineteenth century, and the work David translates is quite real. At the same time, one can empathize with David as he struggles with all these questions, stories, and mysteries. The Book of Illusions is at times comic and other times quite bleak. You tell me—is that fiction presented as reality, or vice versa?