Monday, March 9, 2009




The audiobook of MAN IN THE DARK by Paul Auster was an interesting as well as riveting experience. Not one to listen to many books, rather preferring to read them myself, I was at first slow to get into the story. I almost thought of stopping as I would listen to Paul Auster read his unique tale with a voice quality to match the genre, but suddenly found myself wanting to know what happened to Owen Brick. Owen Brick is the main character in the mind of August Brill. August is the “real main character” in MAN IN THE DARK who the story revolves around, or is he? He is a seventy-two year old award winning literary critic who was in a car accident and is recovering in his daughter’s home. His wife’s recent death is the reason he is with his daughter, Miriam, and granddaughter Katya in Vermont. He is bedridden and wheelchair bound and spends most of his time “in the dark” dreaming of a story about Owen Brick. This story within a story is interesting to follow as you almost think for most of the book that you are just switching from one story to another until things begin to overlap somewhat and blend and you almost wonder how much of Owen’s story is somewhat of an allegory to August’s life.

The audiobook opens with Owen Brick finding himself in a deep hole, dressed as a soldier in fatigues, and not knowing how he got there. It proceeds from there to tell how he has somehow entered a parallel universe to the one he really lives in and doesn’t understand what has happened. Different from his regular life in New York where he lives with his wife, he finds himself in a United States that is not at war with Iraq but rather with itself…a second civil war. Owen is a soldier sent to assassinate someone and how he manages in this new found world is an intriguing story that grabs you before you know it. Owen’s story, with Paul Auster’s somewhat gravely voice, draws you in and I found myself almost as upset as Owen at times while listening but not minding it or wanting it to stop. I had to remember it was just a story and to shake it off when I turned the story off, but was also always eager to get back in my car to hear more. While August more and more wants to continue his story of Owen, the reader also wants to continue to listen to find out what will happen next to both Owen and August.

Just when you really get into a part of Owen’s story, Paul Auster takes you back to August Brill who is making up the story and tells what is going on in his life. He spends time with his granddaughter, Katya, watching old movies and analyzing them. His daughter Miriam is divorced and bitter while Katya is somewhat introverted and rightfully sad as a result, we find out later in the story, about her boyfriend having been murdered. This part of the story is somewhat disturbing but told with such realism you are again taken into August’s “real” world just as much as you are into Owen’s world.

The title of MAN IN THE DARK is very fitting as you will find out because of each character being in the dark in some way in the story. Each has a strong will to live but also to find out what life is all about and what part their pasts play in it. Auster has written a great character study that is enjoyable and intriguing on many levels. I think MAN IN THE DARK is a book the reader will be glad they stayed with long enough to get into as it will leave them with questions about their own life but also the experience of a very stimulating read.


Serena said...

I need you to email your snail mail address for The Kingmaking to savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com today!

Bingo said...

I sent it again, Serena. Did you get it this time?

Anonymous said...

Interesting review! And in other news, I discovered if I drag down your page with the mouse and hold it, and then unhold it and so on, I can make the letter dance differently! (Amazing how one will spend one's time!)

Ladytink_534 said...

I get audiobooks occasionally to let them read to me while I follow along in the book. It helps when I'm really frazzled and can't concentrate very well.

Bingo said...

This one made me keep coming back to find out what was going to happen to Owen Brick even though I wasn't sure at first I like the story, it drew me in!