De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu à votre guise, mais enivrez-vous ! Charles Baudelaire
A few words, first. I had warned you months ago that I wanted to write some articles in English, when I happen to read books in this very beautiful langage. So, here we are. Please forgive my mistakes, for I haven’t written in English for a long time (four or five months, actually). So let’s begin with Mr Paul Auster.
One cannot talk of Paul Auster without evoking New-York, nor can we talk of « NY literature » without naming Auster. The man and the city are so linked that we can consider New-York a full character of his books. In Brooklyn Follies, New-York is even in the very title of the book.
Brooklyn Follies is the story of Nathan Glass, nearly sixty, who has lost everything he owned : his wife, his health, his daughter. Now that he has retired and that his cancer has backed off, he is left alone with his thoughts. And Nathan Glass wants to die. Brooklyn appears to be the perfect place to him. Why Brooklyn ? Because Nathan was born in this part of New-York which seems to be fully apart of the city. In Brooklyn, Nathan happens to meet his nephew Tom by chance. Tom used to be a very brilliant student that was to become a bright teacher. But everything went bad and Tom ended up a taxi driver for a living. As uncle and nephew get back in touch, different people start sharing their lives : Harry the bookseller, Lucy the little girl who wouldn’t talk, Nancy, the beautiful unknown mother…
Clearly, Brooklyn follies is as much a book about New-York that a book about friendship and family ties. Nathan’s family is not the easiest one : his daughter won’t talk to him, his ex-wife is loathable, his niece Rory has always been a matter of worry. However, with his nephew Tom and Lucy, Rory’s daughter, he manages to build a small nucleus of love. Throughout the book, Nathan will learn that life is still worth living, no matter what you have been through previously. It can be seen as lesson of courage. Not very like Paul Auster, from what I have read from him so far but nevermind. It works. You sympathizes with poor Nathan or the sweet Tom, and you really want to know what has become of Rory.
Though the story mainly takes place in Brooklyn, you don’t have the feeling to be in New-York. What stroke me the most was the part of the book that takes place in Vermont. Nathan, Tom and Harry have a dream, the dream of an hotel where you can withdraw from the world. I loved the idea of a place you can model according to your wish, a place where you deeply belong to. However, all dreams are not bound to become true and Nathan will learn that as well. Indeed, one can be optimistic, but should not be naive. Harry is the perfect instance of this.
I did not know what to expect from this book : I did not find it as good as the New-York trilogy, which was on the top list of the best books ever written about New-York, but it was a nice moment of reading. The only thing that bothered me was the end, maybe a little too corny, even if the final sentences were absolutely great.