Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Music of Chance

I want to visit Brooklyn.

I want to go there and find out where Paul Auster lives and just hang out in front of his house. Maybe sit on a stoop and read while I wait. I hear Brooklyn is lousy with stoops. And then, when he leaves to walk up to the corner store, or to the office I've read he keeps nearby for writing, I'll walk with him. I'll tell him thanks for what he does and for his imagination.

That's all.

I won't wait for him to buy his cigarettes or beer or light bulbs, or whatever he's getting at the store. I won't hang around until he finishes up his day of work because, as much as I respect what he does, I respect his need for solitariness. It's what he writes about so much after all, men who are alone, either by choice or the will of someone or something else.

That's how it is in The Music of Chance, which I've just finished. The reader gets inside of the main character, Jim Nashe's, head because that's where so much of the story takes place. From the very first when his wife leaves him and he comes into an inheritance allowing him to drive across country and back again, as though it's a compulsion. And it is, to keep moving forward, alone, becomes an addiction for Nashe and the first third of the book is his travels. And then he meets young Jack Pozzi - Jackpot, as he's known - and things change. Things stop.

And I'll stop there because to say more would give away too much of this story.

I love reading Auster because he puts us so much in the mind of a writer. He makes us feel what it's like to sit in a room alone with a typewriter and imagine a man and a wager and a stone wall.

I love, too, that he's written so much (more than a dozen novels, collections of poetry, screenplays, essays) and I've read relatively little of it. It's exciting to know there's so much more out there for me. I found my copy of The Music of Chance at Second Editions, the used bookstore inside the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, recently when I stopped by for work. It's a very good condition hardback Faber and Faber Limited edition that was published for Great Britain.

I don't seek out an Auster novel, but I keep my eyes open for them in any used bookstore I happen into. That's the best way to discover his work - in a dusty bookstore, among stacks and stacks of old books, all alone.