Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Brooklyn Follies

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The Brooklyn Follies

by Paul Auster

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 320 pages

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Beyond the Book

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Paul Benjamin Auster was born on February 3, 1947 in Newark, New Jersey.  His father, Samuel Auster, was a landlord; his mother, Queenie was about 13 years younger than her husband; the marriage was not a happy one.

Auster's passion for reading began when he was about 12 and his uncle, Allen Mandelbaum (a professor of Italian literature, a poet, and a prolific translator) left several boxes of books in storage in the Auster's house while he traveled to Europe.  Paul read the books avidly and developed an interest in writing and literature that further accentuated his feeling that he was "an internal émigré, an exile in my own house." (from his memoir, Hand to Mouth)

He went to school in Maplewood, New Jersey and then to Columbia University.  In 1967 he left the USA to attend Columbia's Junior Year Abroad in Paris, but found it uninspiring and undemanding so quit college and lived in a small hotel in Paris, before returning to the USA where he was reinstated at Columbia.  A high lottery number saved him from worrying too much about being drafted during the Vietnam War.  Instead he took a job with the Census Bureau and began working on In The Country of Last Things and Moon Palace, which he would not finish until many years later.   In the early 70s he moved to France where he worked as a translator. He returned to the USA in 1974. 

In 1979 his father died leaving him an inheritance that, although not huge, was sufficient to alleviate his immediate money worries and allow him to focus on his writing; Over a 30 year career he has published many volumes of poetry and essays, plus about 20 novels which have been translated into about thirty languages. He is arguably best known for his three experimental detective stories collectively referred to as The New York Trilogy (City of Glass, 1985; Ghosts, 1986; The Locked Room, 1986). He lives in Brooklyn, New York. More about Auster at BookBrowse.

Coming Soon: Travels in the Scriptorium (Jan '07):
"While Auster's lean, poker-faced prose creates a satisfyingly claustrophobic allegory, the tidy, self-referential ending lends a writing-exercise patina to the work." - PW.
"Rarely has a novelist pulled the strings of his puppetry more transparently, as ardent fans may find this meta-fictional fable profound, while others may dismiss it as a literary parlor trick." - Kirkus.

This article was originally published in January 2006, and has been updated for the October 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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