The Best Years of Our Lives: Background information when reading Sunset Park

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Sunset Park

A Novel

by Paul Auster

Sunset Park
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2010, 320 pages
    Oct 2011, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Best Years of Our Lives

Alice Bergstrom, one of the characters in Sunset Park, is writing her dissertation on the film The Best Years of Our Lives. Almost everyone in the book has either seen it already or watches it with her so she can add their reactions to her observations. Auster draws many parallels between the story in the film and the story of his contemporary characters.

The film follows the lives of three WWII veterans who meet on their way home from the war. They become friends, and we watch them and their families as they try to return to their regular lives. Each comes home with different wounds - some physical, some emotional - and each has difficulty adjusting. Jobs are lost, marriages dissolve, but there is hope.

In his review of the film, Roger Ebert notes that it "doesn't use verbal or technical pyrotechnics. It trusts entirely in the strength of its story." He believes that the film feels modern, not dated like most films from more than sixty years ago, because it makes no effort...

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