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Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
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Man in the Dark (2008)

by Paul Auster

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English (61)  French (5)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (78)
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Nur eine Nacht umfasst die Rahmenhandlung dieses Buches, doch die Geschichten die darin erzählt werden, würden locker für eine ganze Woche ausreichen.
August Brill, 72jähriger verwitweter Literaturkritiker, lebt seit einem Unfall der ihn zum Krüppel machte, bei seiner geschiedenen Tochter Miriam, die ebenso unglücklich ist wie er. Zu den Beiden gesellt sich noch Augusts Enkelin Katya, Miriams Tochter, die sich die Schuld am Tod ihres Ex-Freundes gibt und deren Lebensenergie gerade noch dazu ausreicht, sich gemeinsam mit ihrem Großvater Filme anzuschauen. Wie in fast jeder Nacht kann Brill nicht schlafen und so beginnt er, sich eine Geschichte auszudenken um möglichen Erinnerungen (und ganz besonders einer bestimmten) aus dem Weg zu gehen. Owen Brick lebt mit seiner Frau ein normales kleines Leben bis er sich eines Morgens in einer Grube wiederfindet, gekleidet in eine Soldatenuniform. Nach und nach wird ihm klar, dass er sich in einer Parallelwelt befindet - aber noch immer in der gleichen Zeit und im gleichen Land. Dort herrscht ein Sezessionskrieg, der schon Tausende Menschen das Leben gekostet hat. Und Owen wurde dazu ausgewählt, diese Barbarei zu beenden. Doch dafür muss er einen Menschen töten...
Wie schon erwähnt, ist dies nicht die einzige Geschichte des Buches. Brill schreckt immer wieder aus seiner Phantasie auf und verliert sich dann in Erinnerungen, in denen ebenfalls wieder Geschichten erzählt werden, die ohne weiteres die Grundlage für ein eigenes Buch sein könnten.
Es sind traurige Erzählungen, die aber zumindest ein kleines bisschen Trost enthalten: die Frau deren Mann verschwand, sie aber immer liebte; der SS-Offizier der das junge Mädchen hoffnungslos liebte und ihr und ihrer Familie zur Flucht verhalf; Owen Brick, der ein Land von einem Krieg befreien soll - doch um welchen Preis? Und Brills Leben selbst, der sich nie verzeihen kann, was er seiner geliebten Sonja antat...
Es ist das erste Buch von Auster, das ich gelesen habe und ich bin hin und weg. Nicht nur dass er gut erzählen kann, er ist auch in der Lage diesen an sich schon packenden Geschichten so viel Hintergründiges mitzugeben, dass man ständig zum Weiterdenken angeregt wird. Da führen die USA mal keinen Krieg gegen Dritte - und schon erheben sie die Waffen gegeneinander. Oder welche Aussagekraft Gegenstände in Filmen entwickeln können - beeindruckend. Soll ein Mensch einen anderen töten, um das Leben vieler anderer zu retten?
Suchte ich nach einem Motto für dieses Buch, wäre es 'Das Leben ist enttäuschend...' - ein Satz der in einem der beschriebenen Filme fällt und vermutlich jeder der Personen in diesem Haus zugeschrieben werden könnte. Doch 'Und die wunderliche Welt dreht sich weiter' - ein Zitat von Rose Hawthorne, das am Ende des Buches auftaucht und (irgendwie allen) wieder Mut macht. ( )
  Xirxe | Dec 2, 2014 |
It might very well grow into a four-star once I've digested it. Two-thirds through I was pretty much ready to write it off as something wanting to be a Vonnegut piece but without the sting. The story (stories) seemed to lack purpose and an old mans ramblings seemed like just that, an old mans rambling. However in the final third it kind of came together and I caught on to something that might be summed up by the following quote:

Why is life so horrible, Grandpa?
Because it is, that's all. It just is

So it goes. ( )
  pan0ramix | Nov 25, 2014 |
Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

This is another wonderfully descriptive novel by Paul Auster. Some people don't like his style but I wholeheartedly adore it, maybe minus the reoccurring characters of cheating men (although maybe he writes what he knows?!? He is on his second wife). His books usually contain unusual situations with a heavy hand of existentialism. This novel is exactly that, it starts off with the main character telling a story in his head about a man who wakes up in a hole with little recollection of how he got there. The first half of this book deals mainly with this story within a story and you don't really learn about August Brill (main character) directly until you get closer to the end. What is unusual about this is that we actually do learn a little of Brill through his own story. You see... the story Brill creates in his head is about a man who must stop the Author (Brill) from continuing on with the story. Confused yet? Auster does a wonderful job with this and trust me... you really won't be confused at all (I'm finding it hard to describe since I lack the graceful way with words that Auster has).

The story within the story is finished halfway through the novel and the we continue with August Brill's reality (not the story). At first I was a little annoyed that the story seemed somewhat unfinished but the reason is there, you start to get it towards the end. I enjoyed both parts equally and by the time I was done with the book I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. One part of the book actually has a very graphic scene set in Iraq, one that shows the true horror of the war. It was quite hard to stomach and I'll admit it left me in tears.

I understand why August Brill was creating this story, he wanted to dream of a way to change the outcome of his current life. In the story he created in his head, the point was to stop the Author from changing history but wouldn't that mean the characters would then die? Those characters are imagined by Brill, so essentially by killing him... they would die with him. In Brill's reality we have a horrific event (in Iraq) that has changed his whole family and he uses this story to dream of what it would be like to write a different ending. Man, get your mind around that one! It's a fantastic story, both of them. This might be my favorite Auster book yet, I highly recommend it. Take note though, be careful to be in a good mind frame when reading this... I could see the potential it would have to screw with someone at the wrong time of their life. With that said....

Happy Reading,
AmberBug ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Man in the Dark is a short novel (180 pages) composed of one long chapter. I would categorize it as meta-fiction once removed or fictionalized meta-fiction (In this it reminds me of 2 novels I read last year: Queen of the Prisons of Greece, by Osman Lins and Diary of a Bad Year, by J.M. Coetzee). August Brill, the storyteller/ protagonist, is a 72 year old retired book critic and insomniac who lies awake at night telling himself stories while worrying about his 47 year old daughter Miriam and his 23 year old granddaughter Katya and while grieving for his dead wife Sonia.
For the first 2/3 of the novel, the narrative switches back and forth between August's memories and musings and the story he invents to distract himself from the same. The protagonist of August's story is Owen Brick (a professional magician called the Great Zavello)who finds himself in a parallel world where he is a corporal in the Independents’ army. In this parallel world, 9/11 never happened and the U.S. never went to war against Iraq. Instead, America is caught up in its 4th year of a civil war between the Independents (16 states) and the Federals, with 13 million dead as of April 19, 2007.
Unfortunately, August/ Auster abruptly ends the story of Owen Brick on page 118. From then on, the novel stays with August and his memories as he responds to Katya's demands to tell her about his marriage to her grandmother. Well and good, but this just isn't as interesting as the parallel worlds story (which itself is too convoluted to summarize here). Sigh!
At its best, however, Man in the Dark lives up to what could be the epigraph of the memoir August never finishes or the collection of stories he never writes: the one line from Rose Hawthorne's poetry that the book critic in August admires: "As the weird world rolls on." ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
This story turned out to be darker than I expected, and the initial structural conceits ended sooner than expected. But I'm still giving this a high rating simply because Paul Auster always creates novels that intrigue and entertain me. I'm lit-smitten, and there's not much I can do about it at this point. Suffice to say that this was an interesting and compelling short novel, but the later development went astray from my desires and expectations. So this is a three-and-a-half rating, but Auster gets rounded up to four stars, because he's written so many books that I absolutely adore. Still, be aware that I cringed in public at the painful revelation of the central tragedy that overshadows most of the action. If you're easily injured psychically, be on your guard. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Auster reminds us that each of us looks at existence through story-colored lenses. The world we inhabit is literally shaped by Story. We all have our "life stories," and these govern how we see ourselves and others, how we interpret events and memories and expectations. When our saviors and teachers speak to us about the greatest truths, whether of religion or philosophy, they always speak to us in parables. When artists, or ordinary people, talk about what truly matters, they start and end by telling stories, wonderful, amazing stories—like those in the works of Paul Auster.
 
The “parallel worlds” visited and occupied by an aging intellectual’s troubled mind and heart assume intriguing metafictional form in [this] challenging novel. ... Auster’s lucid prose and masterly command of his tricky narrative’s twists, turns and mirrorings keep us riveted to the pages. ... Probably Auster’s best novel, and a plaintive summa of all [his] books that ... have gone into its making.
added by Roycrofter | editKirkus Reviews (May 1, 2008)
 

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Paul Austerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bocchiola, MassimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For David Grossman

and his wife Michal

his son Jonathan

his daughter Ruthi

and in memory of Uri
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I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia, another white night in the great American wilderness.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805088393, Hardcover)

A new novel with a dark political twist from “one of America’s greats.”*

Man in the Dark is Paul Auster’s brilliant, devastating novel about the many realities we inhabit as wars flame all around us.

Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget—his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts the story of his marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death.

Passionate and shocking, Man in the Dark is a novel of our moment, a book that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence.

*Time Out (Chicago)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:25 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter's house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget--his wife's recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter's boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill's story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts the story of his marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus's death.--From publisher description.… (more)

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