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The Brooklyn Follies: A Novel

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The Brooklyn Follies: A Novel Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the bestselling author of Oracle Night and The Book of Illusions, an exhilarating, whirlwind tale of one mans accidental redemption

     Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstorea far cry from the brilliant academic career hed begun when Nathan saw him last. Toms boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the “ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York.” Through Tom and Harry, Nathans world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintancesnot to mention a stray relative or twoand leads him to a reckoning with his past.

     Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes “to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man.” But life takes over instead, and Nathans despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others.

     The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Austers warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving and unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Oracle Night, The Book of Illusions, and Timbuktu. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstorea far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintancesnot to mention a stray relative or twoand leads him to a reckoning with his past.
 
Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes "to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man." But life takes over instead, and Nathan's despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others.
"A charming, beguiling story about the terrible beauty of families and the redemptive power of love . . . The novel is driven . . . by characters and writing . . . it's filled with literary allusions, including Thoreau and Melville, but it's not pretentious . . . The Brooklyn Follies is one of Auster's most accessible novels . . . and is packed with surprises."Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
 
"A retired insurance salesman returns to his native Brooklyn to dieand is instead recalled to lifein Auster's uncharacteristically upbeat 12th novel. Nathan Glass, approaching 60 and diagnosed with lung cancer, has a lot to die for: He's long divorced, estranged from his adult daughter, exhausted from years of toiling for Mid-Atlantic Accident and Life. Then, like an Iris Murdoch character, he becomes involved in others' lives and experiences the gratifications of contingency. Nathan's nephew Tom Wood has forsaken a promising academic career, gone to seed and settled for an unrewarding job at Brightman's Attic, a used bookstore run by 'born prankster' Harry Dunkel (aka Brightman), a gay art and manuscript forger who, during impassioned bull sessions with Tom and Nathan, discloses his hopeful vision of an imaginary utopian 'Hotel Existence' (which echoes Tom's abandoned thesis on 'Imaginary Edens' in classic American literature). The plot keeps thickening with the arrival of Nathan's nine-year-old great-niece Lucy, daughter of Aurora ('Rory'), Tom's promiscuous, drug-addled, vagrant sister. A trip to Vermont brings serendipitous accidents, ends at a country inn that's the incarnation of Harry's idealized fantasy and gives Tom a second chance at fulfillment. But 'accident and life' break in, returning the principal characters to Brooklyn to rearrange their lives and relationshipsa pattern, re-echoed at the conclusion, in which Nathan survives and looks to the future, on the verge of an ominously significant Date in Recent History. The novel is energized throughout by fancy symbolic footwork, and intermittently by Nathan's habit of recording 'the slapstick moments of everyday life' in a loose gathering of jottings he calls The Book of Human Folly."Kirkus Reviews
 
"Just when you think you've got Auster pegged, he shape-shifts. Not that his mesmerizing new novel isn't instantly recognizable as an Auster tale, what with its beautifully ruminative narration, obsessive charting of seemingly quotidian details, cleverly meandering and impressionistically noirish plot, and literary allusions, in this case, to Hawthorne, Kafka, and Gaddis. But this addition to his increasingly tender cycle of love songs to Brooklyn is his most down-to-earth, sensuous, and socially conscious novel to date. Harry Brightman, formerly Harry Dunkel, which means dark, is a gay man who owns a used bookstore in Brooklyn and previously served time for forgery. Once a rogue, always a rogue? Auster's shrewd and charming narrator, Nathan Glass, suspects so. A 59-year-old divorced lung-cancer survivor retired from the life-insurance business and estranged from his family, Nathan plans to sulk in Brooklyn. Instead, he reconnects with his nephew, Tom, who works for Harry. Tom is also depressed, and worried about his missing sister, Aurora, when out of the blue, Aurora's eerily self-possessed nine-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lucy, appears. As fate has its way with his irresistible characters, the sorcerer-like Auster rhapsodizes about nature, orchestrates unlikely love affairs and hilarious conversations, and considers such extreme experiences as a life in pornography and marriage to a tyrannical religious fanatic. Auster also takes subtle measure of a time that will live in infamy, the era of the 2000 election and September 11, 2001."Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
 
"Nathan Glass, a retired life insurance salesman estranged from his family and facing an iffy cancer prognosis, is 'looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn.' What he finds, though, in this ebullient novel by Brooklyn bard Auster, is a vital, big-hearted borough brim

Review:

"Nathan Glass, a retired life insurance salesman estranged from his family and facing an iffy cancer prognosis, is 'looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn.' What he finds, though, in this ebullient novel by Brooklyn bard Auster (Oracle Night), is a vital, big-hearted borough brimming with great characters. These include Nathan's nephew, Tom, a grad student turned spiritually questing cab driver; Tom's serenely silent nine-year-old niece, who shows up on Tom's doorstep without her unstable mom; and a flamboyant book dealer hatching a scheme to sell a fraudulent manuscript of The Scarlet Letter. As Nathan recovers his soul through immersion in their lives, Auster meditates on the theme of sanctuary in American literature, from Hawthorne to Poe to Thoreau, infusing the novel's picaresque with touches of romanticism, Southern gothic and utopian yearning. But the book's presiding spirit is Brooklyn's first bard, Walt Whitman, as Auster embraces the borough's multitudes — neighborhood characters, drag queens, intellectuals manqu, greasy-spoon waitresses, urbane bourgeoisie — while singing odes to moonrise over the Brooklyn Bridge. Auster's graceful, offhand storytelling carries readers along, with enough shadow to keep the tale this side of schmaltz. The result is an affectionate portrait of the city as the ultimate refuge of the human spirit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

 
National Bestseller
 
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
 
Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, retired, estranged from his only daughter, the former life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Glass encounters his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, who is working in a local bookstore--a far cry from the brilliant academic career Tom had begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the colorful and charismatic Harry Brightman--a.k.a. Harry Dunkel--once the owner of a Chicago art gallery, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new circle of acquaintances. He soon finds himself drawn into a scam involving a forged page of The Scarlet Letter, and begins to undertake his own literary venture, The Book of Human Folly, an account of "every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I have committed during my long and checkered career as a man."

 

The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Auster's warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving, unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.

About the Author

PAUL AUSTER is the bestselling author of Travels in the Scriptorium, Oracle Night, and Man in the Dark, among many other works. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project Anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

megcampbell3, October 27, 2007 (view all comments by megcampbell3)
I read this book in a day—couldn't put it down. I picked it out of my ever-growing/never-ending "to-read" stack because I would have liked to visit New York City this fall. "The Brooklyn Follies" didn't disappoint. As with all of Paul Auster's novels, it’s filled with happenings that seem out of the ordinary—one might even say bordering on fantastical for everyday life. The characters' (and they're all main characters) jaunts and journeys are a step beyond the bounds of our "what did you do today?" and yet it’s all relatable. Really, it's just a story about interesting people living life at full tilt. There’s no magic or illusion beyond the usual magic and illusion life throws to us outside the pages. In "The Brooklyn Follies", the foreground is all story; the atmosphere is Auster's sublime writing. Highly, highly recommended.
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Anagha, September 1, 2006 (view all comments by Anagha)
Auster's easy-to-read "The Brooklyn Follies" ties family crisis together with morality, politics, sex and love based on the follies of the human mind. Recommended reading for minds who like to observe life and its vissitudes.
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(12 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805077148
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Auster, Paul
Author:
Futterweit, Walter
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authorship
Subject:
Autobiography
Subject:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Family life
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
December 27, 2005
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Brooklyn Follies: A Novel Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805077148 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Nathan Glass, a retired life insurance salesman estranged from his family and facing an iffy cancer prognosis, is 'looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn.' What he finds, though, in this ebullient novel by Brooklyn bard Auster (Oracle Night), is a vital, big-hearted borough brimming with great characters. These include Nathan's nephew, Tom, a grad student turned spiritually questing cab driver; Tom's serenely silent nine-year-old niece, who shows up on Tom's doorstep without her unstable mom; and a flamboyant book dealer hatching a scheme to sell a fraudulent manuscript of The Scarlet Letter. As Nathan recovers his soul through immersion in their lives, Auster meditates on the theme of sanctuary in American literature, from Hawthorne to Poe to Thoreau, infusing the novel's picaresque with touches of romanticism, Southern gothic and utopian yearning. But the book's presiding spirit is Brooklyn's first bard, Walt Whitman, as Auster embraces the borough's multitudes — neighborhood characters, drag queens, intellectuals manqu, greasy-spoon waitresses, urbane bourgeoisie — while singing odes to moonrise over the Brooklyn Bridge. Auster's graceful, offhand storytelling carries readers along, with enough shadow to keep the tale this side of schmaltz. The result is an affectionate portrait of the city as the ultimate refuge of the human spirit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
 
National Bestseller
 
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
 
Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, retired, estranged from his only daughter, the former life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Glass encounters his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, who is working in a local bookstore--a far cry from the brilliant academic career Tom had begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the colorful and charismatic Harry Brightman--a.k.a. Harry Dunkel--once the owner of a Chicago art gallery, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new circle of acquaintances. He soon finds himself drawn into a scam involving a forged page of The Scarlet Letter, and begins to undertake his own literary venture, The Book of Human Folly, an account of "every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I have committed during my long and checkered career as a man."

 

The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Auster's warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving, unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.

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