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The Music of Chanceby Paul Auster
The Music of Chance is a well-crafted story about taking risks and what can happen if you lose. A driver picks up a hitchhiker and convinces him to go play some poker against two rich eccentrics in Pennsylvania. Things don't go well for the visitors, and a wrenching predicament occurs. Time seems to slow down, or maybe it just disappears. I was very entrenched in the characters and wanted things to get better; there is redemption, but only after many more risks are taken.
Synopses & Reviews
From one of America's most original and startlingly imaginative writers: A fireman and a gambler enter a poker game with two rich eccentrics, risking everything on the single blind turn of a card. Jim Nashe is the Boston fireman, who needs music as a life crutch. His wife abandons him just before his father dies, leaving him money that he squanders aimlessly while driving around America. Near desperation, he meets a bitter young itinerant gambler, Jack (``Jackpot'') Pozzi, who lures him into a losing poker game with two shady recluses, Flower and Stone. Nashe and Pozzi must retire their debt by building a stone wall on the premises: what this Herculean labor does to them is the novel's leitmotif.
"In his lucid, captivating yarn, Auster quietly raises disturbing questions of servants and masters, of loyalty, freedom and the inexplicable urge to kill." Publishers Weekly
"Still, its rambling path does lead the book to a convincing statement of Mr. Auster's insistent theme that Nashe's identity, or anyone's, is not an innate quality or even a fixed one, but is instead a product of surrounding circumstance. And so if [this] is not Paul Auster's best novel, it is still a very good one." The New York Times Book Review
"The Music of Chance is a rare achievement: a novel of formal sophistication that is not consciously exquisite or ostentatiously ground-breaking; a novel whose philosophical concerns convincingly arise out of its action and the fates of its characters, without airily rising above them or schematically giving rise to them; a novel in which the consciousness of an all-unsettling uncertainty does not abolish moral urgency about the seriousness of human bonds. Its dramatic meditation on the moments when things are 'in harmony' and the other moments when they go 'out of whack' gives, rightly, no answers — but it gives clear form to the chaos we sense ourselves verging on when coincidence suddenly shifts our inner bearings." London Review of Books
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, The Music of Chance follows Jim Nashe who, after squandering an unexpected inheritance, picks up a young gambler named Jack Pozzi hoping to con two millionaires. But when their plans backfire, Jim and Jack are indentured by their elusive marks and are forced to build a meaningless wall with bricks gathered from ruins of an Irish castle. Time passes, their debts mount, and anger builds as the two struggle to dig themselves out of their Kafkaesque serfdom.
New York Times-bestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) brings us back into his strange, shape-shifting world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a powerful yet unpredictable force.
In a Pennsylvania meadow, a young fireman and an angry gambler are forced to build a wall of fifteenth-century stone, For Jim Nashe, it all started when he came into a small inheritance and left Boston in pursuit of a "life of freedom." Careening back and forth across the United States, waiting for the money to run out, Nashe met Jack Pozzi, a young man with a temper and a plan. With Nashe's last funds, they entered a poker game against two rich eccentrics, "risking everything on the single blind turn of a card."
In Paul Auster's world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a shifting and powerful force, there is redemption, nonetheless, in Nashe's resolute quest for justice and his capacity for love.
About the Author
Paul Auster’s novels include Brooklyn Follies, Oracle Night, and In the Country of Last Things, as well as two memoirs, a collection of essays, a volume of poems, and the screenplays for several films. His work has been translated into over 30 languages.
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