The Brooklyn Follies

The Brooklyn Follies, unlike many of Paul Auster's books, is a warm
and upbeat story of a 59 year old man - a cancer survivor -who believes
his life is essentially over. Nathan Glass, divorced and estranged from
his daughter, comes to Brooklyn to end his days. There he discovers
his nephew, Tom, working in a rare bookstore. Since the death of
Nathan's sister, he has lost contact with the intellectual Tom. When he
rediscovers him, Tom has dropped out of his PhD program, has scarcely
any money and even less ambition. Like that of his uncle, his life is
at a crossroad.

One wonders if Nathan is a side of the
author himself. He is a cynic and a bit of a curmudgeon. Yet we sense
his vulnerability when we glimpse him dining in the same restaurant day
after day, energized by the attention of his favorite waitress.

The plot takes a mysterious turn when Tom's nine-year-old niece, Lucy,shows up.  Her mother - Tom's sister - ran away from home when she was a
teenager and has led a sordid life. Lucy's appearance, and her refusal
to discuss with Tom and Nathan the location of her mother, Aurora,
sounds an alarm for the two men. Nathan determines to find Aurora and
bring her safely back. He also decides to find a "proper" temporary
home for the precocious Lucy. Along the way, he discovers a unique collection of unforgettable characters.

In a sense, the novel follows a quest motif in which our existential hero discovers genuine meaning in his own life. 

lives vanish, Nathan muses. A person dies, and little by little all
traces of that life disappear.  An inventor survives in his inventions,
an architect survives in his buildings, but most people leave behind no
monuments or lasting achievements: a shelf of photograph albums, a
fifth-grade report card, a bowling trophy, an ashtray filched from a
Florida hotel room on the final morning of some dimly remembered
(p. 303)

Ultimately, as Nathan
contemplates how to immortalize these everyday people we, the readers,
feel his sense of joy and renewed purpose. His second brush with death
underscores life's uncertainty. As the book concludes, we see Nathan
emerging from the hospital, greeting the 8 a.m. sunshine on the morning
of September 11, 2001. We know that in forty-six minutes the first
plane will crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Life,
as we know it, will never be the same.

Check Our Catalog

Comments List

Archive posts

Collapse all

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2019 Issues

June 2019

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008