Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The New York Trilogy and many other critically acclaimed novels. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
This insightful novel is a taut study of the self-contradictory mind living by chance while thinking it can get away with anything. Jim Nashe is a frivolous 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, on their Pennsylvania estate. 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. An interesting story, but some may object that the journalistic prose merely tells the story instead of showing it.-- Kenneth Mintz, formerly with Bayonne P.L., N.J.
Auster's ( Moon Palace ; the New York Trilogy) offbeat and strangely compelling black comedy invites speculation about the counterpointing of choice and chance, and carries resonances of Samuel Beckett. With a windfall of nearly $200,000, Jim Nashe abandons his stalled life, leaves his small daughter Juliette with Minnesota relatives and compulsively drives around the country for a year. He meets a frail, spunky, badly beaten youngster, self-advertised jackpot winner Jack Pozzi, and agrees to finance Pozzi in an epic poker match against an apparently childlike but actually malign pair named Flower and Stone in their remote mansion. Ruined in the game, Nashe and Pozzi try to work off their huge debt by building a wall out of 10,000 stones from an imported Irish castle, under the baleful overseer Murks, who gets Nashe's prized car. Affection springs up between Nashe and ``the kid,'' Pozzi, but optimism erodes as their plight becomes clear, disaster befalls Pozzi and numbing toil stretches endlessly. In his lucid, captivating yarn, Auster quietly raises disturbing questions of servants and masters, of loyalty, freedom and the inexplicable urge to kill. 25,000 first printing; author tour. (Oct.)
Praise for Music of Chance:
"A tour de force about freedom and imprisonment, motion
and stasis, order and randomness. . .its story beautifully paced
and shaped, its tone powerfully ominous."
-The Wall Street Journal "You won't read much better writing anywhere on the lure of the open road - and it catches the reader in a surprisingly strong spell. It's further evidence that Auster is one of the few contemporary American novelists whose work is both original and interesting."
- The Washington Post "Entertaining, provocative, and resonant. . .Auster can write with the speed and skill of a self-assured pool player, sending one bizarre event ricocheting neatly and unexpectedly into the next."
- The New York Times