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Sunset Park: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1ST edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092862
  • ASIN: B005CDTEYI
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Auster (Invisible) is in excellent form for this foray into the tarnished, conflicted soul of Brooklyn. New York native Miles Heller now cleans out foreclosed south Florida homes, but after falling in love with an underage girl and stirring the wrath of her older sister, he flees to Brooklyn and shacks up with a group of artists squatting in the borough's Sunset Park neighborhood. As Miles arrives at the squat, the narrative broadens to take in the lives of Miles's roommates--among them Bing, "the champion of discontent," and Alice, a starving writer--and the unlikely paths that lead them to their squat. Then there's the matter of Miles's estranged father, Morris, who, in trying to save both his marriage and the independent publishing outfit he runs, may find the opportunity to patch things up with Miles. The fractured narrative takes in an impressive swath of life and history--Vietnam, baseball trivia, the WWII coming-home film The Best Years of Our Lives--and even if a couple of the perspectives feel weak, Auster's newest is a gratifying departure from the postmodern trickery he's known for, one full of crisp turns of phrase and keen insights.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Passionately literary, Auster nonetheless publishes as frequently as a genre author, writing poetic and brainy feigned procedurals featuring inadvertent outlaws. In his sixteenth novel, four flat-broke twentysomething searchers end up squatting in a funky abandoned house in Sunset Park, a rough Brooklyn neighborhood. Bing, the “sloppy bear” ringleader, plays drums and runs the Hospital for Broken Things, where he mends “relics” from a thriftier past. Melancholy artist Ellen is beset by erotic visions. Grad student Alice is researching pop-culture depictions of postwar sexual relationships. Miles is a fugitive. Poisoned by guilt over his stepbrother's death, he hasn't communicated with his loving father, a heroic independent publisher; his kind English professor stepmother; or his flamboyant actor mother for seven years. Lately he's been in Florida, “trashing out” foreclosed homes, stunned by what evicted people leave behind in anger and despair. Miles returns to New York after things turn dicey over his love affair with a wise-beyond-her-years Cuban American teenager. As always with the entrancing and ambushing Auster, every element is saturated with implication as each wounded, questing character's story illuminates our tragic flaws and profound need for connection, coherence, and beauty. In a time of daunting crises and change, Auster reminds us of lasting things, of love, art, and “the miraculous strangeness of being alive.” --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Travels in the Scriptorium, The Brooklyn Follies, and Oracle Night. 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.

Customer Reviews

The ending is way, way too unbelievable and contrived.
Dick Johnson
If Paul Auster had followed this advice then he would have spared the reader pages of purple prose that are painful to read.
John Fitzpatrick
This story is told from the point of view of several characters, who narrate different chapters.
sb-lynn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Federico (Fred) Moramarco VINE VOICE on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading a Paul Auster novel is something like listening to a well-orchestrated , multi-layered musical composition where certain melodies and motifs recur with substantial elaboration and variation. He is one of our very best writers and his newest, Sunset Park, like many of his books, reflects back to us a great deal about how we live today. It is "up-to-the-moment" current, the protagonist, Miles Heller, being employed by a South Florida realty company (for part of the novel) as a "trash-out" worker who cleans out repossessed homes that are usually left in awful shape by their former inhabitants. Miles has a somewhat fetishistic compulsion to photograph the forgotten possessions, the abandoned things that have been left behind, and his large collection of digital photos of these objects comprise one of the many lists of contemporary artifacts that Auster constructs throughout the book. It includes pictures of "books, shoes, and oil paintings, pianos and toasters, dolls, tea sets and dirty socks, televisions and board games, party dresses and tennis racquets, sofas, silk lingerie, caulking guns, thumbtacks, plastic action figures, tubes of lipstick, rifles, discolored mattresses, knives and forks, poker chips, a stamp collection, and a dead canary lying at the bottom of its cage."

Miles is 28 years old, and one day while sitting on the grass in a public park, reading The Great Gatsby (one of many iconic American cultural landmarks referenced in the book) he meets Pilar Sanchez, who happens to be reading the same novel. That bond connects them immediately, but there's one hitch to that connection. Pilar, though lovely, smart, and irresistible, is seventeen years old. That doesn't slow down Miles at all; he falls deeply in love with her.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paul Auster is one of my favorite writers; he always able to paint his characters with taut, finely detailed, yet propulsive brush strokes. And in Sunset Park, he does not disappoint.

This novel is less postmodern than his recent book Invisible. It focuses on debris: physical debris from trashed-out foreclosed homes in Florida that Miles Heller, a Brown University dropout, rescues through his camera lens. And mental debris that Miles wrestles with after a spontaneous action on his part results in an accidental death, causing him to flee from his New York family and live in self-imposed exile down south. A chance encounter with a high school student, Cuban-American Pilar Sanchez, while reading The Great Gatsby brings fleeting connection into his life for a few happy months. But Pilar is underage and he is soon forced to flee north to avoid family charges that could lead to jail time.

As a result of his return northbound trek, Miles moves in with the other characters that populate this book: four flat-broke twentysomethings who are struggling with issues of personal identity and past failures. Together, they illegally squat in an abandoned house in Brooklyn's Sunset Park, openly evading the government and awaiting the day when eviction will become a reality. Each has placed his or her life on hold while forestalling a crucial decision. In Miles case, he is awaiting the right time connect again with his father Morris, an independent publisher who is fighting the dissolution of both his business and marriage and has never quite given up that his son will eventually find his way back home.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Brad Teare VINE VOICE on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have read nearly every book by Auster since I first read The New York Trilogy in the 90s. Sunset Park has a different intent, being less experimental, and shouldn't be judged in the same category. It is a straight forward narrative written from the point of view of four misfits trying to find themselves while squatting in an abandoned house in New York City. Which sounds intriguing but Auster ultimately gives us nothing we couldn't easily foresee. The ultimate resolution of the fratricidal disaster described in the first few chapters resolves itself without surprises.

There are more sexual insights into the characters than in previous Auster novels. If such details elaborated and defined the narrative I could see his point for including them. But in this case it adds a seedy undertone that makes the reader feel more a party to gossip than a participant in an illuminating narrative. At one point a character who is a publisher toys briefly with the idea of publishing an artist's raunchy portfolio as a ploy to attract readers. I couldn't help wondering if Auster succumbed to the same subterfuge. Auster is a great writer. His work doesn't need such artless stimulants to boost sales.

On the plus side Auster gives brief but interesting views into the publishing world, the motivations of PEN and their work for Liu Xiaobo, as well as insights into the writer's life. Conversely he writes engagingly about baseball. It is these unconventional contrasts I enjoy most about Auster's work. The writing, as always, is excellent and despite its flaws is an effortless read.
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