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Showing 1-10 of 33 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 97 reviews
on April 17, 2017
Paul Auster is a master literary craftsman. Like a Pied Piper, he can magically pull the reader along with skillful and precise writing and story telling. However, his novel Sunset Park which I finished reading is terrible. These are my reasons: It is unfocused, has no clear thematic core, is overindulgent in its observations about the major characters. Auster also is more than occasionally trying to educate the reader about subjects oblique to his story which the seems to care about, love and has personal meaning for him, forgetting the reader may think otherwise. The novel is flawed by pointless digressions about old time baseball players who have died because the son Miles Heller and his father, Morris find their lives and fortunes similar to their own.

The main characters are seem to lead pointless lives of indecision and different degrees of failure. The main character is Miles Heller's M.O. He is not very ambitious and a wanderer despite having three years of Ivy league education under his belt. He is erudite and reads many books and offers insight and analysis of books, ideas and people when he chooses to speak. being somewhat introverted. He overhears an argument between his stepmother and father about his problems and lack of ambition. Frustrated with his life and family. he takes to the road at age 21 and lives in four different states eeking out a living with menial low paying jobs. He appears and identifies himself as a loser destined to fail at everything. He moves to Florida and acquire a jobs as a "trash out inspector" that empties foreclosed. houses of valuables left behind by former owners. He meets and fall in love with a 17 year high school student who becomes the great love of his life. Her name is Pilar Sanchez who he believes is intelligent and sharp witted, but offers no substantial proof of her intelligence except that, she reads books;. they actually meet in a local park where they both are reading the same book, "The Great Gatsby"

Unfortunately her sister is a greedy and jealous bitch who wants Miles to lavish her with gifts from the items he collects from the foreclosed houses he empties. Miles refuses and she threatens to inform the police that his sister is 17 and sleeping with a 28 year old man ( at this point Miles has been away from his New York family for close to 8 years with minimal contact through a mutual friend who reports to his father of his whereabouts. Miles is more or less forced to leave the state or risk serious jail time. He returns secretively to New York where he joins his mutual friend who has taken over a broken down house in "Sunset Park" He has filled the house with 3 other friends who are poor and destitude and on the verge of homelessness. Therefore, they occupy this shack of a dwelling as squatters, not fearing they could be evicted at any tome by the police. His friend is big burly slob with a violent temper because of his anti-society and radical views . Like Miles, he a loser with no direction and makes a pittance repairing broken typewriters and framing posters. The other members of the squatter house is a somewhat disheveled women who strives to be a painter but has mental and inner personal issues, and sees herself as a loser who cannot gain any traction in the New York City Art scene. The last member is a tall, large blond women in her thirties who is completing a dissertation at Columbia University. Her topic is male and female relationships after World War II focused on returning veterans having trouble getting adjusted to home with their families. Working on the last chapter of her study, she provides( or is it Auster) an analysis of the classic film. " The Best Years of Our Lives" of the post war period that is well made, though somewhat sentimental but offers a hopeful ending for the characters involved. The story is common, but film is carried by skill and the sincerity of the actors playing the main parts. This is another of Auster's pointless digressions which comes across as just" filler", and seems obliquely related to lives of the people involved in the novel. Unfortunately, Auster is again schooling his reader and demonstrating how informed he is about film history. The film is generally a great film but has its limitations and flaws, yet the female dissertation student chooses it as a way to pull together several of the thematic issues of her study.

The novel is flawed by the author's digressions, and showcasing his encyclopedia knowledge of trivia that weaken the narrative structure and obscure what the author is attempting to convey to the reader Even his reportage of the inner monologue of each character seems contrived and detached from what these characters may actually think in their individual desperate situations. This novel does not "REFLECT" the inner life and anguish of its characters, but instead superimposes the author's suppositions and judgments about them that does ring true to this reader. The novel has one believable character which draws out the reader empathy. he is Morris Heller, the father of Miles. He own a publishing company that he has successfully built over the course of his life, but may go under unless he can find new investors. Besides his profligate son his second wife is neurotic, overly scholarly wife and unforgiving of his one time fall from grace and runs off to England to teach Exeter College. All these pressures and including his uncertainty about his son Miles is wearing the man down. he is a good man with integrity but is hampered by family and business problems

The denouement of this jumbled narrative is both vaguely suspected, but also unsuspected. Where everything in Miles life seems to be working out, including a ceasefire within his family, and with friends. Miles prepares to return to Florida and when his girl friend Pilar turns 18 and legal, he will ask her to marry him Unfortunately, Miles is again railroaded by fate, or just his succession of stupid mistakes and lackadaisical misjudgments about people. The upheaval is serious enough to return all the major players of the novel back to square one.

If Auster has a theme to convey, it may be an indirect rebuke of the 60's countercultural mantra "to do your own thing in your own time, and that..."it all is good". Fate is a positive force in this cosmic view of the universe; whereas fate is a cruel interlocutor in people's lives and grudgingly offers second chances Miles and his squatter house friends may be either victims of fate, or just stupid in their life choices and decisions.. Whether Auster's haphazard parable intends this theme is also unclear.. .
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on May 9, 2017
I've only read one of Paul's books before, the recently released "4321". I also enjoyed this book, just not quite as much. I enjoyed the feel of living and almost Bohemian life in the great city of New York. I'd recommend it as a good read
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on August 9, 2012
I've been reading Paul Auster's fiction for more than 20 years now. Most of his books are staggeringly well-written; sometimes, he doesn't quite hit the mark, which I felt was the case with his last two books, Man in the Dark and Invisible. His latest novel, Sunset Park, shows he's back in fine form, as it both tugs at your heart and makes you think.

Miles Heller is fairly directionless. Seven years ago he dropped out of college and stepped out of his parents' lives; since then, he has drifted around the country without any real plans. While living in Florida and working on a crew that empties foreclosed homes, he meets Pilar, a wise-beyond-her-years high school senior, and the two fall in love. Running afoul of Pilar's older sister, Miles flees back to his native New York until Pilar's 18th birthday. In New York, he joins his old friend, Bing, and two others as they squat in an abandoned house in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood. Miles uses the return home as an opportunity to reconnect with his parents and mentor Pilar from afar, while each of his housemates struggles with their own self-discoveries, and his father, Morris, deals with his own shaky marriage and his fears of mortality.

While the book starts out being narrated by Miles alone, after a point his voice is joined by those of his housemates and both of his parents, publisher Morris and actress Mary-Lee. Each has a unique viewpoint and each character occupies their own space with their own unique voice. I found this book tremendously compelling and thought-provoking, as it was both about big and small ideas. This is a story about relationships, self-confidence (and the lack thereof), discovering your true self, baseball and seizing opportunities that come your way. I found the ending a little too melodramatic and predictable, but it also left me to imagine what the next steps would be in the characters' lives. So good to see Paul Auster back on track again!!
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on December 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
I am an absolute fan of Paul Auster, and I think he is like good wine - the older the better. He mellowed somehow, although the elements of metafiction and tons of cultural references are still here, giving the real taste of Paul Auster to the most demanding reader, yet his new novels are less hermetic and more mainstream.

In "Sunset Park" there is the usual alienated protagonist - 28 years old Miles Heller, who lives the life of a hermit, having abruptly cut all the ties to his prominent family of New York publishers. He managed to avoid all contact for seven years, quit college and lives a truly minimalistic life, moving a lot and doing odd physical jobs to sustain himself. When we meet him, he lives in Florida - but the one thing he has not predicted changes the order of things forever: Miles falls in love with a teenager, an extremely bright and ambitious high school girl, Pilar Sanchez. His relationship with a minor and its consequences force him to accept an offer from an old friend, Bing Nathan, to move back to Brooklyn and join the group of squatters occupying an abandoned house in the Sunset Park neighborhood (I wonder whether Auster was inspired by a real house... I bet he was). Now Miles is close to his family, and there is the question of reconciliation, making peace...

The book if full of anecdotes about the lives of football players and initially I felt it might put me off (as I know nothing of football and the names mean nothing to me), but I found myself following and thinking about the random parallels between the lives of the characters and the players. The stories were an integral part of the novel and in no way a distraction or a show-off.
In fact, everything mentioned in the novel has a role: it is not a random choice of "The Great Gatsby" for a book that brings Pilar and Miles together. It is important that Alice is doing her graduate work on the old Hollywood movies and chooses to focus on the particular one ("The Best Years of Our Lives"), obsessing with it, that Ellen in turn becomes obsessed with human body... Every detail is a piece of a puzzle, indispensable and fitting perfectly in its place.

Questions that come to mind after reading: is minimalist way of life more often than not an escape, not a choice of two equivalents?
And are people really unable to change their general direction in life? Is one tragedy a predictor of the further one, even if we desperately try to avoid them? Back to an old truism: is there anything that can be called bad or good luck that defines us?

Initially, for a moment, I was disappointed by the ending - but almost immediately I was grateful for it not being different. Paul Auster succeeded yet again in delivering very well constructed, complex, interesting, thoroughly modern novel.
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on July 17, 2014
This is the fourth Paul Auster book I've read and the one I liked the least. Love his writing, but not crazy about these characters. Hard to be involved in their lives or care too much for them. I have not quite finished it, but I will. And I look forward to reading more by Mr. Auster.
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on September 6, 2012
An excellent book, depicting variety of characters and situations. It takes readers through the life of its main character and his friends and family. The twist in the tale comes from looking at the same events through lenses of different characters. Anyone who likes books without clear ending, who loves to be left with questions to ponder on, would find this novel compelling.
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on September 21, 2016
It's a very good book. Well written. The story is addictive.
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on August 28, 2016
Arrived as announced, good condition, nomcomplaints
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on December 20, 2010
Since most of you already took the time to discuss the plot, I will discuss how I felt after this book - it should be a movie. I have read all his books and this one was most lifelike, or perhaps I had the most emotional attachment to the protagonist, or perhaps it was written with great fluidity that I kept picturing it on the big screen. Whatever the reasons, I loved this book.
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on April 28, 2013
The interesting characterizations and plot twists are enhanced by a rhythmic pace of story telling and intertwining of narrative threads. As in all the Auster novels that I've read, he uses coincidences to comic effect without seeming overly contrived, but of course they are.
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