Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown, No. 28

Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

Sometimes I read a critic who rips an author I like -- I remember Daniel Mendelsohn taking down Jonathan Franzen (one of the accusations being that Franzen is humorless, which isn't true and leaves one wondering what Mendelsohn thinks is funny -- Aristophanes?) and somebody blasting Richard Greenberg, either in The New Criterion or The New York Times. Now James Wood in The New Yorker takes on Paul Auster and pretty much does to him what that essayist did to Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx -- damn him for his prose style and repetitive motifs. That said, Wood did call Book of Illusions Auster's best work, and here I'd add Brooklyn Follies, a straightforward novel about the days of a retired insurance executive in the days before 9/11. This is a fun, generous book, a confessional of sorts, and it has an entertaining cast of characters who find small graces as they gather in a Brooklyn neighborhood. It has one coincidence, one that could happen in NYC, but otherwise it's just a warm, friendly novel. I listened to it, so perhaps I didn't pick up some of the prose nuances that Wood detected, but so what? 

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