Strange but intriguing trilogy containing 3 novellas: "The City of Glass," "Ghosts" and "The Locked Room."
"The City of Glass" features Quinn, a solitary man, living quietly after the death of his wife and son, and writing detective stories under a pseudonym. One night, Quinn receives a mysterious phone call from a man demanding the services of a private detective, Paul Auster... Although it is clearly a wrong number, Quinn decides to pretend to be Auster and take the challenge, changing his life forever.
A complete change of life circumstances is also a fate of the protagonist of a second (and the shortest) novella "Ghosts". Blue, who is a professional private detective, receives a task from the disguised client, White, to watch Black. The trouble is, Black never does anything interesting except reading or writing, and bored Blue tries to find out, where the real secret of this investigation lies.
In the last novella "The Locked Room", the main character is involved in the publication of the works of his missing childhood friend, Fanshawe. The books are a great success, he marries Fanshawe's wife and he assumes Fanshawe's identity, happily at the beginning...
These stories are definitely NOT your typical noir mystery stories although they read as such. Each story is filled with not only the main story but with references to many literary characters and events such as Don Quixote, The Tower of Babel, Walt Whitman, Thoreau's Walden, etc. This Penguin edition calls these stories "existential" mysteries meaning that the story is concerned with the shaping of a person's self-chosen mode of existence. I would agree that these stories definitely relate to human existence and how people may choose to live. As the stories progress, you definitely don't know what to expect with each turn of the page. Overall, I thought the novellas were very engrossing and enjoyable even though they were outside of the usual. I read Timbuktu by Auster a few months ago and also enjoyed that one. I will probably read more of him in the future.
Brilliant -- not for the casual reader, this is literature.
I would posit that this book (at least the first segment) is an amazing, thought-provoking twist to the typical mystery. Unpredictable with a driving but not over-driven element of ambiguity. This isn't a Who-Done-It, it's a What-Does-It-All-Mean. Much more fun and reverberating.