I picked up this book because it was on the 1001 books list from 2006. I found this book both interesting and peculiar. It’s not one I would recommend. Honestly, I understand why it was dropped from said list in 2008.
There are moments of brilliance in the novel, and certainly, Auster knows how to turn a good phrase, but it was not enough. I thought some parts of the story were affectedly startling. (“Shock me, shock me, shock me, with that deviant behavior!”) So much so, that it really took away from the good parts of the book for me.
The book is basically about a professor, David Zimmer, whose wife and two sons are killed in a tragic plane crash. Auster’s description of Zimmer’s pain, to me, made him a very sympathetic character. In his haze of grief, Zimmer comes across an obscure silent film actor, Hector Mann, who mysteriously disappeared at the height of his career. Zimmer becomes intrigued by him, and sets out to watch all of his silent films, which are housed in different places throughout the world. +/-