Friday, November 15, 2019

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

This is a coming of age novel of Archie Ferguson, set in New Jersey in the 1950's and 1960's.  That could be interesting although rather commonplace but what sets this novel apart is that the author has created four different life stories for Archie.   Our lives are a series of decisions, and what we choose at various points changes the paths our lives will go down and make us a very different person that other choices might have resulted in.

We look in at the four Archies at various stages, young child, around ten, teen years, college years, etc.  There are similarities; all have the same parents, Rose and Stanley Ferguson, all love baseball, all are interested in writing, all fall in love with the same girl.  But the paths vary and sometimes the parents stay together, sometimes they divorce.  Sometimes Archie gets the girl and sometimes he doesn't.  He has various successes with his writing.  How he reacts to the large events of his time; the Vietnam War, the ending of segregation, the student uprisings at universities like Columbia, vary. 

This novel is a tour-de-force for Auster.  It was shortlisted for the 2017 Booker Prize and a Best Book of the Year by such publications as the New York Times Book Review, NPR, Kirkus Reviews, the Spectator UK and the Huffington Post.   It is approachable and a joy to read, unlike some of Auster's other works which are quite experimental.  The reader is caught up in each rendition of Archie's story and as the years go by, the life granted to him becomes clearer.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

No comments: