Had read that this man was the next great American novelist and this book might be the next great American novel.
Are they having a laugh?
The books seems to really be two short stories with the main character in common. The first half tells a story that he tells himself when he can't sleep. The second half tells the story of how he got to this point in his life. Neither half come together to make up a whole.
I enjoyed the first half of the book and thought it was very well written but it is obvious to me that Auster just simply didn't know where to go with it or how to end it or how to make it into a novel which would earn him loads of money. It deals with a parallel post 9/11 world in which the USA is embroiled in a civil war, a hot topic these days and a definite path to getting your book talked about (and selling).
So he added the second half which didn't relate to the first half (at least in my mind). There is no imagination involved here. And the story is weaker because of it. The narrator is a 72 year old man musing over his life's trials and wishing he could have a do over, a mulligan.
The writing in that second half isn't as tight or as captivating. And because I found myself constantly wondering what in the world this had to do with the first half I simply couldn't get into it. Ian McEwan or Philip Roth are 2 examples of great novelists who tell these stories better than anyone else.
I'd give this one a miss.